“The Dutch don’t mind if you are gay, straight, black, white or whatever,” our tour guide was telling us “because in the end saving the town from flooding was more important.”
Amsterdam is built on marsh land and have a system of levels and dams to keep the city dry. Heck, there is even a Dam (of sorts) out in the sea with walls they can close to keep the city from washing way. (In which they have eight times since construction in the 80’s)
This is part is why Amsterdam is so progressive, and perhaps why they have a red light district. There is even an ad on television encouraging the younger generation not to come out to their parents, but rather just bring home their girlfriend/boyfriend like everyone else.
We all know what the red light district is. It is windows with with sex workers selling a service. You walk past the window, see what you like, knock and if she likes you she’ll open the door. At that point you negotiate a price for what service you want and off you go to a sterile room. Sixteen years ago there was over 500 windows, today a slight more than 200. The government has plans to close down the windows, the district and make it a tourist destination. When you think of Amsterdam now, you think of sex and drugs. The government wants you to think of tulips and cheese.
The red light district is more than windows, it’s an industry of sex. There are peep shows, and shows. I am told ‘shows’ are just that …… people doing it on a rotating platform. There are shops that sell a certain type of adult toys and shop in where you can have custom made “rubber jackets just-for-men” made.
We paid someone to walk us around the red light district. In fact, about 20 of us did. We walked down narrow alley ways that host the Elite Windows, the Blond Window and then the Transgender Windows. We did not walk down the big black women alley. (Too crowded.) She described the shows, the process for negation of price and the history of the area. Also, only EU members can work in the area (no VISA’s for sex workers) and no pictures. Pictures are not allowed. Even when we rode bike through the area (twice I might add) we were told once again, “no pictures” in this area. (So sorry, you will just have to imagine what the windows looked like.)
I do highly recommend you do this in Amsterdam, walk the red light with a tour guide regardless how you feel about the industry and you then, can make up your own mind.
*Note some facts and figures are accurate, some are what I recall other people tell me and the rest is WAG. (Wild Ass Guess.))