Warning – this blog post is not suitable for children under the age of 18
Curiosity made me do it.
We couldn’t go to Amsterdam without seeing what makes the District red. We’ve been to Vegas we’ve both seen R18 material, and visited Ann Summers, we felt grown-up enough to go to the Red Light District, and in particular the Casa Rossi – famous for it’s ahem, erotic, entertainment.
Being the sophisticated woman of the world that I am I took it all in my stride! I fastened my non-plussed smile to my face with a thick paste of journalistic cynicism, not letting on to my Englishman that I was uncertain.
Would it be horrible? Would it be seedy and sad and devastating to see young women used for their bodies? And, I’ll admit shamefacedly, there was more.
Would the girls put me to shame, physically?
Would their groomed svelte bodies turn my husband off me? Make him think that he’d been fobbed off with a tea trolley biscuit instead of the jammy dodgers on show? I know it’s a selfish thought, but even as I thought it I wondered whether other women were thinking that too. If there were other women there. Would there be?
Or would I be the only traitor to my gender?
After all, it’s not exactly a sound feminist activity watching women pander to the sexual appetites of men, performing for their delectation. But I also can’t rail against something I’ve never witnessed, and the street girls of Amsterdam have organised themselves into unions and report that their ‘work’ is a statement of their feminism and right to choose how they use/market their bodies.
No, I was going all underground reporter, propelled by that blasted curse – curiosity.
The same curiosity that saw me wandering around Thailand in the late 80s on my own with a backpack larger than myself. The same curiosity that saw me get mixed up in a fundamentalist cult during my teens, or leave my home and move 18,000 miles to the UK in my late thirties.
That curiosity hasn’t killed this cat.
So off we went, my Englishman and I, heading for the depths of Satan’s boudoir, the Red Light District of Amsterdam. As we walked arm in arm across the cobbles past the early Christmas lights and magnificent Dam Square towards the den of iniquity, the mood of the crowd became increasingly jocular, and the air thickened with the heavy sweetness of a thousand joints. Out for the night was life’s smorgasbord. Groups of young stag partygoers dressed in togas, hens with sparkley headbands, and curious middle aged couples stopping to review the exotic devices in the sex shop windows.
“Ooh where do you think you’d put that?”
“Would you polish it with shoe polish?”
“That looks a little painful” the middle-aged woman declared as she perused the nipple clamps in Danny’s fetish wear store.
The air was thick with weed and grease from the fast-food outlets, but the atmosphere was light. No sign of malnourished prostitutes, or gangs of pimps. Even the famous windows where the girls stood under their red lights, looked almost festive.
And that’s another thing. The girls weren’t naked! They weren’t even topless. In fact most of them were wearing more than the majority of the women on the beach in Tenerife! One girl in particular took a shine to my Englishman, and beckoned him forward with a crooked finger and a saucy smile. As she jiggled and wiggled I was overwhelmed by the weirdness that is another woman actively approaching my man for sex, in front of me. After wandering along the canal side reviewing the window girls, many of whom were fake-tanned and plastic-boobed and wearing luminous bikinis, we arrived at the infamous Casa Rossi.
It was early so the queue was short and before long we were being led into the darkened theatre. It was like an old vaudeville theatre and somehow the song ‘House of the Rising Sun’ started played on a loop through my mind. It was dark, but it was packed, and mostly quiet. Huge bouncers paced the aisles, offering drinks and keeping an eye out for trouble. And thankfully, I could see at least two other normal (and clothed!) women sitting in the audience with their partners. We didn’t spend long scanning the audience before our eyes were summoned to the stage where on a large red cushion a couple were ….
doing the fandango,
playing hide the sausage,
doing it as they do on the animal channel.
It was like watching a train crash. I looked. I couldn’t believe it. I looked again…I looked away. I HAD to look back again. Curiosity made me do it. We were close to the stage but the manuouvres were so choreographed they didn’t appear offensive at all. In fact their routines were less disturbingly erotic than some rock videos (yes I’m thinking about you – Christina Aguilera)with their hard-core themes of powerlessness, bondage and kink, that are widely available for general viewing on TV or Youtube. Despite reassurances that the couples were indeed real-life couples – some married, some in long term relationships – there didn’t seem to be anything private about their acts at all. Affectionate? Surprisingly yes. Even kissing and laughing. Dextrous? Absolutely. Kinky? No not really. It didn’t even feel as if we’d set up camp in another couple’s bedroom and were invading their privacy, rather that we were watching an erotic dance performed by highly skilled, extremely fit and hugely endowed performers!
And man, oh man, they were mountain men!
I was surprised that the show didn’t seem as ‘naughty’ as I expected. Is that because we have such a permissive society that soft porn is widely available and commonly viewed by men and women alike? There’s no doubt the world has changed since Amsterdam’s heyday when nudity was seen as extreme.
As we found our seats and ordered drinks the ‘backdrop changed to palm trees, and a beautiful Tahitian looking girl came out onto the stage, wearing a scarf for a ‘skirt’ and shaking maraccas to accompanying music – ‘Shake shake shake your body’. Last heard on an ancient episode of The Love Boat when they toured the Pacific (c1978).
She was astonishingly beautiful, and her head was held high as she shaked her hips in a sensual hula. There was not an ounce of self-consciousness or vulnerability in her demeanor. ‘Does your Dad know you do this?’ I asked her silently.
She carefully stepped down off the stage and started selecting ‘volunteers’ to come and assist her in her act. Ever closer she came to where we were sitting on the aisle (a position chosen for it’s quick excape route!) Her first victim was a black English guy who sheepishly made his way onto the stage as she continued scanning the room for another victim. The Russian guys in front of us were yowling like tomcats, and as she passed by, one of the drunks pawed her, desperate as he was to be chosen. She rounded on him and venomously hissed ‘Don’t touch me’ and then slammed the maraccas hard on his head.
So much for the girls being vulnerable and defenseless!
She continued down the aisle scanning for a suitable victim, someone who looked nice, well dressed, trustworthy. Her gaze travelled the room and then settled …
…right next to me.
There was no opportunity to say no.
There was no time to run.
There was no resistence, as she led him to the stage.
First up was the ‘brief’.
Both men, cowered by her adamant words as the tropical music bounced along. I was certain the words – kill, don’t, touch, my, you, pussy – were in the pep talk in one sequence or another. And then without warning she blithely snapped off her ‘skirt’ and grabbed some props for her routine.
Completely starkers she danced seductively around the stage, moving the men into position, grinding up against them for maximum impact. Her intoxicating confidence was a huge foil to the men’s rising embarrassment. In my seat in the audience I could feel the flush rising in my cheeks, as the dancer started peeling her prop.
Wielding it like a crooked baton, she laughingly beckoned him to come closer. Helpless, he stumbled forward towards her. As he did I couldn’t help but feel that this time curiosity had done it.
This wasn’t sexy. Or erotic. This was a killing.
Curiosity was the perp. The men, the victims.
It was a sexy Cluedo scene with Ms Tahitian Dancer in the bedroom with the banana.
My eyes widened as I looked to where she was gesturing. I looked down past her smile, past her voluptuous breasts, down past her round hips, to where she had hidden it.
I died laughing, and as I did, it could be said curiosity had finally, and decidedly killed this cat.
As for whether going to the Red Light District is an open-minded thing to do or not, I think that all depends on your own world view, but I couldn’t detect any exploitation or abuse. Given the opportunity would you go to the Red Light district?
Image: Flickr cc
Where: Casa Rossi (the red house), Amsterdam’s Red Light District
Costs: £35 each to get in and includes a couple of drinks. Drinks are very expensive inside so it’s cheaper to buy the all-inclusive ticket. And the girls receive a lollipop to take away – shaped like a penis.
Why: For the same reason you went to see the Cage Aux Follies, or that exotic show in Las Vegas. Some of the other erotic shows in the Red Light District are not very pleasant for women or couples to attend. I felt (relatively) comfortable at Casa Rossi, though at the first sign of trouble we were outa there.
Accommodation: We stayed in a wonderful apartment in Jordaan which we rented through the online rental acccommodation marketplace, Wimdu – who’s tag line is ‘travel like a local’. Highly recommended – great easy service, and high quality accommodation at an excellent price.