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Dave



Born in Swindon, Wiltshire, England in 1956


Dave was a regular visitor of the Amsterdam gay scene in the 1970's. He first saw Amsterdam in 1973, visited the city again in 1974 and moved to Amsterdam in 1976. We let him tell his own story:


Dave in 1982
Dave in 1982
I lived in Amsterdam between 1976 and 1978, it was truly a Mecca for gays with its many bars and clubs in a small area making it easy to walk around the village with great diversity and wonderful people from all over the world.

In those days flights were expensive and most travelled from the UK on the magic bus by train and coach for £ 20 return. Accommodation was affordable 25 guilders a night for a room in a gay hotel for two with a great ontbijt.

Cheap and affordable accommodation was the key to so many visitors from all over the world with a great variety of bars and clubs each a unique atmosphere and ambience made Amsterdam a place to visit for people from all over Holland and beyond.



Dave at the Damrak in 1973
(private photo)


On my first visit to Amsterdam in 1973, aged 17, I had to falsify my British Visitor Passport changing the date of birth with one stroke, in order to get entry to the DOK :)

(DOK was the oldest and biggest gay disco of Europe, but entrance was 18+. It was founded in 1953 in the cellar of the Odeon building at Singel 460, and was therefore named De Odeon Kelder (The Odeon Cellar). DOK closed in 1989.)

The gay scene

In my time in Amsterdam all the bars were focussed on the Amstel from the munt tower. Hotel de l'Europe onwards to the Amstelstraat and the side streets, also the Kerkstraat was hungover from the late 1960's with many bars and clubs, Club Lord, Playboy, Aero Hotel, Homolulu, West End Hotel and Bar, and others I cannot remember them all, but always a wonderful welcome from the amazing barmen and owners.

Great characters behind the bars making us welcome, Manfred at the Amstel Taverne, Rudi at the old Queens Head in Beulingstraat, and drinking in the wonderful dutch bar scene with Dutch and international music was a delight, the doormen ensuring no unwanted types made the mistake of coming in to upset the atmosphere. I still joke to this day that in amsterdam you do not pay to go into the clubs you have to pay to get out :)




This picture shows Manfred Langer, pre chez Manfred and pre iT, and he is posing with Astrid Nijgh, who caused a huge scandal on the gay scene when she married a big show biz wedding to Adje from the Amstel Taveerne, while having a love affair with Olga the bar maid :)

The nice thing was the older people, who kept their eyes on us, who provided great hostelries for us to drink in and watched we didn't get into trouble. The friendliness, always a great Dutch/Amsterdam welcome. The music was mostly reel to reel high quality tape recorders and the Bar men/hosts would guage the music so well for ambience required. I miss those great barmen.

People seem somehow ashamed of the Dutch bar tradition and muziek, but for a visitor it is wonderfull, we can listen to incessant repetitive beats anywhere, but to hear Dutch singalong bar muziek and the wonderful dutch songs is a joy and makes memories - but hey I am getting old and memories are good :)



Amstel Taveerne



Sexual freedom

Amsterdam was really een Kleine Dorpje. Everyone knew everyone and of course we had no HIV/AIDS at that time, everything was curable and we even used to cruise in the Clap Clinic op de Groeneburgwal and also embarrassingly bump into our friends in there getting their tests and cures :)

It was all a heady mix of drinking and sex and people flying in from all over the world just to be a part of the wonderful diversity and tolerance of Amsterdam, which didn't even exist in England, where the bars would close at 11 on Friday and Saturday nights, and dark rooms and saunas did not exist even in London in those days. It was the sexual freedom that attracted visitors to Amsterdam, really it was rare elsewhere in those days.


Kerkstraat

At that time Kerkstraat was suffering a hangover from the 1960's, didn't Shirley Bassey used to drink in The Club Playboy (I was told) tho in my time it was really never busy, the young crowd preferring the sounds and atmosphere of Club Lord.
Taverne De Pul was a daytime bar under the Aero Hotel and I could get a morning or afternoon drink there, prior to the evening rush hour at De Amstel Taverne, where I often was there as soon as the door opened.



Amstel Taveerne



Amstel

When I lived in Amsterdam we used the Amstel Taverne and The Favorite, and my favorite bar of all Amsterdam was Moors Eldorado. All changed and the wonderful people all gone many dead unfortunately.

Renee at Moors Eldorado was fantastic and an inspiration, so on the ball behind the oval bar always immaculately coiffed and dressed, and always a look of delight on his face and so entertaining, as he introduced you to other patrons, far more than just a barman, whilst Moor herself span the latest imports from America on her turntables.

De Amstel Taverne with Dolly, Olga, Henk and of course Manfred :) all under the watchful eye of Adje and his mother, what a place was De Amstel Taverne.
I cannot remember the name of the bartender at De Favorite on de Reguliersbreestraat opposite Broodje Van Dobben, where we would retreat and take our broodjes and melk, before going back for more fun :)



Dave and friends outside Amstel Taveerne
(private photo)



Reguliersdwarsstraat

When I lived in amsterdam Reguliersdwarsstraat had MacDonalds bar, The Viking and Coffeeshop Downtown only, and was a great street with a promising future. I do have many happy memories of Reguliersdwarstraat, but in the 70's, it was much nicer then and far less a ghetto, to my mind, sometimes less is more.

I loved De Viking club a more underground and alternative crowd than the DOK which was far more IN, the Coffeeshop Downtown in those days was overseen by the owners Angel (and his boyfriend) and Ari (and his boyfriend), who took it in turns to look after us all and the beautiful forever young Kareltje.



Dave and Kareltje on the Kloveniersburgwal, Summer 1977
Karel was also known as Amanda and worked in the kitchen
at Coffeeshop Downtown with Angel and Ari
(private photo)



I would have my haircut at Boy, which was the trendiest hairdresser in Amsterdam, and that was it, oh no I am forgetting the fabulous MacDonald Bar, one of the oldest and earliest bars in the street.

This was always a nice place to talk with older and more discerning gay gentlemen, like Jan Gravendeel RIP (who owned and ran the only Michelin Star restaurant in Amsterdam at that time: De Gravenmolen on the Lijnbaansteeg down off of the Singel, with its mini red light district right outside), and other distinguished gay gentlemen.


Marriage

Dave got married in Amsterdam on Saturday, May 1st, and celebrated his honeymoon in the Metro Bar in Amstelstraat, where Bette Midler and the Staggering Harlettes "Going to the Chapel of Love" and Billy Joel's "Honesty" was played:

We took a wedding cake with us from England and were all dressed in white, walking thru the Rembrandtsplein with blossoms in our hair carrying our wedding cake with two little men on top, it was an event in those days, and my friend Derk, a silversmith, made the rings :)



Dave and Gary, 1982
(private photo)



Nowadays

I returned after more than two decades to find many changes in Amsterdam, not to my liking, but that was down to the people, more american influence in the bars and clubs, less characters behind the bars, a concentration of bars in one street making it a ghetto.

The Central Post Office, once a joy to enter and feel dwarfed by its magnifcent interior, is now an overcrowded shopping mall :( The Centraal Station so run down inside and out, forever being upgraded and the front plaza always being dug up lol always was so. A dutch friend of mine says Amsterdam is great, it will be wonderful when it is finished.

It seems so much more congested, heaving even, and so many trashy coffee bars selling mushrooms and pot, it used to be special now it is common and cheap. I used to love taking koffie in the American Cafe, it was bustling with artists and hippies and gays having toasties and koffie and now it is empty...

We used to dance in the kelder at the DOK and chill upstairs until the trams started running, a lot of the gay hotels are gone too, but still it is a joy to walk the streets and grachten where I once had so much fun, but really there are some hideous new buildings :D

These days, with liberation all over Europe, and with cheap travel, people have more choices and Amsterdam became less unique and more expensive, especially with the British Pound worthless for last two years. Back in 1970's the 7 o'clock flight from London to Amsterdam was known as The Queens Flight :D


Links

- More about the history of Moors Eldorado

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Reguliers.net Ⓒ 2007-2014 - Contact
Reguliers.net Ⓒ 2007-2014 / Contact
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