The Drugs, The Tiny Hineys And Getting Past The Doormen
With cafes, pubs, clubs, bars and hemp hangouts. Amsterdam is a PubClubber’s fantasy come to life.
And come to life it does. Cafes start serving drinks at lunch and after-hours parties go on until noon. There are so many pubs and clubs, one could cover much of Europe in the time it would take to visit all the drinking establishments in this city.
Hemp and pot are as prevalent as beer and the Red Light District is a trip through, well, it’s just a trip.
All that being said, one just doesn’t roll into Amsterdam and start rolling ’em up, so to speak. You’ve got to know the rules – few as they may seem to be – or you’ll be squashed as if you were hit by one of those trams that blast through the city.
This is an introduction to Amsterdam nightlife with links to information on nightclubs bars, pubs clubs, brown cafes and hemp hangouts.
Amsterdam’s Top Party Tips – Pot & Drugs
• Pot, hash, poppers and “space cake” (pot in brownies) are consumed in designated areas, mainly the coffee shops. You don’t walk down the streets of Amsterdam seeing people stoned out of their minds looking as if they just spent three months at a Grateful Dead concert. You may see that in the coffee shops and some of the parks, but not everywhere in town.
• Soft drugs or okay but the hard stuff will get you in trouble. The Dutch are very tolerant of a lot of things, but not at all of hard drug use.
• Coffee shops are among the most boring bars in the world. If you’re expecting to go have a rockin’ time at one of the pot places, you’ll be disappointed. These are not lively bars; most of the people are sitting quiety in a chair or couch against the way. Think about it; they are stoned!
Amsterdam’s Top Party Tips – The Bars
• Amsterdam’s two main party areas are the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtsplein. These are squares that in most Euopean cities would be filled with shops, a few cafes and America’s great contribution to world culture, a McDonald’s or a Subway. Not so in Amsterdam; there are tons of bars in these squares! As a general rule, but certainly not exclusively, the Leidseplein has a bit of a younger crowd (mainly 20s) and the Rembrandtsplein gets 30+ partiers.
• Most of the bars and pubs are small and narrow, yet each has a unique personality and crowd all its own. They go strong until 3 a.m.
• The clubs are massive, holding anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people. They don’t open until midnight but stay open until 6 a.m.
• Most places deal in cash, so have plenty of Euros on hand. You’re going to need them, especially in the clubs
• Amsterdam rocks virtually every night of the week, although it slows down to catch its breath on Mondays and Tuesdays
Getting Into Amsterdam’s Bars & Clubs
In Amsterdam, it’s not the cost of the drinks or even the admission to the clubs (both of which we can empty a wallet quicker than pickpocket in Centraal Station) that poses a problem, but the confounding door policy at the pubs and clubs. It is not uncommon to approach a place, be it empty or packed, and be turned away by the words “private club” from an unconcerned doorman.
The best strategy is to become the doorman’s buddy. This is accomplished by arriving a bit early on your first night in town, say before 10 p.m. Stop in for a drink or two and on your way out, tip your new best pal 1 or 2 Euros. Do this at several places. It’s a local’s move and it will gain you VIP treatment when you return later in the evening.
Clubs requires another trick. Start in a pub and ask a local about current door policy at different clubs (it’s also a good ice-breaker with the regulars, anyway). Enforcement is spotty, often changing on different nights of the week. Offer to buy a local a drink if they will escort you into one of the clubs.
About Those Small Beers…
The Dutch serve their brews in small 10-ounce glasses with a precisely-measured ounce of foam (2-3 euros at pubs, more at clubs). Little more than a shot glass to an Aussie or a Texan, these “tiny Heineys” would seem to offer little resistance to heavy drinkers. Yet with so many bars to visit, they make it easy to be mobile and the cumulative effect they have over the course of an evening can indeed be quite intoxicating.
When those tiny Heineys start to overflow your system, nature will call you to the WC (toilet). Many are staffed by a women who keeps the WCs clean. To use the restroom it will cost between 0.2 and 0.5 euros. In the pubs, drop change in the container by the door on the way out; anything less or nothing at all will label you as cheap.