Tchaikovsky started his professional life as a civil servant, then went to study music at the St Petersburg Conservatory, and subsequently became a teacher at the same conservatory. By the summer of 1867 he had already written his first piano pieces and had them published.
It is hard to imagine that Amsterdam had over sixty gay bars, clubs, hotels and restaurant in the past, nearly all with regulars. There was something for everyone. And the special thing was that the owner of the establishment usually bore the stamp of his or her personality. Often, for instance, you did not go to the Argos but to Kees or Paul of the Eagle, or Cor of The Lord, to name a few.
Usually, cleaning up is something people like to postpone. Old forgotten stuff in an overcrowded closet or attic has to make room, and usually can be thrown out. That is also true here, but this time it led to a nice surprise. Hundreds of old black and white negatives from Amsterdam in the 1980s and 1990s.
Amsterdam is proud of her status as city where gays and lesbians can be free. Although homosexuality remained a taboo till well into the fifties, Holland had decriminalized it at the start of the nineteenth century. It might not have been socially accepted at all but at least it had ceased to be a criminal act. Holland was also one of the first nations to make the age of consent equal for gays and straights.
Mr.B “All of a sudden people realized that this large gay community in the Warmoesstraat was also having sex”
This year Mr.B is celebrating its fifteenth year in business. A good occasion to ask owner Willem Bos what his reasons were to start his shop - next to another famous business like RoB - and he tells us about his successes and disappointments over the years in Amsterdam.
Fifteen years ago the Amsterdam gay scene was in shock. Aids had hit the city hard and many people saw each other more regularly at funerals than in a bar. The leather scene especially was affected badly. Why did you decide to start a business in such difficult times?
If you want to travel far for little money, go for the dollar. New York is getting cheaper and cheaper to shop in but also a holiday in the Caribbean will set you back less than ever. It’s already quite normal to hop over to New York for a shopping weekend. The weakening dollar makes holidaying in the States very attractive. A trip to Aruba, Barbados, Mexico or Venezuela has also become very affordable. Most of these states have linked their currency to the dollar. The Antillean guilder has dipped with the dollar in spite of its Dutch name.
A city that graces both sides of a legendary river, crossed by a succession of regal bridges. At night, the lights on the monuments and bridges gleam in the dark like jewels. Grand, tree-lined boulevards and neoclassical buildings from the 19th century. Neighborhoods with winding, narrow, cobblestone streets from medieval times. Antique-filled flea markets, fascinating book stores, inviting cafés with strong coffee and sweet confections, museums and concerts to delight the eye and ear. Budapest offers the sophisticated traveler the familiarity of European culture with a tantalizingly distinctive Hungarian flavor.
Cave paintings from the Val Camonica region of Italy depict sex between men dating back over eight thousand years. And - we can say - since then, Italy has always been a perfect spot for gay tourists from all over the world. In ancient times, Homosexual relationships were common among Roman citizens, particularly between masters and slaves or teachers and pupils, just like in Greek culture. Then, in the Renaissance, some very important gay people have drawn public attention on the homosexual behaviour: we can remember Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Pontormo, Caravaggio, and other immortal artists who were definitely in love with other men.
With Amtrak from Chicago to San Francisco is probably the best train trip in the United States. You travel through the country of the Amish community, through the endless farmlands of the Midwest, along powerful rivers like the Colorado, through deep canyons and straight across the impressive Rocky Mountains, which is the absolute highlight of the trip. The world famous train “California Zephyr” is taking you from Chicago to San Francisco.
After several years of decline and closure of well-known premises, Amsterdam seems to get back on its feet. We recently saw the opening of Prik at the Spuistraat and since the 7th of April we’ve gained another place at the infamous Zeedijk: De Engel van Amsterdam (Amsterdam’s Angel). At the day of the opening things looked really good and everything went well (it was a gorgeous day which helped). One of the bar’s main attractions is the terrace.
Many will be filled with memories when one mentions Rob’s Leather in Amsterdam. Rob’s Leather was the shop you had to frequent if you wanted to be part of the Amsterdam leather scene. The boys paraded around in the Argos or the Eagle, proudly showing off the RoB logo on chaps and jackets. You didn’t just buy something from Rob’s Leather; it was a total experience. Many will have personal memories of the man who made Rob’s Leather what it is: Rob Meijer
The Amsterdam gay universe shook once again on its foundations. The cause: the Canal Parade taking to our canals in August. In its early years the floating spectacle even created a little stir but nowadays many a local simply shrugs his shoulders. Only our local television station AT5 thinks it’s great stuff and sends out all their students on work practice.
As predicted, the Socialist Party (SP) and Groenlinks (Green party) have declined and the formation of a new government is now focusing on a combination of CDA (Christian Democrats), PvdA (Labor) and Christen Unie (Christian Union). Looking at the speed and the solid style of the process we can even expect a new government at the end of February, with Balkenende as prime minister and, hardly a surprise, Bos as vice prime minister. It’s rather incredible though, that so soon such an important promise from the election campaign is broken.
Many people heaved a sigh of relief after the elections. The weeks of one-liners and reactions to the delusions of the day were finally over again. Now we’ve come to the absolute opposite: spokespersons and diplomats trying to form a government construct complicated long sentences that don’t actually reveal anything, pure gibberish. Don’t disturb a chook sitting on an egg. The Hague is scrambling to get itself together because the voters have made an unparalleled mess.
When the Trash parties stopped a couple of years ago a tsunami of disbelief and astonishment washed over gay Europe. How was it possible that a party so popular and loved with thousands and thousands of fans in Europe and elsewhere simply ceased to exist? The organizers admitted it had been a terribly difficult decision but that there were simply no suitable venues left in Amsterdam.
The organization of the Jordaan Festival wanted to block the Homomonument again by putting a stage and tents right in front of the granite structure at the water and seriously risks being awarded for least respectful organization of Amsterdam... This could be distilled from the drawings in their application for an event license.
Last year the gay community responded with outrage when they saw the new layout of the festival which is held at the Homomonument on the Westermarkt.
To my astonishment somebody told me that restaurant Getto in the Warmoesstraat has been there for ten years already. Oh my God, ten years, time sure flies! This is of course a fact to celebrate. And there’s a lot to celebrate indeed. The boys and girls from the Getto succeed in offering more than just a meal and a drink. Over and over they find ways to entertain and pamper their customers: great music, performances and, of course, good food for a good price.
Two men or two women can get married in the Netherlands since April 2001. The law came into effect on the 1st of April 2001. Technically you can’t speak of a gay marriage, since Holland has no special law for gay marriages. We chose to open up the existing marriage laws (until then only applying to a man and a woman) for people of the same gender. So the actual law from the 21st of December 2000 consisted of a revision of an existing one.
On the eve of the city council elections, we visited two Amsterdam candidates who have really put their necks out and as a result came under a constant barrage of criticism. Whether or not the criticism, which consistently came from the GBA (Gay Business Amsterdam), was deserved or not, and which often concerned only one point in a whole program, such as the Amsterdam nightlife (Anne Lize van der Stoel) or Jelle Houtsma, who has been accused of only being interested in placing plaques on the City Hall. We asked ourselves: What has been achieved? Why vote for a candidate who is “out of the closet”? And what can we expect for the coming four years?
“Whoever knows history, knows the future,” people say. Hence this look over the shoulder to the past year of 2005. What were the issues on the gay movement’s mind, and: what did we learn from the past? Read and decide for yourself what you think of what was news last year.
The year started off great: a Lebanese professor claimed in an interview on TV that “certain indecent activities” were to blame for the disastrous tsunami of 2004 that hit several Asian countries.
A question we’ve probably all asked ourselves at one point: What exactly is an erection? With an erection we mean the process of blood filling up the pockets in the penis so that it becomes stiff and it becomes possible to have intercourse. This is achieved by closing off the vein that transports blood out of the penis. The word erection literally means straightening or pointing upwards. When a man can’t get an erection, or not a full one, so the penis doesn’t become stiff enough to penetrate successfully, we call that impotence.
The Risks Of Recording Personal Data In Electronic Files
The process of perfecting registration, checks and observation by the government is proceeding with small steps. Big changes all at once are met with resistance. It’s crucial that new changes seem logical and limited follow-ups of previous measures. The arguments seem reasonable - you can’t really oppose it: battle corruption, crime, drug dealing, fraud, and terrorism.
Who doesn’t know the Cockring club in Amsterdam? Positioned in the famous Warmoesstraat, in the center of the hot neighborhood and with the Amsterdam leather scene as its neighbors. But the Cockring has always had its own style in this old neighborhood, where sex and fun have ruled for hundreds of years already. The visitors of the Cockring consist of a mix of trendy clubbers and leather men.
The Amsterdam bar The Web hadn’t been that full for ages. Reason: the presentation of the Gay Consumers’ Association (HomoConsumentenbond or HoCoBo in Dutch) and their survey of “sex spots” in Amsterdam. All the (straight) press had gathered at the bar that they otherwise would steer clear from, cause it has a darkroom. Maybe that’s why they had mostly sent women reporters.
Job Cohen: "People have to learn to demand the right to be the way you want to be"
It has been two years ago already that we had a talk with the Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen. He finished that interview by expressing his wish that the Gay Games would come back to Amsterdam. Because of the fantastic atmosphere and the great success of last time. No one could’ve predicted that through only a few dramatic incidents in Amsterdam the liberal and tolerant character could change so much. Mayor Cohen got a lot of criticism that he wasn’t on the ball enough. The people expect law and order and the effects of measures are not always immediately noticeable.
Zandvoort has always been Amsterdam’s large swimming pool. Pale city boys go there every now and then to get some healthy breaths of sea-air. In the old days there was a special tram, nowadays we just take the train or if there’s no other way, the car. But the reputation of Zandvoort is waning lately. You really can’t take the car anymore because that’s apparently what everyone else is already doing. And then the direct train connection disappeared. Now you had to change trains in Haarlem, so everyone had to lug their beach gear from one platform to another. Fortunately N.S. (Dutch Railways) is going to reinstall the direct connection this summer.
Chris Crain was not the first and will not be the last gay man to be spat at, yelled at and beaten up in what once was the “Gay Capital” of Europe. About the rise of the Islam and the impotence or refusal of the authorities to protect the citizens of Amsterdam.
Chris Crain was walking hand in hand with his lover on the Leidsestraat last Queen’s Day when he was attacked and beaten up by a group of seven “Moroccan looking” boys who yelled: “fucking fags”. He reported the incident to the police who decided not to publicize it, as “it was not grave enough.” Or was the case too sensitive for them? They miscalculated however, as the victim is editor-in-chief of The Washington Blade, an influential gay magazine in the States. He publicized his Amsterdam experience himself. Gay publications all over the world, as well as the mainstream media picked it up quickly. Which is not surprising.
As flying away on holiday becomes cheaper we’re travelling more often and further beyond our borders. And last minute bookings are also attractive. As planes must always be fully booked often the last seats go for a song. The advantages are all ours. Or so it seems, but what we rarely contemplate are the necessary vaccinations we need against sicknesses we’re unfamiliar with here in Holland but are, in distant tropical lands, life threatening. Many a man returns from vacation to find himself at his doctor with a variety of symptoms that could’ve easily been avoided had he taken the time to be vaccinated against sicknesses prevalent in other lands.
The Amsterdam RAI expected at least twenty-five thousand visitors at the Rainbow Experience from 23rd till the 25th of April 2005. The Rainbow Experience wanted to be the exuberant center of the European gay community: a trend setting and innovative target group with usually a lot of money to spend. It was with this attitude that the fair opened its doors. The outcome was clear on the second day already as hardly anyone had been prepared to travel to the RAI. The exuberant center as a silent space. How could this happen?
The Greatest Chopin Performer of the Twentieth Century
Since his death in 1982, at the age of 95, the musical and personal reputation of Arthur Rubinstein has been revalued. Such posthumous new views are perhaps the inescapable result of an almost universal popularity, but in spite of all the attempts to de-mythologize him, for many Rubinstein remains the greatest Chopin player of the last century. When Rubinstein started to program Chopin around 1900, many critics found his renditions too dry, too objective, and too precise without poetic emotion. Busoni, Hofmann, and later Rachmaninov received similar reviews.
For some reason piano players attain almost mythical reputations around their personality more easily than other musicians. In recent years, many of those legendary ivory ticklers have died: Rubinstein, Horowitz (who’s extra-light-touch grand piano now travels the world alone), Wilhelm Kempf, Rudolf Serkin, Claudio Arrau en Jorge Bolet, to name but a few. Shura Cherkasky inherited Horowitz’s title as “last romantic” but almost an entire generation has gone extinct.
On the 27th of January it was sixty years ago that the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. What they found there defied all description. This is how Dante must have envisioned his Inferno. In the past sixty years Auschwitz has become the ultimate image of the horror of the Second World War. But... according to a lot of people there's something wrong. Auschwitz generally stands for the persecution and extermination of the Jews while there were also Roma/Sinti and gays who were transported and gassed there.
So the center of Amsterdam will get a gay museum after all. There's been a lot of talk and speculation about it and it was a motion of the PvdA that brought the concept all of a sudden much closer. After Berlin, London and San Francisco, it's finally the turn of the city that has been calling itself the “Gay Capital of Europe.” A motion on the housing of the International Gay and Lesbian Information Center and Archive (IHLIA) and an exhibition space annex Homomuseum was accepted by the council of the city center of Amsterdam. The museum will get a central and prominent spot in the city.
Who knows the past knows the future. But there’s nothing we forget so easily as the past, so we invent the future again and again. We learn less and less from the past but we do try. Maybe we will learn after all from the bad and good things of 2004.
In January people really realize how expensive going out has become. More and more people start to avoid bars and restaurants because of the, in their opinion, high prices of food and drinks. For a couple of businesses there will be no other option than to close up shop. Gay Holland discovers that you also can have a swell time at home.
Without knowing it, PC users are being watched. Marketing companies place all kinds of spy software on computers without permission and without the internet user knowing it. This spyware will exactly monitor your computing behavior, such as the sites you’ve visited, the things you’ve done there and the products you’ve bought. But that ain’t all; also your privacy is at stake. Currently there are programs which will reveal more information about you and which have been installed into your computer without you being aware.
Almost unceasingly you'll hear the comment, that there isn’t much to do nowadays; and especially that it used to be so much better and much more fun in the past. With in the past, one indicates the period of ten to fifteen years ago, when Amsterdam was still a vibrant city, where everything was possible and allowed. While we’re talking about fifteen years ago, the name Manfred Langer can’t be ignored. He was a hot item for the newspapers and the television, because of his lifestyle, but especially for making Amsterdam famous. It seemed like everything he touched turned into a success.
Cruising, just ask your friends and acquaintances and you’ll get the same explanation: to chat up, looking for a sex partner, etc. It seems like it’s all known, however, as it is for everybody: you’ll have to learn it, and there are more and more youngsters nowadays who don’t know (yet) how to chat up. The knack of chatting up is not to be taught by reading; however we can put down the possibilities and especially line up the risks. Over the last years there has developed - next to the traditional park, the dark room or the sauna - also the phenomena of online chatting and there are other possibilities for sexual contacts now. Is it really that great? What are the difficulties? We have lined up some possibilities for sex in the outdoors.
Adulated because of his brilliant workmanship, reviled because of his smashing "ego", his former membership of the Nazi Party, his jet-set life and for his strive to capture all his qualities as conductor and director in his own way by the use of the latest audio and visual technics: Herbert von Karajan (1905-1989).
Since the dollar has become this cheap, a trip to California is for many at a top position on their wish list. To do something completely differently instead of the worn out holidays to France, Spain or, even worse, Ibiza. California, also known as "the Golden State", is about twelve hours flying from Amsterdam. There’s no bothering about connecting flight, because there are nonstop flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. How and what kind of booking you make, is for you to decide.
With the selection of Amsterdam as host city for the Gay Games 1998, the gay businesses decided it was time for an institution which already exists in many other gay metropolises, a Gay Business Association (GBA). Unfortunately they selected Siep de Haan as their secretary who is not himself the owner of a gay business, but a teacher of mathematics. However, he has a big mouth and knows how to organize things.
How the Amsterdam Tourist Board (formally and nationally known as VVV) completely fails when it comes to providing gay information, which is completely free available in large amounts; but instead they provide gay tourists with a map which costs two euros which contains no gay information at all, and next to this they also act up as moralists. Here is the sad story of two tourists who were looking for gay information in Amsterdam.
“Egypt, a gift from the Nile” was the way the Greek classic historian Herodotus described the mysterious land of Pharaohs and pyramids. The Nile was and still is the lifeline of Egypt. It can bring prosperity or famine. The yearly flood covers the land with fruitful Nile-silt. The Nile also destined the life of the ancient Egyptians; they studied and analysed the river.
A couple of days ago, the news reached us: Cor the owner of the worldwide known bar ‘Gaiety’ had sold the place. Together we looked back at more then 17 years of Gaiety.
The address Amstel 14 was already well known years before Gaiety opened its doors. Between 1963 until 1983 it was known as ‘Moors Eldorado’ in those days the bar had no windows, outside you would only see the name in neon lights. Inside the bar was decorated with pink imitation leather, loads of electric chandeliers with fake crystal, in Dutch we used to call these bars “bonbon-boxes”
You don’t see places like that anymore.
Unsollicited Commercial Email (UCE). Spam. Food with no nutritional value whatsoever. E-mail these days consists of no less than 41% spam. And expectations for 2004 are that spam quota will outnumber normal e-mail by far. 85% of spam receivers don’t want to receive this junk mail. Unfortunately spam is for free. Sending a couple of million spam mails might still land you a couple of hundred customers. An easy way to make an easy buck. The receiver pays for this unwanted e-mail, by way of your subscription, your telephone bill or your provider.
You don’t get it from insect bites, toiletseats, travelling in overstuffed buses or trains and not from drinking from the same cup. More than twenty years have passed since the first rumours about that new, weird gay disease started spreading. What has happened since then, how are we coping and will "they" find a cure for HIV in the near future?
Not that long ago computer virusses were disasters only happening to others. Till the momemt your own windows starts acting funny and much too often shows a blue screen or doesn't start at all. Trouble in paradise.