Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Red light district of Amsterdam


The coachman knew a lot of gossip about the Red Light district of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

He was one of the first in the evening, with the newly lit red lantern lights to begin his inspection of night.

And early in the morning was the last one, who together with the first rays of the sun, watched the awakening city.

He knew any street corner.  Only had to spend a few words with the clients and the coach ran down the small streets to the desired address.

Most of all, coachmen enjoyed rainy days when the wet pavement gleamed under the lantern lights.

The whole street was filled with a variety of light shades, however, the dominant of them were red.

Each time, giving away greetings, coachman warned the lonely traveller-

Red lights will warm you, ensnare.., and, there's a lot of black shadows that glides invisibly through the dark streets..., be careful.

If anyone persistently wants to dig into history by asking where to find the origins of this entertainment, then the avoidable answer is, only God himself knows it. And if someone is endowed with a sense of humour, it will surely be advised to consult with Adam and Eve, the definite answer is in their hands.


The old Amsterdam monastery preserves historical documents of the guest houses. Around the 14th century, one could see quite a flattering scene in the city. In the late evening, the streets were crowded with walking intrusive girls and men offering intimate services.

Amsterdam's golden age was full of mottled events. At that time the city was a major trading centre and everyday there arrived hundreds of people of different ranks. Wealthy merchants settled in homesteads and stayed in the city for several days. Old Odezijds Achterburgwal district was full of monasteries that therefore inherited the name of Monk Street. This region was rich with a lot of street kitchens where travellers could get warm and have a meal. Here also it held undisguised agreement for intimate services. If, however, one reached an agreement, without any bias, the pair rather defiantly went to the agreed place.

In the late 16th century, the church was sick of watching these open displays of adultery. Catholics and Calvinists adopted a harsh law that forbade prostitute services and the perpetrators were severely punished in the town square- New Market, the current name. However, the severe judgment on the infringement of the law could not stop the demand and delivery service and it continued to operate underground.

The situation in intimate service changed significantly in the 19th century when the French invaded Holland. Free walk in the streets in search of customers now ended. Along with ammunitions, French soldiers brought their own whores which supplemented the already variegated local contingent. Most of them were white-skinned women from Europe. However, quite a gainful activity also attracted nationals from eastern as well as African countries.

The mayor established strict laws to prevent the spread of venereal diseases and prostitutes were forced to conduct regular medical examinations. If they were caught in the act without necessary authorization, the mayor imposed harsh fines and work was terminated.

After the Second World War, intimate service changed the exterior design. Prostitutes could now show their bodies, highlighted by the bright lights and colourful decorations. It made customers to stop even if for a moment. At first glance, contactless mutual intimacy developed. Now it is possible for the sex worker and the customer to evaluate each other to start bargaining. Price for the service is significantly different and depends on the place where prostitutes work. Sex industry is no exception and is also taxed. It is hard work to earn well.

At work

The average price of sex services is €40 for the customer. In the meantime, the time allowed for the customer is 15 to 20 minutes. If the client wants to touch the prostitute's body with hand, like, fondling the breasts and hips or kissing them as well as doing photography it requires an additional fee. If prostitute works hard, it is possible to earn €500 – €700 per shift. Cabins located in one of the adjacent streets are hard to find and searching customers sometimes have to leave the cab. Such behaviour is rarely practiced and very likely it will lead to dealing with the police. 

The best time is the summer season when there is greater influx of tourists. It is the time of the carnival and the city-holiday period. Usually the busiest time begins just before nightfall and lasts till 1 – 2 o’clock in the early morning.

Why is this time the most active? There are some self-defence roles. Darkness is being used as a cover. Many customers feel quite uncomfortable visiting cabins in a broad daylight. Among the visitors are also government officials who have arrived for business trip and sometimes want small escapade. God forbid if someone caught them in that moment! 

Entering the modern times and techniques, local businessmen have tried a variety of projects in order to attract more customers. One of them was to remove prostitutes from the cockpit display windows, replacing them with props. Cabin windows were presented in a glamorous and rather appealing manner. Millions were invested. Something, however, did not go as hoped and customer numbers diminished.

Neither audio nor video ads did help and businessmen were forced to return to the classical variant. When a few dozen tourists who visited Amsterdam and with the only view to enjoy sex services in cabin were questioned their answers were quite shocking. But they were taken into account. In fact, everyone wanted to see a live body that even modern technology cannot imitate.

If you want to enjoy a real free market, then I would suggest to open the cabin doors and start haggling. Starting up negotiations on an intimate theme must be quite restrained, even with the absent-minded Dutchman. Therefore, you do not ask the Dutchman- Did you ever go to The Red Light District? He will reply with a smile!

Post scriptum

At the beginning of the 21st century, red lanterns are starting to light up in many European countries. No matter what rules are set for this type of business, it cannot and will not stop this age-old endless love game.

For many, it is their only source of livelihood. Throwing shame aside, family people, wives and husbands go to their night jobs to earn a living. Aware of the negative consequences of this work, despair forces one to make a decision against one's will.

This is not the only misfortune that goes hand in hand with the profession. Where there is sex there are drugs and criminal offenses. By surrendering personal documents, the prostitute becomes a slave and remains powerless to resist anything.

Often sex work done is under the influence of drugs. To just stay alert and avoid pregnancy, prostitutes use contraceptives. The body has to endure enormous physical pressure during the night shift.

However, the seemingly money-bearing period does not last long. After a few years, a woman can no longer become a mother. Not only the body, but also the morale is distorted. In the face of despair, human being is capable of much but for how long?


Published on 14 July 2021