Gay Streets in Amsterdam
Compared to other Gay Capitals, Amsterdam is almost like a Gay Village. But despite being small in size, the Amsterdam gay scene has a long history and a large variety of places. They are concentrated in and around the following streets:
Each of these streets has its own character and history:
In 1927, 't Mandje
opened on this street, which is the oldest still existing LGBT bar of Amsterdam. In the 1960s and 70s a few more gay places were added, but in the 1980s all of them were closed down. However, Café 't Mandje was reopened in 2008.
In the northern part of the Zeedijk, a concentration of gay bars emerged again since 1998, but since 2016 only The Queen's Head is left, a café famous for its drag show bingo nights.
- Street party: Hartjesdagen
- Memorabilia: Zeedijk
Zeedijk in 1976 with second from the right Café 't Mandje
(photo: Han van Gool - click for the original)
Here, the gay leather scene
made its appearance at the end of the 1950s with hotel Tiemersma, from where the famous leather bar Argos
was opened in 1965. A series of gay and leather bars followed in the 1960s and until 2010 there was also a disco called Cockring.
Besides the colorful LGBT café-restaurant Getto, the leather and cruise bars The Eagle
and Dirty Dicks
can be found on Warmoesstraat.
- Street party: Leather Pride
- Memorabilia: Warmoesstraat
- History: Leatherhistory.eu
Warmoesstraat in 2012 with the flags of various leather businesses
(photo: Tom Morris - click to enlarge)
During the late 1950s there was the chic gay café Circuit at the southern end of Spuistraat. In the northern part a few gay sex clubs opened in the 1980s, of which only Boysclub 21 is left.
Not far from there, at the Nieuwezijds Kolk, are the cruise bars Cuckoo's Nest and The Web, as well as the only gay sauna of the city: Nieuwezijds (NZ).
In the central part of Spuistraat you can find the popular gay café Prik from 2006, with the drag show restaurant 't Sluisje just around the corner.
- Memorabilia: Spuistraat
Spuistraat with gay café Prik during EuroPride 2016
(click to enlarge)
The first gay café in this street was Mac Donald
, which opened in 1963. In 1970, it was followed by lunchroom Downtown
which became the first open gay establishment of Amsterdam.
As of 1980 Reguliersdwarsstraat became the most famous and trendy gay street
of Amsterdam, first with gay café April
and in the 1990s with gay dancing Havana
. After gay disco De Viking
from the 1970s, a new popular disco called Exit
opened in 1988.
Nowadays, you can go out in the open-minded gay club NYX and the gay bars BLEND, Soho, Taboo and Taboo Kantine, the Exit Café, and the Latin gay bar Reality.
- Past and present: Reguliers.net
- Memorabilia: Reguliersdwarsstraat
The Reopening of Reguliersdwarsstraat in 2011
(click to enlarge)
The first gay bar along the Amstel opened as early as 1929, after the war followed by an increasing number of gay bars like the popular Gaiety
. The most famous one was the Amstel Taveerne from 1964, which was renamed Amstel Fifty Four in 2007.
In addition, you can also find the gay cafés Fame, Queers and Montmartre, with the small gay club YOLO a little further. Around the corner from Rembrandtplein is the well-known transgender bar De Lellebel.
Before 2015, various kinds of gay bars were also found in the adjacent streets Paardenstraat and Amstelstraat, where also the world-famous gay disco iT
was located during the 1990s.
- Memorabilia: Amstel
Queen's Day outside the gay bars alongside Amstel in 2012
(click to enlarge)
Unique opened here in 1951 as the first gay hotel in Amsterdam, with more cafés, shops and the gay bathhouse Thermos Night following in the 1960s and 70s. At that time it made Kerkstraat the main gay street of Amsterdam.
Gay hotel Amistad is still here, while you can go out to the Spijker Bar
from 1979 and the popular fetish club Church from 2008.
- Street party: StreetHeart Festival
- Memorabilia: Kerkstraat
- Old photos: Blast from the Past: Kerkstraat
Elsewhere in the city
Kerkstraat in 1983 with gay café De Pul, hotel Aero and Club Lord
(photo: Gerard Dukker - click for the original)
Elsewhere in the center of Amsterdam there were a few inns where gay men met already in the 18th century. In the early 20th century there were about five gay bars and around 1930 there was also a well-known gay café in the Nes.
In 1952 the DOK was opened at the Singel, which became the largest gay dancing of post-war Europe, not less popular than De Schakel, the community center of gay rights organization COC
near the Leidseplein. The best-known gay bathhouse was Thermos, which from 1971 to 2015 was located at Raamstraat.
Today there are also a few more gay venues spread outside the aforementioned gay streets, such as the alternative LGBT disco De Trut and the lesbian cafés Saarein and Bar Buka.
- Memorabilia: Amsterdam Gay & Lesbian Nightlife
Gay disco iT at Amstelstraat in 1991
(photo: David Jarrett - click to enlarge)