Red Light District Amsterdam

Red Light District

I’ve already written about one of Hollands well know vices, the drug culture. There is of course another vice which the country is very well known for. Something that brings a particular kind of tourist to certain shady areas of the country to indulge themselves in special ways. Yes, you’ve guessed it. I’m going to talk about windmills.

Alright. I’m not really going to talk about windmills. I’m going to talk about the sex industry in Holland. Holland has a very open view towards sex and prostitution is legal and regulated in most cases. If you want to see just how open the dutch view towards sex is (or you are on a stag night) you will find no better example then the Red Light District in Amsterdam. It is a network of alleyways containing hundreds of tiny one-room apartments where prostitutes wearing just underwear or bikinis offer their services from behind glass doors. Its also a place where you can find live sex shows, peep shows, sex museums and shops that sell the kind of toys you wont find in London’s Hamleys. Amsterdam has the most well known Red Light District but a lot of towns have there own versions as well. Its also not unusual to pass a sex shop in the main street of some towns.

If you come from a more reserved country the red light district is the kind of place you have to see to believe. In someways it is a tourist sight seeing attraction and that is why a lot of tourist go there for a game of Eye-Spy-Ho. Even my parents want to have a look around when ever they visit (at least that’s what my dad tells my mum). I’ve seen other families walking around there too to see if all the stories they have heard are true. However it is still a sex industry area and has its seedy side. You will often see men lined up out side prostitutes doors waiting for their turn and illegal stuff does still happen.

Visiting The Red Light District

I had a look around a few days after I first arrived in the country (and I’ve only ever looked). It was a time when I still looked very much like an out of place tourist so as I walked down one of the alleyways all I heard behind me was doors opening and calls of…

“Hello English boy.”

“Over here Ginger boy.”

“Hi red head.”

…I just kept on walking.

When my friends come to visit from England they also want to do a bit of window shopping (even the girls) because like everyone else they can not believe it until they see it with their own two eyes. This is how I ended up going to see one of the live sex shows. This might sound very seedy and in someways it was but in others it was quite an eye opener. I don’t mean that I finally found out the true story of where babies come from that night. I mean I was surprised to find out the place was more high tec then some normal theaters I have worked for in the past. They even had a revolving stage and a lighting set up which would make most bands envious. Not all the clientele were brown rain coat wearing men either. Again there were a lot of tourists and couples who just wanted to see the show for the novelty/curiosity factor.

As for the performance itself? Yes, there really where two people on stage having sex and sometimes just a woman alone with more of those toys that are not stocked by Hamleys. Some of the performers looked very bored as if they were following a script which they had done a thousand times before (which is probably just what it is like for them).

Part of the show was interactive as well. There was the woman who fed a banana to a member of the audience but she was not holding it with her hands or even her feet. There was a scary moment when she almost picked me and a friend out of the audience but we sank very low into our seats at that point.

If you are ever in Amsterdam the Red Light District is one of those places you have to see just so you can say you have seen it. However, don’t take any photos unless you want a very angry prostitute trying to take your camera away (cameras are banned in the area).

20 responses to “Red Light District Amsterdam”

  1. Rose DesRochers says:

    Thank you but no thank you. Call me old fashion, but I think that sex is something intimate that is to be shared between two people without an audience.

  2. Paul says:

    Another good read. I’m a Brit in America and I’m always surprised at the size of the sex industry over here in the US. I’m guessing us Brits just aren’t used to this sort of thing.

  3. sharlet says:

    Very interesting… :P

    It would seem that they’ve commercialised it to a large degree. Have you visited Bangkok (Thailand)? It sounds pretty much the same how they’ve turned it into a tourist attraction of sorts.

    While in Amsterdam it seems all about just “sex”, in Bangkok the main draw is its “lady boys”, or transvestites. And some of them are so pretty you can’t even tell they are… oops, sorry, *were* men. :P

    I’ve visited Bangkok before and seen its “trans shows”. As for Amsterdam… it’ll have to wait till I decide to tour Europe.

    Thanks for the post Stu! :)

  4. Invader Stu says:

    Paul – I agree. It makes Soho and years of Carry On movies seem tame.

    Sharlet – No problem. I hope it answered your question :)

    I’ve never been to Bangkok but I’ve heard some of the stories. I’ve been told there are a few lady boys in Amsterdam to but since I’ve never seen any this either means its a lie or they really look like women.

  5. sharlet says:

    Quote: “…its a lie or they really look like women” – Haha! I’m sure you can tell right, being a man? I heard men are better at spotting such stuff. But then again, if they’re anything like Korea’s Ha Ri Su, I think even the most expert eyes can be fooled!

  6. JaG says:

    Nice post!

  7. marycub says:

    The red light district is funny.

    I took my bf there once and as u probably know it starts off with just a few windows dotted along the street, so my bf was like “oh its not that bad”… until we turned the corner and then it was row upon row of windows and he went very quiet :D

    I don’t have any qualms about the district in ‘dam so i had a good laugh at his embarrassment.

    hee hee

  8. marycub says:

    ooo i’ve just realised you’ve linked me.

    Ta veh much :)

  9. roxanne says:

    I’m not really commenting on this post. But reading through a few of your previous posts I found out some strange coincidences between you and my son.

    1. red-head
    2. nickname ginger (what he’s currently being called at school and loathes it)
    3. draw cartoons
    4. video game industry (his new plan is to be a video game designer)

    maybe you’re long lost brothers :)


  10. Invader Stu says:

    Sharlet – If I’m ever looking around there again I’ll keep an eye out of Adam’s Apples :p

    JaG – Thank

    Marycub – It’s funny. I thought the same thing. The main street did not seem too bad until I turned in to one of the alleyways. You’re welcome for the link.

    Roxanne: Mummy? :p

  11. sharlet says:

    I couldn’t help laughing at Roxanne’s comment and your answer to it! :D

  12. Rose DesRochers says:

    Ignore my comment that’s ok by me.

  13. Invader Stu says:

    I don’t think anyone was not replying to them on purpose Rose. Sorry. Please don’t take it the wrong way.

  14. Rose says:

    I was refering to you. LOL

  15. vallyP says:

    I know this is an old one, but I am so tickled by the way you describe things. I’ve never been into a red light district club, and think I can probably manage to live without it..i would be a red faced as the little cartoon you. I have walked through it, though, and was, like everyone else, amazed at its flagrance…not the nice smelly kind either!

  16. DutchGal says:

    Hiya, I enjoyed reading your post especially your honesty. I recently moved from A’dam to London and always wondered why there are so many tourists in that area of ‘my’ Amsterdam, since to me [half Dutch] it seems just sleazy.

    I think you explained it very well and somehow it showed me a different perspective; one I can understand better. Not all Dutch share the same opion… *thank god* ;)

    Ps, there is a lot more to explore and enjoy, have fun, I miss Amsterdam at times!

  17. Aledys Ver says:

    Oh, but what happened to the windmills? :D
    You’ve said it right: it is something that you’ve got to see to believe. Pity that because it’s mostly tourists that come to see mainly that in A’dam, people around the world get the wrong image of the Dutch in general, when it’s the non-Dutch that keep the industry alive….

  18. Invader Stu says:

    You have a good point. Maybe I should finally write about those windmills :p

  19. Misty says:

    I think I have been to this exact place you speak of in this article. I was with a group of 20 of my American friends on our marathon trip. They sat us in the first two rows…we couldn’t look or speak to each other for the first 15-20 minutes. We stayed the entire show and they it started to repeat and the same acts were on stage again. Once you’ve seen it and get over the shock factor, you can actually watch and carry on a normal conversation. You are right, most of the people on stage look bored. Crazy stuff!

  20. Scottish Lassie says:

    Its not just in the big cities that sex sells. I’ve lived in the provence of Noord Brabant for the last year and just along the road from our village, on the school cycle route to the next village is a nice little house on the edge of the woods. Lovely! I hear you say, but this little house is not what it seems. Het Landhuisje is the local ‘Private Club’. They have a web site, which I had a peek at just out of curiosity, and they seem to offer all kinds of services. Now if a place like that had opened up near my old school in Scotland there would have been an outcry but doesn’t seem to bother anyone here.
    What amazes me about The Netherlands is that even though its a small country each provence has its own dialect and customs so theres plenty to keep us expats amused :)
    Ps Just stumbled upon your blogs today and haven’t done a bit of housework since lol Really a great read.

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