LGBTQ+ Guide to Amsterdam
Church is a fetish club in Amsterdam that is popular for socialising, dancing and cruising. The club organises themed nights dedicated to a wide variety of preferences, ranging from sportswear and jockstraps to leather, masks, twinks, and watersports. The club is open for (trans) men only, but all genders and sexualities are welcome during the weekly party ‘Blue’, the underwear party (Bi)zonderbroek, and the monthly Hookersball (‘u might get laid but u won’t get paid!’).
Exit Cafe is a gay bar in après ski style that is part of club Nyx. It is a great place to dance, especially after midnight. During the monthly Vodka Wednesday XXL, you can reach all floors and walk back and forth between Exit and Nyz. It is also a nice place to watch Eurovision and Rupaul’s Drag Race.
NYX is an open-minded gay club where everybody is welcome, whether you are gay, straight, male, female or somewhere in between. On Wednesday and Thursday the place attracts students, and on Saturdays there’s the gay night 3xNYX. Besides the dancing area, there are two floors, each with their own bar. On the top floor, there’s a large smoking lounge and a colorful bathroom area. In each of these spaces, DJs spin different styles of music.
Amstel54 is a nicely decorated gay bar on a beautiful location next to the Amstel and close to the Rembrandtplein. The place is most busy on Wednesdays when the students of the local LGTBQ+ association ASVGAY visit the bar, and on Sundays, when the bar hosts it’s weekly drag show. You can check their Facebook Page for a complete overview of all their events
The Lellebel is a small but lively bar which offers themed nights, bingo and karaoke parties, seven days a week the whole year round. The focus of The Lellebel is towards the transvestite, transsexual, gay and lesbian community. Dragqueens often practice and perform here, so if you want to give it a try yourself the owners are more than happy to welcome you!
The Trut is a non-commercial dike and faggot disco that is only open on Sunday, from 22.00 till 02.45. From its beginning until the present, the main goal has been to offer affordable prices and a safe environment where dikes, trans people, and fags can party together. All the employees of De Trut work on a voluntary basis so the costs are relatively low, and according to the statutes of De Trut, that profit must be solely used for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community. To make it a safe space for everyone, it is not allowed to use your phone and to make pictures in de Trut. However, if you want to share your number with someone you can ask for free pencil and paper at the bar!
Vrankrijk is an autonomous political cafe in a formerly squatted house in the center of Amsterdam. They organise WTF Queer evenings every Wednesday hosted by drag queers living in Amsterdam. Every Wednesday brings a new theme and performance, celebrating visible queer cultural diversity. WTF Wednesday creates safe queer space through a mixture of visual and performance art, musicians and local drag kings and queens. Each week brings a variety of entertainment including films, live bands and performance. If you want to enjoy food and drinks on beforehand, you can come along and enjoy some vegan food between 19.00 and 21.30.
Café Saarein is one of the few original ‘bruine kroegen’ left in Amsterdam with an early twentieth-century interior. In 1978 a group of ten women formed a collective and took over the café. This set the base for Amsterdam’s infamous women’s café, which is now open for all ‘queer minded people’. Music, playing pool and flirting are the main ingredients of this small and cosy café which is situated in the old picturesque part of town, close to all central amenities.
Cafe ‘t Mandje
Cafe ‘t Mandje was opened in 1927 and is one of the oldest gay bars of Amsterdam. Café ’t Mandje was one of the first bars where homosexual men and women didn’t have to hide their sexual orientation. The bar was opened by the legendary Bet van Beeren, who was a pioneer in human rights and openly welcomed gays and lesbians in times when homosexuality was not commonly accepted, to mingle with the sailors, neighbors, artists and intellectuals who also frequented the little bar. Inside still remains the enormous collection of souvenirs: cut-off men’s ties, underwear and lots and lots of photo’s, spanning more than 90 years.
The most central and safe cruising area of Amsterdam is located in the rose garden of the Vondelpark. During the day, the rose garden serves as a popular meeting place for LGBTQ+ people. During the night, the park is primarily used by gay and trans men. Cruisers gather around the benches on the sides of the park, and in the bushes surrounding it. This starts after sunset, and the park is most heavily cruised after 23:00 when the ‘conventional’ users of the park are gone. Police is occasionally present, but generally respectful and well aware of the situation.
Location: 52.357450, 4.863634
Further to the East, cruising takes place at the east side of the lake in the Oosterpark. Over the past few years, several incidents have been reported to the police. The local government has therefore placed subtle lights to make the area less dark. In addition, the Pink in Blue police force regularly surveils the area to keep it safe.
Location: 52.360506, 4.923834
De Oeverlanden is the biggest and most diverse cruising area in Amsterdam. It is visited by men as well as women, so both straight and gay couples meet here. Cruising takes place during the day as well as during the night. The site is especially popular during warm summer days, when naturists relax on the open field. To prevent incidents with other users of the park, the local government has installed signs which tell you exactly where you can legally cruise. There is also a bus that regularly visits the site, and allows you to do a free STD test.
Location: 52.335393, 4.823497
Nieuwezijds Gay Sauna
This sauna for (trans) men is open 365 days per year and offers a fully licensed bar with lounge, whirlpool, Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, private cabins, light meals, masseurs, smoker’s lounge and ample relaxing and cruising space. The sauna is coming from the same team that created Club Church. The sauna is most busy during the weekends, on ‘no towel Tuesdays’, and on Monday when men between 18 and 26 get a discount. According to their website transgender men are allowed to come in, however, the staff is not always aware of this. Luckily, every second saturday of the month is a genderfluid night during which all gender and sexualities are welcome.
Trans men: Welcome 🙂
Entrance: €19.50/€14.50/€10.00 Concessions
Is Burning is a popular gay party which once started in the infamous Trouw in Amsterdam. It has since then been hosted at several other locations and festivals around the city. Is Burning is inspired by the old skool LGBT club culture, with a passion for underground house music, from Disco and Chicago House to Techno. Is Burning is a desire to be absolutely free, to shine and to be who you want to be.
Spielraum is an advanturous queer techno night which takes place in RADION, a great alternative night club that can be found in the outskirts of the city. Spielraum provides a place to play, a place to dance and a place to be yourself. No matter how old you are, where you come from or whatever you prefer, Spielraum provides a space in which you can move freely and discover who you are.
Rapido is a circuit party for gay men that is held in Paradiso a couple of times a year. The smaller version of Rapido is called Funhouse and this party takes place at the Westergasfabriek. The largest editions are held during King’s Day in April and Amsterdam Gay Pride in August. Both parties attract an international crowd of overwhelmingly masculine men who are scantily dressed. Entertainment is present in the form of techno music, laser shows and go-go dancers. Designated play areas can be found on the balconies, but don’t expect too much privacy and bring your own protection.
Want to experience Amsterdam from a historic and gay perspective? Come and join the LGBTour; a queer walk through the pink heart of the city. As a storyteller and as part of the LGBTQ+ community, Sanne would love to show you her favorite hidden and queer gems, while sharing personal and historic stories about the free city; from the old and dirty to the fresh and glittery. You are most welcome, the rainbow is for everyone!
The Homomonument (Gay Monument) is a memorial located between the Westerkerk and the Keizersgracht in the city center of Amsterdam. The monument consists of three pink granite triangles, laid out in such a way that together they form a large triangle. It serves as a place to commemorate all homosexual men and women who have been persecuted for their orientation and inspires and supports queer people in their struggle for recognition. Besides remembrance, there is also room for festivities and protest. During big manifestations, such as Gay Pride, King’s Day (April 26th) and Freedom Day (May 5th), you can join one of the vibrant street parties held at the gay monument.
Gay pride in Amsterdam is one of the biggest pride celebrations around the globe. The pride is over a week-long, starts on the last Saturday of July and lasts until the first Sunday of August. During this week, the city hosts street parties, debates, exhibitions, dance parties, film screenings, sporting events and of course: the world-famous Canal Parade.
Drag Queen Olympics
One of the best parties during the pride week is the Drag Queen Olympics. This joyful competition takes place at the gay monument on the Westermarkt in Amsterdam. The Drag Olympics are the world’s premier sporting event for drag queens and kings, and the games which are played include Stiletto Sprint, Handbag Toss, Bitch Volleyball and a surprise game that will be revealed on the day itself.
Superball is the biggest drag battle in Europe, in which international houses compete against each other in three different rounds; the Lipsync round, the Dance-Off round and the Catwalk round. More than a hundred drag queens can be seen on stage, during a fantastic evening full of top entertainment. At the end of the evening, the audience will vote and decide who will go away with the title ‘House of Superball 2018’. There is a free afterparty which you can join after the award ceremony.
Milkshake is a dance festival for ‘boys who love girls who love girls who love boys who love boys…’ that has been developed from the mindset that everything is allowed. It shows that entertainment, choice of music, clothing choice and status have nothing to do with sexuality. Milkshake celebrates the city and its initiatives and is committed to a little more courtesy and love for each other. Thick, thin, small, big, gay, straight, trans, travo, pitch black or lily white: you can celebrate it all during the Milkshake festival!
Pink Film Days
The Roze Filmdagen (meaning ‘Pink Film Days’) is the largest film festival for LGBTQ films in the Netherlands. The wide and varied section of films includes romantic comedies, thrillers, powerful drama, provoking documentaries and everything in between. The variety in films reflects the diversity of the community. For eleven days, you can meet and mingle with filmmakers and visitors who celebrate sexual diversity by watching sparkling, provocative, urgent, and engaging films.
Feminist Art Fest
In both art and philosophy, a lot of groups have been and are still being structurally excluded. Feminist Art Fest changes this, by offering a platform for artists, philosophers, academics and experts lacking recognition by mainstream institutions. It organises feminist events which amplify unheard voices and stories.
International Queer Migrant Film Festival
The International Queer Migrant Film Festival (IQMF) is a multi-day film festival, that screens films on queer and migrant topics and celebrates queer art and culture worldwide. Screenings are surrounded by lively discussions between the maker, subjects of the film and the public.
ASVGAY is the Amsterdam student association for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students. The association was established in 2010 and has attracted more than 270 members. It hosts a weekly evening in Amstel54, and organises yearly trips and summer camps in which queer students can celebrate their lives. The organisation also has a buddy system, so if you find it difficult to come on your own, a trustee committee will make sure you know someone before you join the weekly drinks.
Pink in Blue
A great thing about gay life in Amsterdam is the existence of a queer police force called ‘Roze in Blauw’ (Pink in Blue). They are present during all major manifestations and serve as a central point of contact in case of LGBTQ+ discrimination. The crew is very friendly so don’t hesitate to contact them if you experience harassment or if you feel unsafe.
Telephone: (020) 559 5385
Proud is an association for sex workers which is run by sex workers themselves. Sex work is used as a broad and inclusive umbrella term, so all sex workers, regardless of what erotic/sexual services they offer, are welcome. The association informs sex workers about their rights, provides concrete help in conflicts with the police and employers, and offers assistance with removing images from the internet. At the political level, PROUD gives sex workers the opportunity to work as freelancers without the intervention of external operators.