Amsterdam: Beware of the blue light special

Amsterdam, Netherlands
We arrived to the Hotel Ibis near Schipol Airport, outside of Amsterdam, around 10 pm.  We had hoped to be there hours earlier, but we’re going to play the hand we were dealt.  We quickly changed and headed to the airport to catch a train into the city.  I was wearing my new $100 boots that I had only worn a couple times and absolutely loved.  I was pretty stoked for our night out.
We got into the Central Train Station and per Theresa’s determination, headed to a bar to find some pot.  Now I don’t smoke and I didn’t have any desire to, but I promised my friends I would in Amsterdam.  We went into the first bar we found and Theresa started asking the appropriate questions.  Unfortunately for her and luckily for me, apparently they stop selling pot after a certain time, and it was too late.  So we headed out to a couple bars and eventually the Red Light District.
We took some twists and turns through the streets and alleys of Amsterdam to get to the Red Light District.  It hits you like a brick wall—no doubt whatsoever where you are.  We turned a corner and found a group of British guys laughing hysterically.  The following conversation commenced:
Me:  “What’s so funny?
GOBG (pointing a half a block up the street):  “Our friend is window shopping.”
Me:  “Yeah, still not following.”
GOBG:  “Walk past and look at what he’s looking at.”
So I walk past, she didn’t look so bad.  The guy’s jaw was practically to the ground and drooling.  So what, more power to him.
Me: “Yeah, still not following.”
GOBG:  “What color was the window?”
Me:  “I don’t know, red?”
GOBG:  “Nope, blue.  Do you know what that means?”
I shake my head no.
GOBG:  “It means it’s a man dressed as a woman, and our friend doesn’t know that.”
Now I was following.  They were just letting him look, one of the guys went and informed their friend of what he was gaping at.
Welcome to the Red Light District folks.
We walked around some and came across a live sex show.  For 25 Euro you saw the show, for 35 Euro you got a show and 4 drinks.  We figured, “what the hell, you only live once.”  We shelled out the 35 Euro and headed in.  We buddied up to the bar and ordered our first drink.  From that point on the rest of the evening becomes a bit sketchy.  I remember immediately making friends with the bartender.  I was a former bartender and figured the rules of the game were the same, no matter which side of the Atlantic you were on.  If you make good with a bartender and tip well on the first drink, you’ll get good service the rest of the night.  Bits and pieces of the show flirt in and out of my head.  I know it started out w/a couple, in which it was clear that sex was just a job for them.  Then they did some tricks and called people on stage.  I know when the guys went up by the girl, there was a banana involved.
We made friends with a middle-aged couple from Vegas and two British brothers that were sitting next to us.  By the end of the show, I was pretty drunk and I still had 2 drink tokens left.  By my estimate, I had at least 6 drinks—without paying for 4 of them.  I love bartenders.
We cabbed it back to the hotel and passed out.  We would head back into the city in the morning to check it out in the daylight.
Moral of the Story:  Avoid the blue lights (unless it’s your thing) and treat your bartender well.  You may not remember much the next day, but it will be fun nonetheless.

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Filed under Europe '04

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