Let’s be honest. Whether it is something that’s ‘your thing’ or not, the iconic coffee shops and the Red Light District that the city of Amsterdam is home to will somehow manage to spark your curiosity. On the other hand, while you may have a clear idea on what these two taboo activities for which Amsterdam is known for, reading this article will let you know the myths, facts, what to expect from them, and how to get the most out of your visits. Enjoy!
What Is It?
The Red Light District (RLD) is the one area of the city that stands out from Amsterdam’s charming and picturesque pattern of canals and traditional buildings. Although it may come as a surprise to many, the RLD is also one of the most historic oldest parts that can be found in the city. The streets of Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudezjds Achterburgwal are saturated with more than 400 vitrines decorated with red lights around their perimeter.
Evidently, on the other side of the windows you will notice women wearing little to clothing dancing seductively in attempt to lure visitors in. You can also find windows with blue lights; indicating that the person inside the window is transvestite or transgender. In a few words, the RLD is a way for Amsterdam to make a loud statement about the legalization of prostitution.
What Can You Expect:
Being of the most visited areas in Amsterdam (if not the first), the first thing you can expect from going to the RLD are enormous crowds of people. The streets themselves are not as big as you may think, so people clustering together is quite normal. On the other hand, the people that attend are not your typical Dutch local, but quite the opposite. Among the sea of people you will encounter, you will most likely see bachelor and bachelorette parties coming from abroad, university students taking a weekend off from their studies and even senior or older citizens checking a wild night at the RLD off their bucket lists.
As for the ‘window girls’ themselves, there are several things you can expect. In fact, you can expect almost anything. The girls can get very creative in that they will dress up in costumes of pretty much anything; cats, sexy nurses, maids and schoolgirls, dominatrix outfits; or may even opt to wear nothing at all.
#3 Business Talk
Besides being a witness to an overwhelmingly live erotic show for what may seem like miles at a time, you may also notice how male customers negotiate prices with the ladies. Although this may not seem a very impactful even to see, some people actually find it quite shocking as it is a way for this erotic fantasy you might think you are in become real.
Sex workers in the Netherlands are regarded to have as much of a profession as any other type of job such as mailmen, teachers, office workers and mechanics. They are still required to pay taxes and have a union and the same access to medical care as any other worker in the Netherlands.
Don’t even think doing these if you want to save your life
#1 Taking Pictures
The first and most important “don’t” about being at the RLD is: Don’t take pictures. If you think your abilities at taking sneaky pictures are on point, you will be quickly corrected by one of the tall, big guys that protect the ladies 24/7. Most of the time, you will be asked to hand over yout device and delete the pictures you took; but there is always the possibility of your camera being whipped out of your hands in a single swing. However, if you did in fact just want to take a picture of the RLD, make sure that there are no red windows in the fame, and that it is made clear that your lens is not pointing at any of the ladies.
Although you are allowed to watch and admire the women behind the windows, try no to stand too long in front of one. This is because you may be blocking the view from potential clients. And damaging their chances at becoming profitable for that night. Remember that these women are trying to work and gain money; they are not just there to entertain tourists for free. Not only will you be blocking someone’s business opportunity, but you will make the workers and the people requiring their services feel uncomfortable – something that the RLD strongly stands against.
#4 Illegitimate Drugs
Besides the RLD, Amsterdam is also known for their choice to legalize soft drugs such as mushrooms and marihuana. However, be very cautious about taking these from places that are certified, legal and genuine and not from anyone offering them to you on the street. The RLD is perhaps the most attractive place for people to sell drugs illegally; but make sure to skip these.
Well, you are at least free to do the following in Red Light District, Amsterdam
Feel free to see and observe the windows, and even to knock on them if you want to discuss price rates if you require their service. Of course, remember to stay respectful and to treat each lady in a dignified way.
#2 Honesty and Clarity
If you enter a business, make your intentions with a worker very clear. Be honest about what you are looking for and what your interests are in order to avoid unpleasant surprises, and so that the price rate is calculated fairly. Of course, if you actually happen to want to experiment with a lady from behind the window, please do practice any activity with protection.
#3 Visiting with Children
If you’re visiting Amsterdam with children, walking through the RDL and avoiding their awkward questions is quite inevitable. On the other hand, the girls do not start working until around 8pm; so if you would like to visit the area without being overwhelmed with inappropriate scenes for children, it would be best for you to pass through in the morning or early afternoon.