This may sound insane but one of the most intriguing experiences of my life is going through the red light district in Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. If you’re wondering what sort of place a red light district is, it is basically a district in any city designated by the government for “commercial sex workers” to legally go about their business and earn a living. This way, the state creates a safe, organised and highly regulated environment for them to go about their work.

Taking pictures in the red light district (RLD) is strictly forbidden and security agents are present for enforcement, therefore i’ll do my best to describe what I saw….

At the RLD in the medieval city centre of De Wallen in Amsterdam, there are blocks of narrow buildings like a any normal neighbourhood in Amsterdam with surrounding dams, lined with old school bars, the only difference; there’s full glass doors in many apartments in the district and around the glass door, is a thin strip of red neon light as a marker. When I first got to the RLD at about 5pm, I wondered why there were many rooms/apartments with full glass doors and later that night I understood why.

From around 7:30-8:00pm roughly, women in all shapes, sizes and color start to pop up on the windows or doors, dressed as seductively as possible to get attention and you notice that behind the door is a well lit room, small but furnished to their taste with a bed and anything else they need.

There were lots of tourists, probably a few thousand; men, women, young, old, families, students you name it, just walking around non-stop. We all moved around in squares, circles, through narrow walls and alleys in lines and rows like a herd of cows going for the slaughter just to catch a glimpse of the half-naked women. As we moved like sheep, I could feel the anticipation in the air as we passed through door after door, window after window. I watched as heads turned in unison like a puppet master controlled all of us.

From time to time, a man, woman or a couple giving in to temptation, will leave the sheep pack and with a knock on the glass door of their choosing, the lady behind the door would let them in and draw the curtains for “work” to begin. Some say it costs 50 Euros for 15mins of action, others say it costs more or less depending on what you want.

It wasn’t just the women in the RLD that I found fascinating, it was the general vibe of sin, pleasure and raw human desire which filled the air. There were also streets with “coffee shops” (weed shops), magic mushroom shops, porn theatres, live sex shows, sex shops, tourists high on god-knows-what, shouting, drinking, loud laughter, you name it.

I heard that the ladies of the red light district have to rent the apartment or rooms for a monthly contract and the apartments that are located in the booming areas with the most tourists, cost more to rent. The RLD is generally very safe and just requires general tourist safety precautions.

After walking round and around for about an hour or more, I had enough. As I left the Red Light District, I couldn’t stop thinking about these women viewed by thousands of people daily like merchandise. I also thought about what people of various religions around the world would think of this place. For me it was one of the crazier places i’ve seen and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

PS: The information provided on this page is based solely on my personal experiences and should not be considered as legal advice. Five foot nomad is not liable for any misrepresentation or misinterpretation of any and all posts on its website.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels