The aspect I found most interesting in Amsterdam was the juxtaposition between historic culture and drug culture. To me it felt a city a lot like Venice, but much wilder. I went to opposite extremes from visiting the Anne Frank house in the day to seeing a live Sex Show at night.
During the day we went for a bike ride, visited windmills, and cheese and clog factories. We walked along the pretty canal full of gondolas and boats peacefully drifting along. When the sun set, we were off to De Wallen, the largest Red Light District.
In Amsterdam, a shop labeled as a “coffee shop,” is not exactly your traditional coffee shop. It’s what you would expect, plus a few minor illegal substances. Well, illegal to most North Americans, that is. There are menus scattered everywhere with hundreds of different varieties of marijuana and forms of consuming it.
When in Rome!
Right? Except in Amsterdam.
We strolled along the streets before meeting up with the rest of the group for the Sex Show. Standing outside in line, just about to enter our X-rated entertainment for the evening, a few of us tried to wrap our head’s around what we were actually about to witness. Our guide insisted it was a must-see while in Amsterdam and “all part of experiencing the culture.”
The natural assumption was that it would be just like a porn movie, only live, in person. So maybe it would resemble a play, maybe? But within the walls of this dark, dingy theatre, I realized this was very different. This was a shared experience with strangers – not particularly pleasant strangers at that. And, while I am no prude, the whole thing was not particularly an enthralling experience by any means.
About 50 people were seated in the rows facing the stage. There were a few couples, a small group of women and one man sitting alone in the corner, with an overcoat probably at least three sizes too big.
I didn’t look in his direction again.
Onstage, the couple went through their choreographed routine, almost robotic as they switched positions with utmost efficiency.
Fifteen seconds here, then change.
Fifteen second there, then change.
A few instances though, the guy would do this weird leg thing like he was attempting some sort of rhythmic gymnastics.
As they did this, I looked at the woman’s face. It appeared at first glance as though she may be enjoying all this, but I didn’t buy it. She was acting. Is this where you wanted to be? I asked her in my head. Where you thought your life would end up? Do you enjoy being watched? Or is this a means to an end? I’ll never know. But I will always wonder. And I’ll always know that I contributed to the industry when I shelled out the 30 Euro admission fee.
I gathered my surroundings and noticed that me and my travel buddies were slobbering all over the penis-shaped suckers we were given at the door. I stopped being so analytical and just sat there mindless, watching absentmindedly.
Eventually, the couple we had been watching was followed by a succession of women performing various acts that can’t really be described in any detail – needless to say; I’ve never really looked at fruit salad the same way again.