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Red Light District Guide

Introduction to the Ultimate Red Light Guide of Amsterdam

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Amsterdam’s Red Light District … But Were Afraid Your Wife Would Hear You Ask


We are calling this the ultimate guide to Amsterdam’s Red Light District, not because our egos have finally got completely out of control, but because, having spent over a decade running what is by far the most successful and popular apartment rentals business in Amsterdam, and having enjoyed the company of some of the world’s most adventurous travellers, we know the questions that every visitor REALLY wants to ask, after they have wasted enough time pretending to be interested in the history of the world’s oldest and most famous red light area.


This truly is the ultimate guide to the original home of the notorious Triple-X symbol (hilariously, and entirely innocently, although now synonymous worldwide with the porn industry, it is actually part of Amsterdam city’s heraldic coat of arms). We claim complete dominance over the all the other guides because of one simple fact: we go where they fear to tread, roughly shoving them out of the way and stepping on their necks as we take you by the hand, right past the thronging crowds of tourists too timid to do anything more than gawp, and right through the doors, past the red curtains and straight into the behind-the-scenes reality of the Red Light District of Amsterdam.


A special notice: although this guide will bring the Red Light District to life for you like no other, we would urge you to visit for yourself as soon as possible. The reason we do this could not be more tragic: this district that has been a unique part of the Dutch reputation around the world for centuries is now being systematically dismembered by a combination of religious zealots and politicians anxious to push populist buttons rather than deal with the country’s many real problems.


It is our sad duty to report that the slow but steady erosion of Amsterdam’s Red Light District has taken its toll and the experience is not what it was ten or, even, five years ago. Entire streets that were once full of red light windows have been snapped up by conservative businesspeople determined to create firewalls of inactivity throughout the district, interrupting the flow and atmosphere that once coursed around these canals, drawing curious tourists from all over the world. Each time a red light window closes, to be replaced by a meaningless window display or self-righteous poster, a little bit of old Amsterdam dies.


This slow strangulation is tacitly supported by the authorities and media; despite benefitting so much in the past from being seen as pragmatic progressives, with a fair, straightforward and healthy approach, refreshingly lacking in the hypocrisy that so cripples every other government’s handling of the world’s oldest profession, many Dutch have now tired of their old live-and-let-live reputation, and are faintly embarrassed by their country’s association with sex and soft drugs.


Of course, anyone with eyes in their head knows that, for every actual potential weed smoker or sex customer among the visitors to Holland, there are ten more who merely come to enjoy the free atmosphere, in an increasingly unfree world. Since the year 2000, when we decided to move from Ireland to the Netherlands precisely because Amsterdam was such a uniquely special city, we have watched them strip away the magic, layer by layer.


So, for that very pressing reason, we would urge you to visit Amsterdam as soon as possible, so that you can experience the intriguing anomaly of a sophisticated, rich Western country where it is still possible for grown adults to be treated as adults, and to experience a level of freedom in their personal decisions that is unmatched elsewhere. Come and experience free Amsterdam and it’s famous Red Light District before it passes into history.


We will be covering quite a lot of ground, but it will all be information that will directly improve and enhance your experience of the Red Light District (or the RLD, as some who are not getting paid by the word, might call it). Among our areas of interest will be:


1. Is prostitution really completely legal in The Netherlands? If I decide to do more than just look, is there even the slightest chance that I could get in trouble with Dutch? Or could I even somehow get in trouble with the authorities in my own country? Am I going straight to Guantanamo Bay? Should I start learning Arabic now?


2. Who actually controls this business? Are the women forced to stand in those windows? All that stuff I kept hearing about sex trafficking is there any truth to it or is it so full of horseshit that it could be sold as a beef burger in a UK supermarket.


3. The women all undergo frequent medical checks, don’t they? I mean, that’s meant to be the whole point of decriminalising prostitution, that it allows society to control it and make it safer, right? Right? Hello?


4. How much does it cost? Including when she steals my wallet?


5. How do you pick one? I mean, are you allowed just to look at them while you try to decide? Isn’t that rude? And what if I CAN’T decide, won’t that be embarrassing if I keep walking past the same windows, like some sort of ho-stalking madman? How many times am I allowed to walk past before they get angry with me? What if I decide on one but, when I get close to the door, I discover that I’m horrified by her – do I have to go ahead and shag her anyway, just to save everyone embarrassment?


6. What if I need to pee?


7. What is it like when you actually walk through the door? What is in there? Is it clean? What does it smell like? Is her Nigerian boyfriend crouching on top of the wardrobe with a big machete, waiting until my trousers are around my ankles before springing into murderous action?


8. Hold on just a dang minute now … are you certain that is, in fact, a “she”? Oh no, oh my God, what have I done. Yes, that’s right, we could not claim to be the very ultimate guide to Amsterdam’s Red Light District if we did not, also, provide you with a FAIL-SAFE why to avoid accidentally bedding she-males, ladyboys and common or garden transvestites … OR, if that just so happens to be your idea of a splendid time, well, we can give you the full low-down on how to find Amsterdam sex workers packing just that little bit extra.


9. Has anyone ever been blackmailed, afterwards by an Amsterdam prostitute? And can I finally get a damn answer to my question about whether bears do, indeed, shit in the woods?


10. What we do we mean by “the Amsterdam Red Light District”? Surely, if Dutch law allows prostitution, it must be going on all over the city? And what is the deal with the Dutch and putting prostitutes behind glass doors? Haven’t they heard of brothels, saunas and massage parlours? What if I want some fun in my hotel room? Do I have to go down to the Red Light District, go up to one of the videos and ask for a takeaway? Or are can I just phone up an escort agency? Do they have regular escorts or is it all done behind windows?


Use the links and we hope that our accumulated Amsterdam wisdom and it gets you in the right mood for your trip to Amsterdam and its notorious Red Light District.

Explore our Red-light Guide


Introduction to the Ultimate Red Light Guide of Amsterdam

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