My tour today began at around 5pm in the afternoon, which meant it was already getting close to sundown. Amsterdam certainly does not have nearly the amount of sunshine that I am used to! I told my tour guide, Vince, email@example.com, about my project and that I only wanted my tour to focus on the Red Light District. Now mind you, the entire area is roughly 3 square blocks and my tour was scheduled for two hours so he was going to have to come up with quite a bit of detail to fill the time.
He kindly obliged my request and we went up and down every nook and cranny of the area. One alley was maybe 3 feet wide at most; you had to position yourself sideways for two people to pass each other. The walls were covered in graffiti, maybe the only graffiti I have really seen here, and it dead-ended at a strip club. Off to the side of the alley were double doors that led into a small cul-de-sac of sorts secretly filled with red light windows. This was the first time I felt a forbidden feeling, a naughty sort of vibe and then I realized why…no cameras.
Now, there probably were cameras, but it didn’t feel like there were. Cameras are everywhere here in Amsterdam. They watch your every move, which is why they say it is so safe here.
The graffiti, the “secret” rooms, the club door with a buzzer, all seemed like I was being let into a secret world. The rest of the district feels a lot like Vegas albeit with better architecture. It even has a street that sort of sports a mall-like feel. It seems to me that Project 1012 has the same goal as Mayor Rudi Giuliani had when he “cleaned up” Times Square. I had the distinct feeling that in the near future there would be a Gap and a Starbucks occupying one of these windows.
I needed to find a place that could be my “hangout” down here so I could do my research, so Vince and I scoped out a bar that was strategically located where I could spend some time on my laptop and “observe” the area, it’s inhabitants and visitors. He also pointed out all of the tourist guide highlights and we visited the beautifully merchandised condom shops and vibrator stores. We even went into the famous Absolute Danny sex clothing store, http://www.absolutedanny.com/shop/.
Though I had no desire to visit any of the live sex shows, I did decide to go into a peep show. We squeezed into a booth and dropped in 2 Euros and the screen went up. On the round rotating cushion was a beautiful Eastern European woman in a Catholic School garter/skirt ensemble. I couldn’t help but think of Madonna’s music video to Open Your Heart and then I realized Madonna was actually playing on the stereo speaker in the booth! The ultimate cliché experience was just made more so and I loved it! Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snsTmi9N9Gs