No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the Red Light District. It’s almost as if my fascination to the The Police’s Roxanne earlier this summer was a premonition to my visit here. Contrary to what I was expecting, the RLD is more of a mini borough than a street or plaza. It’s surprisingly a rather clean area than a seedy back ally place I imagined it to be.
Vaute, our tour guide was a former worker in this field in South America. Over the course of the tour he informed us that while the Netherlands are very free and open on some areas, they’re not so open in others. So while prostitution is legal, you would never see a man working a window of the RLD, but “lady boys” (RLD term for transvestites) are accepted.
To help visualize the RLD imagine a really nice canal area with pretty boats and buildings. As residential areas line the street most of the front porch lights are on – and red. As you peruse the streets they are a random smattering of strip clubs, sex shops, and open windows with red beacons shining their services. In the windows are scantily clad women of all races and nationalities who are waiting for their next customer. Some are posing, some talking to the girl in the neighboring window and even some who are over it and just talking on the phone as people walk by.
From the tour we learned girls have to pay 90€ (about $117) a night per shift to have access to a window. Workers have to be at least 18 and customers at least 16 (fun fact the oldest worker right now is 84!!!!). The base pay is 50€ (roughly $65) and the longer the visit the more money. I could say more, but this is something you should see for yourself.
The area itself has a kindergarten and other family oriented locations. Reason being this is the safest area in Amsterdam. There are cameras every where and a steady police presence to make this a desirable location for some families.
All in all it was a very educational tour and the best thing about it is that there are safety measures in place and an aura of respect in this area for the district as this 800+ years area continues to flourish.