01 Jul How to spread your rainbow wings in Amsterdam – Part II: bars & clubs

Reguliersdwarsstraat street sign. Image: Tom Hendriks

Hey you! Are you an LGBTQ student (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer) who wants to spread those wings to explore this vast rainbow-coloured universe called Amsterdam? Let me be your guide! In a series of blogposts, I’ll show you the best bars, clubs, parties, events and other places that are full of LGBTQ people. Last time I told you about the Amsterdamse Studentenverening Gay. Now, I’ll take you on a tour along the best bars and clubs! No more problems finding the best places to spend your free time – whether it’s an afternoon drink or a wild dancing night! Ready to go?


The famous Reguliersdwarsstraat is unrecognisable in the morning. Image: Tom Hendriks

Reguliersdwarsstraat in the morning. Image: Tom Hendriks

Are you an LGBTQ student who just wants to have a good night out with young, like-minded people? Then I highly recommend our main gay street Reguliersdwarsstraat, often referred to as Reguliersdwars, or simply Reguliers. This street connects Rembrandtplein to Koningsplein, but the western part houses most of the nice bars. My personal top 3:

  • SoHo. Whether you just want a beer on whatever day or dance the night away, SoHo will never disappoint you. You will find this two-floor vintage-style bar at number 36, open daily. In weekends, SoHo’s dance nights attract a lot of popular music loving guests.
  • NYX. More of a club kid? Like to dance between extravagant guys and beautiful hipster girls? Club NYX at number 42 is your spot. You will have to queue and pay to get in, but three greatly adorned floors of music are yours – including the best lavatory you have ever seen. NYX often has a refreshing number of straight people inside.
  • Exit. Right next to Club NYX, you will find that one bar everyone hates to love: Exit Après Chique, or simply Exit. This small, cosy, après-ski styled bar remains open till dawn, when everything else has closed. Apart from top 40 and that typical clubbing music you just cannot resist, Exit’s DJs will spin your guiltiest pleasures. You will go crazy. Guaranteed.
Interior of Club NYX. This characteristic A-shaped supporting structure tops the larger dance floor of the club.

Interior of Club NYX. Image: Tom Hendriks

Maybe those options are a little too mainstream or male-oriented for you? There is much more! Be sure to check out these highlights:

  • De Trut (Bilderdijkstraat 165E). This non-commercial “dyke and faggot disco” is one of the most special places in Amsterdam. De Trut is only open on Sundays, attracting women, men and everyone in between, of all stripes and ages. Both turned-on phones and cameras are not allowed, to create more gezelligheid and a safe haven. Not convinced yet? Booze is CHEAP, just sayin’. One more tip: be sure to get in line around 21:15 – you will see why.
  • ‘t Mandje (Zeedijk 63). Founded back in 1927 by the famous lesbian woman Bet van Beeren, this bar is seen as the oldest gay bar in the Nederlands. Café ’t Mandje is exactly what you expect from and old Amsterdam bar. Every little ornament has its story, and as the bar is still in the family, these people are more than happy to tell you all about “aunt Bet”. A must-visit!
  • Vivelavie (Amstelstraat 7) and Saarein (Elandsstraat 119). Now that the nice female-oriented Café Bordó has closed its doors, it has got a bit harder to find nice alternatives for the girls – but they’re still standing! Close to Rembrandtplein, we have Bar Vivelavie, and in the cosy Jordaan area, there’s an alternative called Café Saarein. Apart from these nice bars, there are many great recurrent parties aimed towards girls who like girls – I will talk about those in the next part of this series!
  • Kalinka (Reguliersdwarsstraat 125). Last year, the first transgender club of the Netherlands has arisen: Club Kalinka (outdated website). Oriented at the transgender community, welcome to all open-minded people.
  • Church (Kerkstraat 52). Suppose you’re just a little curious about cruising, dark rooms and fetishes, but not really that hard core (unless you’re into that!). Then you should go to church! Club Church, that is – one of the few cruising clubs that sometimes makes a connection to the outside world. Be sure to go on a Thursday – when all genders and sexualities are welcome and there’s no specific kinky theme.
  • Amstel & Zeedijk streets. Just like Reguliers, the Amstel and Zeedijk street host a lot of fun gay bars. You’ve already been introduced to Amstel Fifty-Four in the previous post and ‘t Mandje in this one, but there’s much more around the corner that you should surely visit. I hear much about Bar CHEZ these days, located at Amstel 50.

Got an image? Still quite overwhelming, right? Don’t worry, just visit the bars and clubs you think you like most. Even I haven’t even seen all of the bars from the inside myself! Also, this list is only a glimpse. Your favourite places might lie elsewhere – and of course, you will need to find your own way. If you miss something on this list, do leave a comment! Next time, I’ll talk about regular parties and events. If you have tips concerning those, leave me a comment as well!

Although Amsterdam (and the Netherlands in general) is known as one of the most tolerant places in the world, LGBTQ-related incidents still happen a lot. If you are ever involved in such an incident:


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highly illogical logician in progress / passionate singer with reverb addiction / fanatic dancer to commercial crap / quasi-hipster in fashion expression / involuntary master of meta-dreams / amazingly all-round exact scientist / self-crowned prince of creativity
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