As you know by now, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is actually a strangely unseedy place. But never fear! There are still plenty of spots where people will do the things that Urban Dictionary authors write about. So get your hand sanitizer ready -- here are the ‘hood’s five spots to see some action...
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Cost: €40; €50 with two drinks; free for bachelor(ette)s in costume. Sleaze factor: A mere 5 out of 10; it’ll tickle your funny bone more than any other bone, and the stage/audience divide gives you plenty of distance. 8 if you volunteer. What to expect: This is the original Amsterdam sex-theater experience. The show runs in a loop of acts, and you’re welcome to stay until close... but chances are you’ll have had your fill by the time your second drink is down. Expect impressive feats of dexterity by ladies’ lady parts and some heavy-handed comedy, but the audience is really here for the live sex. Generally performed by real-life couples, who are not exactly "porn-star types", it’ll have you more fascinated than titillated. Going on stage is not recommended unless you’re really open-minded...
Cost: €25; €35 with four drinks; deals available for groups Sleaze factor: 6. The stage feels mighty close here, but there's still a nicely varied crowd. What to expect: The discount is thanks to the smaller theater, but the show is quite similar to Casa Rosso. Acts tend to center around props, from ribbons to candles to pens and bananas, and there are male strip teases thrown in for the ladies. Be warned: the barrier between the audience and the stage is pretty thin here...
Cost: €60 entrance, with one hour open bar (recommended); or €25 entrance to the less fun Bananen (strip) Club upstairs, with two drinks (expect pressure for lap dances here, €35+ extra) Sleaze factor: 7. You can pay to get frisky with food, but the dildo fly-bys are free. What to expect: The “Banana Bar” is named for its most famous show: where a performer holds onto said fruit with her, um, lower body... and then buyers may take turns chomping out bites to, er, completion. The show is €75 extra here... so it’ll be a game of chicken to see which group shells out for it before the hour is up. (Hint: try to follow a bachelor party in.) The same lower body parts are also used to sign branded postcards and produce sex toys and other kinky wonders. Not up close and personal enough? You can pay for your buddy to lick whipped cream off one of the performers, which have a reputation for being the best-looking of this sex-show bunch.
Cost: €5 cover; €10-20 lap dances; €6.50 beers Sleaze Factor: 8. The waitresses are topless and the dancers encourage you to get handsy above the waist, and if you get a lap dance, expect to be the show... while bumping knees with the dude sitting next to you. What to expect: The highlight of this bar is its location: down a narrow alleyway across from the super-narrow Trompettersteeg, hidden behind a slightly scary bank of rooms (indoor prostitution “windows”) called La Vie en Rose. Combined with its “classier” (if they say so) little sis bar La Vie Deux in Rembrandtplein, this is Amsterdam’s only “classic” strip joint. After an awkward hour here, you’ll understand why.
Cost: €2 for two minutes in a booth -- can be shared by two girls or a girl and a guy Sleaze factor: 9. Private booths offer more, ahem, personal freedom, but apparently, on weekends, it’s common for people to pee in them... among other things. What to expect: Welcome to Amsterdam’s last peep show. For just €2, you get a short, up-close taste of some of the tamer action from Casa Rosso and the Bananenbar (same owner) -- posing, touching, sometimes live sex -- but in a smaller, seedier, more private setting. Vice Magazine recently released a short doc about the place (obvi NSFW, but watch with English subs on for some gnarly stories)... just in time for the April announcement the Palace is set to close. (Damn you Internet porn!) The plan is to rebirth the location as an upscale nightclub. No word on when or what, but the owner assures it’ll be sex-centered. And until then, the (peep) show WILL go on!
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