This was the very first gay bar in Reguliersdwarsstraat. When it opened in 1963, it had, like all gay bars in those days, curtains in front of the window and a doorman at the door to prevent suspicious people getting in.
Nevertheless, MacDonald always was a very decent bar, which was often visited by younger gay guys. This was also because men under the age of 21 were legally not allowed into the famous gay disco DOK, which was almost right around the corner at Singel 460.
In 1982 MacDonald was taken over by Manfred Langer (who founded the world famous gay disco iT seven years later), and turned into a more trendy gay bar called Traffic. This place was soon taken over by a friend of Manfred and existed until 1991.
De Viking was the first gay disco in Reguliersdwarsstraat. At first this was a rather hippie styled venue, but later on it got a bad name because of the business boys, the drug dealers and the wild sex parties. The Viking also had the first darkroom in Reguliersdwarsstraat.
In 1987 The Viking was closed after a drug raid by the police. After a complete renovation it was succeeded by the popular mixed gay dancing Havana.
April was the most famous gay bar of Amsterdam. The venue was opened in June 1981 by Frans Monsma and Guus Silverentand, who were already owners of the nearby
gay coffee bar Downtown.
Cafe April was the first gay bar in Europe
with doors and windows wide open. With its light, modern
and trendy interior, April was also in general one of the hippest
bars of those days.
April decorated for an Easter party in 1982
Because of its spectacular decorations and big and fancy parties, April became almost instantly the most famous gay bar of Amsterdam. Many people from all over the world came here just to visit Café April in Reguliersdwarsstraat.
Café-bar April in 1983
(photo: David Jarrett)
click for a bigger picture
In 1996 April was completely renovated and made 3 times as big as before: the largest gay bar at that time in all of Europe. Eye-catching attraction was the carousel bar in the back part, which rotated around together with stools and visitors!
The new rotating bar in 1996
April was again completely renovated in 2008-2009 and became bigger as ever before. The famous architect Eric Kuster designed a new interior with colorful LED-lights and a tribal tattoo theme: this was meant to be just as international and sexy as April and its visitors:
The third interior of April in July 2009
Due to a conflict between the owner, bar-tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra, and the Heineken company, April was closed in May 2010. Not until a year later, the bar was taken over by Casper Reinders, who build a completely new interior and renamed it into Ludwig II. This exclusive high end gay bar was no succes, and therefore turned into a straight underground bar named Ludwig in May 2012.
> For many more pictures, see Café April (in Dutch)
Exit was situated in a former coach-house, dating back from 1766, which in the mid-eighties housed the exclusive bar and restaurant L'Entree. This was a favorite place of many Dutch celebrities.
In 1988 this venue was bought by bar-tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra, turned into a disco for nearby gay bar April, and therefore originally named April's Exit. It was completely refurbished in 2001 and finally renamed Club Exit.
Exterior of Exit in 2007
Exit was a big gay disco with two bars and a large dancefloor with an overlooking balcony. Each of these areas had its own music: popular music at the first floor bar; R&B, Hiphop, Rap & Latin at the second floor bar and club, Electro, Vocal and Tribal music spinned by a DJ on the dance floor.
On the top floor of Exit there was a new chillout lounge and finally a darkroom, which made the atmosphere of the club rather cruisy. But that's also where a wide variety of gay boys, guys, men but also some women came for.
The dance floor of Exit in 2007
Due to a conflict between the owner, bar-tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra, and the Heineken company, Club Exit was closed on April 6th, 2010. In 2011 the disco was taken over by Rob de Jong, who previously opened venues like Bar ARC and Club Roque. The venue got a completely new interior and was reopened in October 2012 under the name Club NYX.
Havana was a mixed gay bar and dancing
and the most popular venue of the 90's. It was opened in the place of the former disco De Viking by Frans Monsma, who earlier owned the famous April.
The Havana had a warm, but also international style and was famous for its drag queen performances with Nickie Nicole, the Eurovision Song Festival parties and the musical nights.
Upstairs one could dance on the very trendy club music of DJ's such as Natarcia, Kathy, and Groovemaster Johnson. This music attracted both gay and straight, male and female, white and black people.
The ground floor bar of Havana in 1989
Havana also became famous for the spectacular Hollywood Parties, organized in cooperation with the legendary gay disco iT in nearby Amstelstraat. These parties started in Havana, and with limousines and carriages the wunderfully dressed up people were driven to iT to continue the night:
Hollywood Party starting at Havana
and ending at Club iT (1991)
(video: Jan Greeve)
In 1996 Havana was taken over by bar-tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra, who closed the venue down in 2002. Nothing happened until in 2005 the building was squatted by a group of people who turned it into a place for alternative and artistic activities for some time.
A few years later the building was completely renovated, and finally in April 2009 a new Havanna was opened here. This started as a straight venue, turned into a gay venue, but failed to become a succes and therefore closed by March 2010.
The new interior of Havana in 2009
The venue was reopened for the third time by the end of 2010, and once again on July 21, 2011, when together with the new Ludwig II and EVE, Havana was reopened by the mayor of Amsterdam. Unfortunately, this new Havana didn't survive long: it was closed already in January 2012.
ARC was opened in June 2002 by Anqelique,
Rob & Company and its name was derived
from their initials. The cosmopolitan styled
interior was designed by the famous architect
Eric Kuster. This attracted the most trendy gay
and straight people, and also a lot of celebrities. In 2003 Bar ARC, which originally was also a
restaurant, won the title of the city's Best
Bar ARC in 2008
By the end of 2007 ARC was taken over by bar-tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra. This made him the sole owner of all big gay venues in
During the first Pink Christmas event of 2008
there was a living gay Nativity scene in the back
garden of ARC. This scene was heavily criticised,
but also attracted world wide media attention.
After the collapse of the Kooistra-company, Bar ARC was closed for the time being on September 6th, 2010. Eventually the bar was taken over by a new owner, who redecorated the interior, renamed it into EVE and reopened it on July 21, 2011. EVE had to close within a year, and now here's a high end cocktail bar named Dvars.