Fate of the Red Light District 2015
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I’ve been spending a few summer days in Amsterdam for five years now, and notice changes in the Red Light District. City council here’s decided that the Red Light gives a bad impression to the tourists visiting the city as this neighborhoods about the first impression one gets after leaving Central Station. Coffee houses disappear when rental leases end, relocated to other sections of the city. Messages are left behind with hope that customers will find their ways to new locations – outside of the Red Light District.
My favorite, Hunter’s Coffee Shop, is now a bar, no weed. I’ve stopped to have a cup of coffee. there’s an constant flow of happy tourists coming in. They hurry past me to what used to be the drug counter at the back of the room. A Hunter’s employee is waiting there to give them the bad news, and a map to where the new Hunter’s is, on Rembrandtplein – about a fifteen minute walk from where we are. The odds are would-be customers won’t take that walk as there are still some coffee houses left inside the Red Light District. Baba’s one of them. It’s been around a long time, and has turned into a gold mine this year with so little competition.
The Baba’s packed from morning until closing time – full house. You cannot see the dealer’s counter in this photo, off to the left side, and down a hallway that’s too short and narrow to contain the line of customers. Always at least a dozen waiting, takes 15 minutes, or less, to make your way to the front.
Twelve buyers every fifteen minutes, pay between twelve and twenty Euros for one gram, five grams the max that one can buy. Assuming a minor purchases, one gram, twelve Euros (thirteen bucks U.S.) 48 deals an hour, would be five hundred bucks, and change – modest estimate. Nobody buys a single gram, except to sample something new. There’s also coffee, soft drinks, T-shirts, lighters. I suspect the Baba will remain where it is now, but only time will tell.
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Sex also sells, and prostitutes are also being moved. When the hooker window leases end the city buys them up, and no new hookers with be given license to practice. A lot of windows are now vacant.
The future may look less than bright for prostitutes, but voyeur sex is easily available and shows no sign of disappearing. Casa Rosso is the largest and the most prestigious. For 40 Euros you can watch couples doing it in all kinds of creative and sometime humorous ways. I must confess I’ve never seen the show, but you can hear the audience’s cheers and laughter on the street outside the place. There’s always a long line of people waiting to get in. Show lasts less than an hour – another money maker. Rosso owns a dozen other sexy places, walks the streets beside his bodyguard, in a white coat with gold elephant emblazoned upon it.
I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more to this than just to modify the tourist’s first impressions. Red Light is the oldest part of town, canal laced –charming. Beautiful would be an understatement . . . paradise for backpacked youth.
Hostels abound, and fast food places, inexpensive. I suspect that’s going to change, replaced by three and four star, posh hotels, and costly restaurants. More mature tourists will happily play the price, and go on tours to hear about the way things used to be. I wonder if the end result will be some kind of Red Light Disneyland, with safe, synthetic highs and robot hookers in the windows, like a chapter out of Stephan King’s Dark Towers fantasy.
(Insert coin every 15 minutes)
Does a sexy Disneyland await us in some distant future?