The Red Light District

Fifty Shades of Red

Prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world. In as early as the 1300’s women would carry red lanterns and meet sailors near ports, taverns and clubs. Why red you may wonder? The colour red has many symbolic and religious meanings. Not only is red the colour of love, sexuality and seduction but it is also closely associated with danger. There is a reason stop signs are made red. Perhaps it is also because red tends to attract the most attention.

Naughty Snow White
Red Stop Light

The red light district, in Amsterdam, leaves nothing to the imagination allowing window prostitutes to legally flaunt their trade since October 2000. After sitting and watching the comings and goings of the red light district for an abnormally long amount of time (or so my husband tells me) I’ve come to learn that contrary to popular belief, the red light district is one of the safest places in Amsterdam, with a strong police presence constantly patrolling the streets.

Red Light District View

Our visit to the Netherlands left Joey and I with enough time on our hands to tour the district once during the day and a few times at night. It was quiet during the day so we visited the Erotic Museum (for €5.00) located between two brothels and had a good laugh at the three floor display of erotic art and sex toys. After the museum, I got to experience my first peep show, something Joey had told me funny stories about. The only way I can think to describe a peep show is by calling it a live sex vending machine. You walk into the curtained booth (making sure not to touch anything, it’s not very sanitary), place €2.00 in the machine slot and wait as the curtain rises to two people have sex on a rotating bed. This promiscuous escapade lasts for about one minute before the curtain drops back down and you are faced with a precarious dilemma; do I pay to watch more or do I call it quits? It was a hilarious eye opener for me. To hear about it was one thing, to actually witness it was another.

Ali at the Sex Museum
Peep Show Neon Sign
Joey and a Gas Mask

Following a delicious supper at one of Joey’s friends house, we returned to see the district at night. Boy had it changed! Loud music, flocks of people, it was a busy beehive of activity. Again we walked around, probably putting a few kilometers under our belt, Joey laughing at me as I stared in awe at these ladies. Always looking for business, we could only laugh when a beautiful Latina prostitute in blue lingerie tried to coax us into her room suggesting we have a threesome. It was such a strange sight.

As the night went on we continued our tour weaving in and out of the narrow alleys. We knew Amsterdam had a red light district but what we didn’t expect was to mistakenly venture into the blue light district. We didn’t see any signs, we didn’t have any warnings, all of a sudden we turned down a street and the women prostitutes suddenly turned into transgender and transvestite men. The blue district has legally been in Amsterdam since 2013, and catering to anyone working as a prostitute who was not naturally born a woman. Used as an informal convention, transgender and transvestite individuals are not mandated to have the blue light and some opt to stick with the traditional red.

The Red Light District
Hanging Condoms
Peep Show Elephant Sign
Lingerie
Neon Sign

If you are heading to Amsterdam to see the blue or red light district, I strongly recommend saving this area for the nighttime. The number of prostitutes flaunting their bodies in the windows increases as the sun sets and the district really comes alive. If you are planning on entering one of the rooms make sure you choose your subject carefully as some boys masquerading as ladies can be very convincing especially for first timers. Once you enter their room by law you are obligated to pay, and the police patrolling the street and bouncers will make sure you do.

So leave your camera at home (as it is illegal to take pictures in this area) and enjoy the neon blue and red lights piercing through the twilight as you witness one of the oldest professions known to man.

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