Amsterdam: Of Expat Love and Red Lights

by Miss Footloose

Amsterdam, Red Light District

Have you heard the stories about Amsterdam, city of decadence and debauchery?  The city sports a Hash Museum, an Erotic Museum, cannabis-selling “coffee shops,” a yearly Gay Pride Parade and the infamous Red Light District.

And now, dear reader, imagine this: I, Miss Footloose, lived in Amsterdam in my tender youth and again in my less-tender college days and came away morally unscathed.  Well, more or less.  I did come away with an American expat vriend (later to become my husband), who had come to live in the Netherlands (aka Holland) for study and travel. Not to study Amsterdam and its wicked ways, but international business, also full of wickedness.

So we met in Amsterdam, Dutch girl and American boy. How romantic! I hear you say. Well, actually we met in a  large, modern office where I was typing boring contracts and he was an intern learning about buying and selling futures on the stock market. How romantic a setting is that? Not so much. But never mind.

Floating Flower Market on the Singel Canal

We explored Amsterdam, and each other, and romance bloomed. You know how that goes. Amsterdam is a good place for blooming and exploring, so google it if you’re interested. One evening we were out with  friends, an American couple, and it was decided that they could not count themselves as being educated European style if they had not visited Amsterdam’s Rosse Buurt, or Red Light District.  So off we went.

It was a dark and balmy night, but all was festively aglow in the Red Light District, a place I had never visited before. What can I say? It was fascinating!  There was so much to buy and see! Girls in windows and doorways, porn, sex toys, flirty lingerie, cannabis, ice cream!

Note: Yes, I am aware of the serious problems of the prostitution industry. Dutch law regulates prostitution, aims at protecting minors, tries to eliminate forced prostitution and combats human trafficking. Any sex business must obtain a license, certifying that it has fulfilled the legal requirements to operate.

Girls in windows and doorways. I must admit, I was impressed by the fancy outfits, the creative hairdos and the glamorous makeup.  I felt like a little unsophisticated milkmaid from the country! The three Americans were all a-goggle as well by all that splendor.

Statue of a prostitute, the only one in the world. The church in the background is the 14th century Oude Kerk, still not giving up on lost souls

The girls in windows and doorways did not like us looking at them. We could tell.  They glared at us and made rude gestures and comments. Well, I could understand why. It must have been obvious to them we were not potential clients, being two couples walking hand in hand and clearly not shopping for the more kinky services they might have on offer.

We passed by one working girl artfully draped in the doorway of her place of business, all her wares on display: long legs, lots of hair, fortified mammary glands peeking out of her red lace bodice. You get the picture.

“You!” she snarled, pointing her blood red fingernail at my American Romeo. “Now you don’t know me, do you? Last week, oh, you knew me then, didn’t you?”

Rendered in perfect English.

* * *

What does this story trigger in your memory? A tale of  moral decrepitude? An encounter with a lady of the night? An amusing incident of love and romance?

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I’ve always wanted to go to Amsterdam. Slapped wrists really as we lived so close to it and we went to university in Hull – so many opportunities to sail, if not fly. Determined to make it there one day! The red light district sounds like fun… 🙂

Beautiful City and I would love to visit Amsterdam one day!

guyana gyal

A teen friend visited Holland with her parents and little sister a year or so ago. She was more excited about the food and the flowers though 🙂

Kudos to that church for not giving up on lost souls!

maria altobelli

I tend to be more fixated on food than prostitutes when I’m walking the streets of a foreign city. What I recall about our only time wandering about Amsterdam (on the way to Riga—no slouch in its Red Light District) was a fun tapa bar near a bridge. I’d go back again just for that.

Thanks for a good read.

Upon my return visit after immigrating at age seven, my husband and extended family visited the red light district. It was gutsy of that prostitute t o talk to your fiance like that. We had no words with anyone as we were a group just obviously taking in the sites. No one tried to harass us.

An excellent tale and perfectly told.

I was still 18 when my older sister dragged me along to Amsterdam. She was in hot pursuit of those infamous coffee ‘Hash’ houses. I never got to see Anne Frank’s hiding place, but I did get to watch a video in a smoky room about plants reading our minds. I have always wanted to return to Amsterdam, but with a different focus.


Ah Amsterdam, it holds a lot of great memories for me especially since I was smitten with a Dutch boy once. I remember walking through the red light districts with Mr. Dutch all a-giggle and a-google as well. But man oh man, I’m glad we didn’t encounter a working girl wanting to stir up trouble!

I thought the same as Madame De Farge. Shows how we Europeans think. Anyway, I prefer the cheese and the coffee shops in Amsterdam, but I’m a woman.

Oops…I meant ‘top five’.

I LOVE Amsterdam! It definitely ranks among my top four: (San Francisco, Istanbul, Amsterdam, New York, New Orleans). When I first went to Amsterdam, I stayed at a Christian youth hostel smack dab in the middle of Dam Square. I didn’t realize it was the red light area until the people where I got a dish-washing job pointed it out. (In my own defense, I’d only walked around there during the daytime — that’s why I didn’t know.) I heard a similar story once from friends in San Francisco: newly-wed husband and wife walking happily together down Broadway; along comes… Read more »

Having a good giggle at that story, Miss Footloose!

lol I have been once in the red light district. We had NZ visitors and my husband wanted to show them the city. Interesting to say at least. I love Amsterdam and we went there quite a lot as my parents bought there clothes for their shop in the trade centre in Amsterdam.

I do hope she was just saying it for effect….the poor chap. And poor you. I hope your heart wasn’t too broken.

Born and bred in Amsterdam myself. Don’t think I’ve ever been in the red light district. Wouldn’t know where to look.
Your poor American Romeo 😉

I will have to try and find that statue when I will be in Amsterdam next (and have a bit of time on my hands). I’ve been through the red light district once with a Norwegian driver who knew his way around Amsterdam a lot better than I did. Mind you, he was male…

Nancy Atkinson

LOL! This one made my day!

I’ve never in my life seen anyone look as bored as the prostitutes in Amsterdam’s red light district. Surely that can’t be good for business!

I found the red light district tame actually. I see a lot worse during San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair (celebrating all things leather and fetish), Gay Pride Parade and Bay to Breakers. Lots of nudity by men, most of whom you’d rather not see in straps or buck naked. And of course SF’s Tenderloin is teeming with old prostitutes and drug addicts out in full force. I’d much rather spend my days in the Red Light District where at least there’s beautiful women!

Amsterdam is quite a city. I went in my single college days, and can’t wait to now take my wife!

I believe she’s at loss. She could have tried to have 4 customers instead of one! This is what happened when I passed there with a guest from abroad: open invitation to get some firsthand experience. As I am a total bore I declined. My loss, according to her.

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