It's one of the most famous things about Amsterdam is the Red Light District. Learn more about this popular place.
Some say the color red makes us hungry. Others believe it incites panic, because of its relationship to blood and fire. But its most common use is to symbolize passion. Perhaps that's why red is the color used to light the streets of areas where prostitution and sex work is legal and controlled by the government.
These red light districts exist in South Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, Germany, Belgium, Austria, among others. Yet the most notorious are the ones found in Amsterdam: De Wallen, Singel, and Pijp. They are frequented by tourists who visit this city, known for its liberal mindset and legal drug sale.
Passing by these places is just another stop for those who come to discover the city. Within those crimson-lit roads, there are hundreds of women and men willing to have sex for a considerable price. But before heading over to engage in some carnal adventure, here are a few things to keep in mind.
You can take a tour
To learn more about district laws and guidelines in Amsterdam, there are numerous tours that provide useful information. You’ll be able to ask questions, and there will surely be someone who can answer them in your native language. These tours even offer tips on how to communicate with sex workers to improve the experience.
Former sex workers can be your guides
Some of the aforementioned tours can be done alongside veteran sex workers, who will share their stories and experiences while showing different places to the tourists. Many claim that these workers are pretty open, animated, and even make jokes, providing this tour a different perspective. Rather than uncomfortable, it becomes a closer look into the community.
No STI testing
If we choose to solicit these services, we are entirely responsible for protecting ourselves from any kind of Sexually Transmitted Infection. Sex workers have no obligation to get tested, and each works under their own set of rules. Some might require the use of a condom while others might not. While each person engages under their own risk, it’s not recommended to have unprotected sex in red-light districts.
Sex workers can refuse service
If we’re too insistent or rude, if we don’t accept the rules, or if the sex worker is simply not attracted to us, we can be rejected at any moment. Given the hundreds of people walking by each day, sex workers can have the luxury to ignore our payment for a better offer. Manners and respect can work in our favor, but it’s no guarantee.
Window girls have shelf lives
A tragic story told around these streets is that there are less and less windows for girls to offer their services. The high cost of rent has made it harder for them to maintain their lifestyle. Some choose to become escorts, while others retire a year or two after they stop earning as much as they used to. It used to be something all of them could do, but now it’s turned into a selective process to choose who can promote through the window.
Law enforcement is tough
Since sex work is a legal and high risk job, workers tend to have a panic button on-hand in case of danger or a violent client. The response time is under a minute, since red-light districts have a higher number of police force nearby. The same applies to health issues or injuries. Medical support will be on-scene very soon. It’s not as sketchy as it seems.
Streets for different tastes
There are several neighborhoods within Amsterdam’s red light districts. Each has sex workers depending on the clients’ preferences. There are particular places for Dutch, African, Asian, etc. If visitors are inclined for anything specific, they’ll be sure to find it. It’s all part of an unspoken understanding between the locals and aims at making it easier for tourists.
There’s something that invites us to visit Amsterdam’s red light districts. Maybe it’s all because of the legends we’ve heard. Perhaps it’s our own fascination with the forbidden. Or it could just be a genuine interest to experience a sexual encounter with sex workers or the different services they offer.
Some tourists go to the area simply to look at the lights reflected on the road and each wall nearby. Even the color might have certain warmth that makes us feel confident to walk down those places that seem far away from the real world.
Translated by María Suárez