Exploring Amsterdam’s different scenes by gaybourhood!
The Amsterdam gay scene is divided into three areas. Around the Reguliersdwarsstraat district, situated on the street of the same name in between the Single and Herengracht canals, close to the Koningsplein Bridge, you’ll find trendier bars who are continually opening and closing for even trendier refurbishment.
The Reguliersdwarsstraat is home to trendy bars and cafes and can be rather tame by Amsterdam standards. As with all gay streets around the world, the area continues to become more mixed and mainstream. That said, the area is also under constant redevelopment with several new gay venues planned or in development. Reguliersdwarsstraat is famous for summer nights when this pedestrian street is packed wall-to-wall with young gay people moving between clubs, many of them new, that include: Club NYX, Exit Après Chique, La Cage, and Pub Soho, among various mixed nightclubs, lounges and restaurants along both sides of the street.
Along the Amstel River and the adjacent Halvemaansteeg, you’ll find an amiable mix of younger dudes, older guys and anyone else who loves to quaff a beer while listening (or singing along) to music. There’s a far more traditional scene round the Amstel and the Rembrandtsplein. The Amstel Taveerne is one of the oldest gay pubs in Holland and has a completely disarming naffness, while Montmartre de Paris around the corner is home to all things camp and pop.
There’s a much heavier leather scene around the Warmoesstraat which can be found just off the Dam Square down the street from the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. The leather crowd frequents here, in the heart of Amsterdam’s infamous red light district.The bars are all around the start of the Red Light District so be prepared to be the subject of stares from hordes of American and Japanese tourists being herded through the streets of sex shops and prostitutes in windows. Most of the bars boast busy backrooms and a leather dress code and look out for The Eagle and Dirty Dicks, both definitely worth a pit stop. Here you will find flagships of the famous leather stores, Mister B and Rob, with a wide range of leather and fetish gear. The bar/restaurant Getto, plus other coffeeshops, take-outs and porn shops fill out the spaces in between.
Near Centraal Station, where Warmoesstraat meets the Zeedijk, the picturesque gay pubs on narrow streets on the canals draw mixed but mainly male crowds, from the maturely sophisticated to the young and artsy: Cafe De Barderij, De Engel van Amsterdam and the Queen’s Head are standouts. Across the Damrak, around Nieuwezijds Kolk, the Cuckoos Nest, the Web, and Boys Club 21 offer more erotic relaxation. Sauna Nieuwezijds is a recent addition to the neighborhood.
The oldest and traditional gay area in Amsterdam is situated around Kerkstraat, which is close to the Leidseplein Bridge in between the Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals. This district has many of the gay guesthouses and hotels situated here and has the most cosy and low key atmosphere of the gay areas of the city.
Club Church, Spijker and Bronx Video make their stretch of Kerkstraat sexy. As well as the many choices for accommodation you can also find gay shops, restaurants and cafes in the area which has a distinctly ‘village’ ambience. The gay bars here offer a distinctly traditional atmosphere and it makes for a great place to start your evening as it is popular with both tourists and the local Dutch clientele.
The Jordaan district is another quiet neighborhood, home to numerous cafés, bookstores and some excellent shopping.
Amsterdam is not a big city and the scene tends to reflect this. There are few mega gay clubs, but plenty of special nights, jack-off parties and backrooms.