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GAY STREET

 


Reguliersdwarsstraat is the most famous gay street of Amsterdam. The forerunner of this was lunchroom Downtown, where gays had not hidden themselves behind blinded windows and doors already since 1970.

The big breakthrough came when from 1980 onwards, Downtown and April organized high-profile parties in which gay and straight people went together seamlessly and which made Reguliersdwarsstraat the hippest nightlife area of the city.




A view alongside April and Downtown (1983)
(photo: David Jarrett)


Famous

The most famous venues of the street were café April (1981-2010) and dancing Havana (1989-2002), both opened by Frans Monsma. They attracted visitors from home and abroad and still many people think back to them with melancholy.

Later these places were taken over by bar tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra, who also opened gay disco Exit (1988-2010) and the Exit Café, as well as café-pub Soho. Finally, he also bought cocktailbar ARC (2002-2010).

Under Kooistra the still popular Happy Hour was introduced and ever larger street parties were organized, culminating with the performance of Kylie Minogue during the Gay Pride in the year 2000:



Performance of Kylie Minogue during Gay Pride (2000)
(video: MVS Gaystation)


Celebrations

The Amsterdam Gay Pride, with its famous boat parade, was set up in 1996 by a group of people from Havana, not as a protest or demonstration, but to celebrate the freedom and diversity of the city.

That's also how in Reguliersdwarsstraat the Pride is celebrated with a big street party, just as is the case during King's Day - which is the successor to Queen's Day, that was celebrated in the street already since the eighties:




Street party during Queen's Day (2009)


Current gay places

Nowadays, Reguliersdwarsstraat has about as many gay venues again as before 2010, when the business empire of late Mr. Kooistra collapsed and all his bars had to close.

In addition to the famous lunchroom Downtown, there's the classic café-club Soho, the late night Exit Café, the hip openminded club NYX, and the popular Taboo Bar with neighboring Taboo Kantine as the latest addition.

In the eastern part of the street, between Vijzelstraat and Rembrandtplein, there are the mixed café 't Dwarsliggertje and the Caribbean gay bar Reality.




Taboo Kantine and Taboo Bar at night (2018)


Gay Village

Besides the nightlife venues there are also a few gay-friendly coffeeshops, a number of gay lifestyle shops and hairdressers as well as a series of restaurants where gays traditionally like to come.

With this concentration of gay-oriented businesses, Reguliersdwarsstraat can rightly be called the Gay Village of Amsterdam, comparable to the gay neighborhoods of major cities elsewhere in the world.




Lots of green in the Secret Village of Reguliersdwarsstraat (2018)


Secret Village

The village character also speaks from the seclusion by the surrounding buildings and the pedestrian area and is further enhanced by the planting that was introduced in 2016, when the western part of the street was renamed to Secret Village.

Under this name, the business association wants to make the street more attractive, while maintaining the gay character. The latter was clearly demonstrated during the celebration of EuroPride in 2016:




Street party celebrating EuroPride (2016)



Links

- In Portuguese: Reguliersdwarsstraat, a histórica rua gay de Amsterdam

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