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Former Gay Venues


In the past there were also some famous and interesting gay venues in Reguliersdwarsstraat:

Café Mac Donald     Disco De Viking

Café April     Club Exit

Dancing Havana     Bar ARC

Café Mac Donald
Reguliersdwarsstraat nr. 11
1017 BJ Amsterdam
(1963 - 1982)

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, Mac Donald 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 located almost right around the corner at Singel 460.

In 1982, Mac Donald 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. Accordingly it was decorated with all kinds of traffic lights and signs. This place was soon taken over by a friend of Manfred and existed until 1991.

A view into Reguliersdwarsstraat with a glimpse of
the sign of the "Mac Donald Club", May 13, 1969
(photo: J.M. Arsath Ro'is - click to enlarge)


De Viking
Reguliersdwarsstraat nr. 17-19
1017 BJ Amsterdam
(1976 - 1987)

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.

Exterior of De Viking during the interior demolition
(photo: Facebook/Havana Reunie - Click to enlarge)

In 1987, The Viking was closed after a drug raid by the police. For a short time the place was reopened by new owners under the name Oscar. After a complete renovation it was succeeded by the popular mixed gay dancing Havana.

Interior of De Viking during the demolition
(photo: Facebook/Havana Reunie - Click to enlarge)

- About the owner: Business Boy – Funeral of Reint Koning


Café April
Reguliersdwarsstraat 37
1017 BK Amsterdam
(1981 - 2010)

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
(photo: collection Frans Monsma)

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.

Exterior of gay cafe April in 1983
(photo: David Jarrett - click to enlarge)

In 1996, April was completely renovated and made three 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 of cafe April 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 was meant as a gay bar, but was too exclusive to become successful. Within a year it was turned into a straight underground bar named Ludwig.

> For many more pictures, see Café April (in Dutch)

- Gay News: April Celebrates Twenty Fifth Anniversary


Club Exit
Reguliersdwarsstraat nr. 42
1017 BM Amsterdam
(1988 - 2010)

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.

A compilation of tracks that DJRW mixed at club Exit in 1991 can be heard here.

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 place was taken over by Rob de Jong, who previously opened venues like Bar ARC and Club Roque. The former Exit got a completely new interior and was reopened in October 2012 under the name Club NYX.

- Photos: Old interior of Club Exit


Reguliersdwarsstraat 17-19
1017 BJ Amsterdam
(1989 - 2002)

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 gay disco De Viking by Frans Monsma, who earlier created the famous gay bar 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 left part of the ground floor interior of Havana
(photo: Highlow Productions - click to enlarge)

The right part of the ground floor interior of Havana
(photo: Highlow Productions - click to enlarge)

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:

Hollywoodparty with Manfred Langer outside Havana (early 1990s)
(photo: collection Frans Monsma - click to enlarge)

In 1996 Havana was taken over by bar-tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra, but his more commercial approach led to a decline in the number of fancy parties.

When the landlord wanted to raise the rent, Kooistra suddenly closed the venue in 2002. Nothing happened until in 2005 the building was squatted by a group of students 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 the new Havana in 2009

The place 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. This fourth Havana also didn't manage to survive very long: it was closed already in January 2012.


Reguliersdwarsstraat 44
1017 BM Amsterdam
(2002 - 2010)

ARC was opened in June 2002 by Anqelique Schippers, Rob de Jong & Company and its name was derived from their initials. The cosmopolitan styled interior was designed by the famous architect Eric Kuster. All 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 Cocktail Bar.

360-degree panorama of the interior of Bar ARC

360-degree panorama of the interior of Bar ARC

360-degree panorama of the interior of Bar ARC
Click the picture to start, use your mouse to navigate!

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 Reguliersdwarsstraat. As many people feared, the place couldn't keep up its high standards under the new management and gradually lost its glamourous image.

Bar ARC in 2008

During the first Pink Christmas event of 2008 there was a living gay Nativity scene in the back garden of ARC. This was heavily criticised by some Christian groups, but also attracted world wide media attention:

Living gay Nativity scene in the garden of ARC (2008)

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 was not very successful had to close within a year.

Soon it was succeeded by a high end cocktail bar named Dvars, but this place burnt down in September 2014. With a completely new interior, restaurant-bar La Cage opened here in February 2015.

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