Debauchery and a few Red Lights The colors of Amsterdam, well Brown and Red that is
I have written much of Amsterdam now and I have heard from a few of you regarding my obvious omissions regarding Amsterdam. You have asked me, “When are you going to write about the Pot” and “I want to read about the Prostitution and Whores”, Yeah and “What about the Windmills”?, really? the windmills. Using the word, “whore” was a bit harsh I thought, but I must admit that did bring a smile to my face, but I felt bad afterwards. So this post is for all of you out there that just have to hear about the underbelly of one of the World’s great travel destinations. I want to be right up front with you on this subject.
“I did not inhale”!
Well actually the truth is, I did not smoke any pot, eat any space cakes or try any magic mushrooms, see Mom, I am a good boy and no I did not bring any home for you. And I most certainly did not partake in any prostitution. Although those ladies sure did like my partner. It seems as though it is our primal need to get “get down in the gutter” as quickly as we can, to see and feel the danger in it. Most of us just like to slink up to the edge of that danger, the dark side of who we are, but not ever really jumping off the mountain top only to find ourselves hitting bottom the next morning, wondering “What the hell did I do that for”. Or how did I end up in jail? Or you wake and look over, the first words out of our mouth is, Who are you? and the next set, What did we do?
For all the beautiful things that are Amsterdam, and there is so much I can’t even write about them all. There are an equal number of things that most people would say are risqué, naughty, dangerous or just plain illegal where you come from. You may be in luck, they might very well be legal in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam embodies the spirit of freedom, it’s in their DNA, these characteristics are inextricably linked to that spirit of freedom and the long standing traditions of relating to tolerance, freedom of speech, a spirit of commerce and creative liberty. This tradition of freedom has shaped the city into what it is today. Thanks to this atmosphere of freedom and tolerance, Amsterdam has throughout it’s long history been a magnet for artists, philosophers, free thinkers and other creative spirits from around the world.
Because of this spirit of freedom, Amsterdam has established a tolerance for those who enjoy a little doobie, some mushrooms maybe a space cake and yes, even legalized prostitution. You may have heard the phrase “Brown Cafe” before in relations to Amsterdam.
These are the cafes, pubs and bars where you can go in order your favorite flavor of pot, and there are many, sit back even outside if you like and smoke until your blue in face. The acrid, dirty smell of Pot is in the air, you can’t miss it. It hits you as you walk down the street, exit your hotel, or get in a Cab, its like a dirty friend who never leaves your side. But there is something refreshing even liberating about the fact that it is going on, out in public for everyone to see.
Now you cannot just go walking down the street smoking a doobie. There are some laws in place against this behavior. Those of you out there looking for a real Amsterdam experience should not miss a visit to an authentic Amsterdam Brown Cafe. Why are they called Brown Cafe’s, it’s easy decades of smoking inside has turned them brown. If you are planning to partake in a nice little joint, then you will have enjoy it one of the 100’s of Brown Cafes. I am told that some of the best ones are located around the Central Station and the Jordaan district. Oh yeah and you will have to be at least 18. Which is the age of most of the people I saw enjoying a little toke.
You will also find shops all over town where you can buy seeds, dozens of different types of Marijuana seeds, and each of them induce some different feeling or remedy. Along side these seeds, you will see Magic Mushrooms. Considering I wouldn’t smoke any pot, I sure didn’t enjoy any mushrooms, and I like mushrooms, usually in my Pasta, or course that is a different kind. So pick your poison my friends, Beer, Pot, Mushrooms and more. Just a tip: Bring a friend who won’t partake, he/she is the one thats going to keep you out of jail or worse.
Listen all you Mom’s and Dad’s out there, when your child says they are going to Amsterdam to visit all the museums, thats not all their visiting.
Then there is the Red Light district, the World renewed Red Light District. No it is not a district decorated for Christmas or something like that. It is a block or two that has been established for decades now; that is for legalized prostitution. Simply put, SEX. Raw, uninhibited SEX. If your wondering how come you don’t see pictures or videos of this district everywhere, especially if it’s legal. Because it is illegal to take pictures in this section of town, there are camera’s everywhere. When your walking through the Red Light district just know your being watched and not just by the Prostitutes.
One of the lovely canals that cuts through the district, with walking streets on both sides of the canal. All the buildings in this particular district have been renovated to have a unique commonality, They have large glass windows at street level, below street level and even on the second floor. These large glass windows are framed in Red Lights and a simple curtain. If the lights are on and the curtain is open, you will most likely find one of the lovely ladies standing in the window. She is dressed very provocatively, panties, bra, the smaller the better it seems. As you walk by you look in the windows, don’t lie to yourself, you would look.
They will try to get your attention, if you see someone you fancy, well, just knock on the window. These windows open to the street, a little negotiation and before you know it, your in the window, curtain drawn, the deal is sealed! Now you might say to yourself, that’s outrageous, crazy, disgusting, how demeaning for those poor girls. Hold on, remember this is legal and a job for these ladies, who make a small fortune. This whole scenario might actually be the most cut and dried, sanitary aspect of the Red Light District in Amsterdam. What I found to be really fascinating are the Live Sex Shows.
Yes, you read that right, LIVE SEX SHOWS! All you can watch, LIVE SEX SHOWS! For a fee (Cover Charge) you can enter and watch live people having sex on stage, or in a booth, or in a private booth with just you and them, nice and cozy like. Sex is very prevalent in this City, it oozes sexiness. The naughtiness is palpable and thick in the air. After all the Worlds oldest Sex Museum and Torture Museums reside in Amsterdam. And you think people today are naughty and randy, well stop into the Sex Museum.
I want to share with you a few exerts from a local guide I picked up while in Amsterdam, I don’t think your going to find these statements in Frommer’s, Lonely Planet or Rick Steve’s, but they are clear and funny.
Red Light District
The Police of the Red Light District welcome you! Amsterdam is a beautiful and free city, but not everything is allowed, and there are rules. The Red Light District is in the oldest part of the city and offers you a variety of culture and entertainment. It is also a place where many families live with their children, who value their peace and privacy.
This information is meant to make your visit a safe and pleasant one. It explains some of the tourist traps, but even more so it is meant to keep the peace in this small village inside Amsterdam. We have camera surveillance in the center of Amsterdam, and in the Red Light District this is even 24/7. In some districts it is prohibited to wear knives or other weapons, as it is in all bars and disco’s.
Too much alcohol often causes irresponsible and childish behavior like undressing in public, jumping into canals and so on. Please don’t make a fool of yourself. People who live here do no appreciate it.
Urinating in Public
A dirty habit, and always committed by men. If you are caught, the fine is about $150 and must be paid immediately at the police station. Do not ruin our houses or monuments, go instead into one of the bars and tip the bartender to use his toilet, or use one of the public toilets. You also can go to the police station and use the facilities there.
Hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD and ecstasy are strictly forbidden. Buying drugs on the streets is one of the biggest tourist traps in Amsterdam. From the moment you arrive in the Red Light district, people will offer you drugs. These drugs are always fake, and are typically made from washing powered, sugar, rat poison or vitamin C tablets. Furthermore you also open yourself up to violence. You may be forced to hand over your wallet as soon as you to pay for the fake drugs.
Fake Police Officers
Recently people have been approached by individuals impersonation Dutch police officers. Their sole objective is to steal valuables they find in your clothing. When approached by sure to read their identification carefully.
And my favorite section: Prostitution
If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you, they are not always women. Do not take pictures of the women. Out on the streets, do not shout or use bad language towards these women. Show some respect. If you have any problems with a girl or a pimp, do not hesitate to ask a police officer to help you. We know why you are there and you can hardly surprise us. It is against the law and very dangerous to solicit prostitution on the streets.
The Red Light District sounds scary, dirty, dangerous, addictive and powerful, but it really isn’t. In fact I would say it is one of the safest, funnest sections of this beautiful city, especially to watch people. Where else are you going to watch Prostitutes hang out in windows, surly men looking for the love of their life, or just the next 5 minutes and wives and husbands walking hand in hand talking about which of the girls are the prettiest. If your going to go all the way to Amsterdam, then see all of Amsterdam, including the Ladies in the windows. They are very friendly, especially if your 6’4″ and 180.