Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

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notsofasteddie
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Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

Post by notsofasteddie » Fri 3rd Aug 2018 04:11 pm

Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival


The orgies have gone, but bingo night still draws the crowds: how the Spijker bar has defied the decline of the city’s gay scene


Deborah Nicholls-Lee
Wed 25 Jul 2018


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Canal’s treat ... Participants dance to music on a packed canal boat during Pride Amsterdam. The Spijker Bar, the city’s oldest gay bar, will have its own boat this year to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Photograph: Alamy

“There’s not a single place I haven’t had sex,” reminisces LGBT campaigner and former porn actor Gerrit-Jan Wielinga, 47, showing me around Amsterdam’s oldest gay bar, the Spijker, which turns 40 this year. From 2000 to 2005 he worked as a bartender here: a place where lifelong friendships were made and sex and cheap beer were on tap.

Since those days, the Spijker has hardly changed. The small, dimly lit bruin cafė, with its blacked-out windows, red lights and erotic art, still has its vintage pool table at the back and an open fire. Spijker’s trademark twin TVs behind the bar – one showing porn, and one with cartoons (today it’s Snow White) – have been there since the 80s. Punters would sometimes do a double take, Wielinga remembers, when they recognised him in the onscreen action.

Upstairs, though, the voyeur mirrors around the urinals have gone and the famous dark room is now more of a cupboard – illustrating the bar’s shift from prime cruising spot to a place to meet friends.


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The interior of the Spijker. The decor has not changed in years, although the bar’s primary function has shifted from cruising to a place to meet friends.
Photograph: Courtesy: Deborah Nicholls-Lee

The city beyond the bar echoes this change, with mass tourism now engulfing Amsterdam’s gay scene, and gay and straight visitors partying side by side. Since the late 90s, budget air travel has attracted stag parties and other young weekenders, drawn to the red light district and coffee shops, creating a lucrative market for property investors and squeezing the gay bars out.

Ted Scheele, 67, and her husband Pim, 78, have been coming to the bar since the 70s, when Spijker catered mainly to the leather crowd. “In the beginning, people came here and they did not tell the outside that they were gay. This [place] was very safe, very private,” she says. Today, it is the open friendliness of the bar that makes it special. “Many gay people bring their sisters, their brothers and even their mothers! Even with the videos, they don’t mind – they see actually what it is to be gay.”

When the Spijker opened on Amsterdam’s Kerkstraat in 1978, the area was bursting with gay bars and hotels, and the Leidsestraat – cutting through it and book-ended with gay discos – was nicknamed the “Rue de Vaseline”. Spijker was known for its most beautiful butt competition, in which the winner received a 100-guilder note between their bum cheeks. In 1983, when the bar came under the ownership of theatre enthusiast Raphael Brandow, it even opened its own 65-seat repertory theatre, staging experimental pieces as well as jolly musicals.

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When the Spijker bar opened on Kerkstraat in 1978, the area was bursting with gay bars and hotels. Gay tourism is now more concentrated on festivals and events.
Photograph: Deborah Nicholls-Lee

But the Spijker was hit hard by the advent of Aids in Amsterdam. “One by one, they dropped dead like dominoes,” remembers Pim. “There were times when there were [just] five people in the bar, standing there like skeletons in their leather pants.” Then a GP in the red light district, he estimates that between 1980 and 1986 his practice lost around 150 patients to the disease.

The epidemic demonstrated the importance of the Spijker community and brought its customers closer together. Under a new owner, New Yorker Tony Derosa, the Spijker responded to the Aids crisis and re-engaged a reeling community by organising safe-sex parties during which marshals would circulate carrying trays of condoms and making sure the house rules were observed.

“We were a family and it was a support system,” says Mancunian Paul Tarrant, 57, the Spijker’s current owner, who started at the bar as a cleaner and condom distributor in 1995. “In those days, people needed people to confide in.”

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Didi Licious hosting Saturday night bingo at the Spijker. The event draws the bar’s biggest crowd. Photograph: Courtesy: Deborah Nicholls-Lee

Today, the gay heartlands of the Kerkstraat, the Reguliersdwarsstraat and the red light district are struggling to survive. Since 2010, gay bars such as Argos, Bar Arc, Bump, Café April, Café Soho, Cockring and Havana – to name a few – have all shut up shop despite an action programme launched by the municipality in 2009 to re-establish Amsterdam as the gay capital of Europe. Bankruptcy is the biggest cause, but drugs busts and rent arrears have also forced closures. Now touristy bars, restaurants and karaoke joints serving a mixed crowd have taken their place.

The younger gay people don’t need gay bars any more. They have empowerment now
Paul Tarrant, owner

Just one gay sauna remains, NZ, co-owned by New Zealander Richard Keldoulis, also the manager of Church cruise club. “We [the gay community] had 34 venues with dark rooms when I came here [in 1990],” he says. “Now we’re down to, I think, eight or seven.”

Amsterdam’s cruise bars never really recovered from the Aids epidemic, he says, which knocked out a whole generation of business people and tainted the sex industry. Cruising patterns have since changed and the sector has failed to adapt. “Gay business has stopped being inventive and new and fashionable … There’s a lot where you go in and they’re still playing Eurovision … I don’t think we’re giving people what they want.”

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A typical artwork by Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland, who once drank at the Spijker.
Illustration: Illustrations © Tom Of Finland Foundation

It’s a trend mirrored across the globe, with gay meccas such as London, New York and Tel Aviv all reporting a diminished gay scene. In Soho and Vauxhall, London’s vanishing gay villages, and in New York’s “gaybourhood” of Chelsea, gentrification and rent increases have made it hard for independent gay clubs to compete with the budgets of large property developers and their more profitable super-sized ventures. A once-thriving alternative scene has made way for luxury flats and a homogenised entertainment district.

Gay dating apps such as Grindr and Hornet have also made gay bars increasingly obsolete.

“In the 70s, 80s and 90s, you needed to get out of your house; you needed to go to a park or a bar or a discotheque,” says Wielinga. “I remember all those long nights, hunting men like crazy … With the apps, you can have sex with your neighbour.”

Tarrant believes emancipation is also a factor in the scene’s decline. His regulars tend to be over 40. “The younger gay people don’t need gay bars any more,” he says. “They have empowerment now.

“The typical 90s gay scene is changing,” agrees Janine Fluyt, spokesperson for Amsterdam Marketing, but says Amsterdam is still known as “the open, tolerant and inclusive city, where everyone is welcome”. Gay tourism is still thriving here, she says, but is now more about festivals such as Milkshake and Pride.

In this changing climate, the Spijker has done well to outlive so many of its competitors. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the bar will have its own boat in the canal parade on the 4 August, the highlight of Pride Amsterdam. This year the theme is “heroes”, and the Spijker crew will be commemorating the bar’s early days by dressing as gay icons of the 70s, including Tom of Finland, who once drank at the bar.

The orgies are no more. Now it’s bingo night, hosted each Saturday by drag act Miss Didi Licious, that draws the biggest crowd. The strength of the Spijker, says Tarrant, has really always been the social aspect rather than the cruise scene: “You can come in here on your own and you don’t know anybody and they’ll say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ … It’s just so friendly.”



theguardian



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redeyezman
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Re: Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

Post by redeyezman » Sat 4th Aug 2018 12:04 pm

Can anyone explain to me why Freddie Mercury left everything to his girlfriend Mary?
Shells sink. Dreams float.

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Fat_old_dwarf
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Re: Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

Post by Fat_old_dwarf » Sat 4th Aug 2018 12:21 pm

Can anyone explain to me why even someone as dim and trollish as the above poster thinks his Freddy Mercury obsession is of interest to anyone? There must be message boards devoted to the singer that could help out our poor lost lamb.

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OneHighMofo
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Re: Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

Post by OneHighMofo » Sat 4th Aug 2018 12:22 pm

redeyezman wrote:
Sat 4th Aug 2018 12:04 pm
Can anyone explain to me why Freddie Mercury left everything to his girlfriend Mary?
Well I didn't know them personally. Which counts me (and everyone in the world except the two parties in question) out from having anything even approaching a credible opinion. But I'd assume that he loved her and wanted to see her looked after.

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Re: Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

Post by notsofasteddie » Sat 4th Aug 2018 02:06 pm

The pink euro? Companies gear up for Amsterdam Pride boat parade


Society
August 3, 2018


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Gay Pride in Amsterdam.
Photo: Depositphotos.com


Dutch companies have been going all out to celebrate Amsterdam Pride, the celebration of the city’s gay and transgender community, which reaches its peak on Saturday with the traditional canal boat parade.

High street staple Hema has organised three same-sex marriages for couples who cannot tie the knot in their country of origin and is selling cream slices in rainbow colours.

Station snack bar Smullers has pink mayonnaise on offer, four Shell petrol stations have been transformed with rainbow hues and rainbow flags are flying all over the city.

The commercialisation of Pride, which first took place as Gay Pride in 1996, has irritated some activists. Companies pay €30,000 to operate a boat in the canal parade, which attracts some 500,000 people every year.

‘There are a lot of complaints in my circle about the way the boat parade has become commercialised since companies were able to take part,’ Utrecht University researcher and activist Linda Duits told the Financieele Dagblad.

However, Frits Huffnagel, chairman of the organising committee brushes off the criticism. ‘The event lasts nine days and it costs €1m to put on,’ he said. ‘That is not just for the boat parade, but for the Pride walk, the senior Pride, the trans Pride, the events on the Dam and on Rembrandtplein.’

Council


The city council contributes €250,000 towards the bill and the rest, Huffnagel says, has to be raised by the organisation itself.

Groningen University professor Bob Fennis told the NRC that companies are interested in Pride because of the money to be made from attaching their names to a good cause.

Everyone wants to be seen as supporting diversity and sending out a universal message and there are few risks, he said. ‘In mainstream Dutch society, homosexuality is almost entirely accepted,’ he said.

Pinkwashing


Nevertheless, some companies are being accused of pinkwashing and Hema’s Pride t-shirt range was actually produced in Bangladesh, where homosexuality is a crime.

‘Visibility, that is the painful issue for the gay community at the moment,’ Philip Tijsma, of the COC gay rights campaign group told the NRC. ‘People say they have nothing against homosexuality but two men kissing is seen as shocking.’

‘Every step towards visibility, whether from the government or companies, contributes to normalising homosexuality. There is no acceptance, without visibility.’



dutchnews

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Re: Pride of Amsterdam: city's oldest gay bar celebrates survival

Post by notsofasteddie » Sun 5th Aug 2018 01:29 pm

Here are the 23 best pictures from Amsterdam Pride's Canal Parade 2018

Take a look at some of the best pictures from the only Pride parade on the water

Here are the 23 best pictures from Amsterdam Pride's Canal Parade 2018

Here are the best pictures from the Amsterdam Pride's Canal Parade | All images by Joe Morgan unless stated otherwise

4 August 2018
Joe Morgan


Amsterdam Pride’s Canal Parade is one of the most unique Pride parades in the world.

All on water, 80 boats from the Dutch community take to the water to celebrate Pride.

The theme this year was ‘Heroes’.

This meant superhero costumes, Wonder Woman kissing Catwoman, and many shirtless guys and girls.

Gay Star News was there in the middle of it all, live streaming on Facebook.



Take a look at some of our best pics, as well as a few from Instagram, here:

1. Some took to the skies at Amsterdam Pride
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Instagram

2. While others got dressed…or undressed…
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Instagram

3. One boat remembered the Stonewall Riots in New York City
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4. While some were just there to celebrate (check out the David Bowie boat!)
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5. Eleni from Eurovision was ‘yeah yeah…fire’
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Instagram

6. The theme for Amsterdam Pride was ‘heroes’
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7. And that included bisexuals, fighting for representation
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8. …gay guys enjoying a fun day out
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Instagram

9. …and everyone under the rainbow
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10. Some jumped for joy
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11. Bianca Del Rio and May Day were there as well
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Instagram/Bianca Del Rio

12. The last boat let people know about next year’s World Pride in New York City
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13. There was a lot of heart
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Instagram

14. And a lot of body
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Instagram

15. Iranian LGBTIs had their own boat at the parade
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Instagram

16. Everyone sang along to Eurovision classics
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17. But most of all people were here to celebrate
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Instagram

18. Do a bit of activism…
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19. Kiss
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20. Fight for what they believe in
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21. And have a great time
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Instagram

22. So whether you are gay, straight, bi, trans, lesbian, queer or any other sexual or gender identity, Amsterdam Pride was a perfect day to celebrate and commemorate
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23. And to remember why we fight
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gaystarnews

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