Amsterdam. The city famous for its red light district. However, one lane over, and you are in the blue light district – the gay section. Picture it – Summer of 2002. I was wrapping up a three month run in a production of “Singin’ in the Rain” at a theatre in Western Canada. Just the chorus, nothing to get excited about. I decided that I was long overdue to have a Summer (or at least three weeks) in Europe. (My last time in Europe was at age 16 as an exchange student in France. This time, I would be seeing and experiencing it through adult lenses). Being the slut that I am, I was going to hit two of the biggest gay meccas Europe had to offer – Amsterdam and Berlin. From the tour guides that I read, it seemed that every bar in those two cities had backrooms, and I intended to get to know each one. So I packed my sexiest clothes, my leather, and those tour guides, and flew across the Atlantic.
In Amsterdam, I had booked a bed and breakfast, The Golden Bear (men only). I was staying on the top floor, and like you see only in Europe, I had to ascend up the narrowest staircase I had ever seen. After freshening up, I headed out on to the street to get acclimatized to my new neighbourhood, where I would be staying for a week. I found a quaint cafe nearby and had dinner on the patio. Next to me sat a gentleman of Arab descent, and seeing the tour guide in my hand, asked me where I was travelling from. He himself was a student in London and said that every now and again he took the short flight to Amsterdam to have a good time. Did he have any advice on where to have a good time? I asked. He pointed across the street at a bath house, saying he’d had many a good time there. And so I thought about it: I was really keen to hit the blue light district’s bars and backrooms and dungeons, but evening was upon me. I hadn’t yet figured out how to get to the blue light district, and so, even though a bath house wasn’t new for me, it seemed right for tonight, at least, to stay close to the B&B. I thanked my first of many angels on this trip for his advice and excitedly went back to the B&B to get ready.
As I headed to the bathhouse, I felt like Dorothy in Oz, and I knew that this was the beginning of some type of sexual adventure. Who would I meet, both tonight but also throughout this European vacation? What would happen? Would it all be sunshine and lollipops, or was trouble lurking? There is no walk longer than the walk to a bath house. You are filled with a mixture of excitement, embarrassment, dread, and again excitement. By time you reach the door, you are often whacked out with panic and a racing heart. If I can just get myself through the door, I’ll be ok, you tell yourself. And once you’re in the door, you feel as if you’ve reached Everest. And to reference Oz again, I felt like the cowardly lion approaching the door to the bathhouse. I had come to Europe to experience sexual freedom. Was I going to abandon that goal due to nerves and just visit museums? No. (Well, I did visit the torture museum, so there).
Once safely inside the bathhouse, I noticed that it was A-1 quality – modern and big, with at least three levels. But unlike any bathhouse I’d been to before, there were no rooms to rent, just lockers. I soon understood why. Instead of rooms, there were loads of cabins, with beds that didn’t have sheets, just vinyl coverings. The cabins had no ceilings, and the walls were so low that by standing on the bed, you could look directly into your neighbour’s cabin and watch them – an exhibitionist’s paradise! This worked for me, but I wondered about those for whom privacy is a must while having sex. I assumed that those folks would just not choose to frequent this particular establishment.
After showering and cruising a bit, I met a guy named Marco – a cute blond Italian who had once been to my home city in Canada. And into a cabin we went. A great guy, Marco and I talked as much as we had sex. I topped him, using a condom. He came, but I didn’t. I wasn’t ready for the night to end – I wanted more. Marco seemed disappointed that I didn’t come with him, and I had a hard time explaining that I wanted to stay longer. I still wasn’t owning up to my sluttiness and couldn’t just be forthright and say I wanted to cruise around some more. We left the cabin, said our goodbyes, and I showered and carried on.
I headed into the movie theatre, and upon entering, encountered a hot guy with dark, curly locks. When he saw me, our eyes met and he straightened up, and I knew he was the one. I sat near him, with just one theatre seat between us, and had one eye on the porn playing on the screen, and him in my peripheral vision. Ladies and Gentlemen, what comes next is an age-old mating ritual between two men at a bathhouse. It goes like this: I inch my foot casually closer in his direction, so casual that it’s almost imperceptible. Then he does the same. That is my cue to move my foot a bit closer to his. And he does the same. Finally our feet touch. Then what? Well, someone has to do something. And what he did was get up and leave. I instinctually followed, and hoping he would, he turned back to check if I was following. Wordlessly, he lead me to a cabin and in we went.
I found this Dutchman incredibly gorgeous, and his soft, curly dark locks in my hands made me crazy. We rolled around on the bed, kissing, touching, exploring. And then he turned me onto my stomach and got on top of me. He began to thrust, but it was simulated fucking – he never entered me. Really, he just rubbed his cock against my ass. After we both eventually came, we lay there and talked, stroking each other all the while. I decided that I loved Amsterdam.
However, do you recall that I said the walls of these cabins were so short that people could watch what you were doing? Since I was on my stomach with my Dutchman grinding against my ass, I hadn’t noticed that we had a silent audience. Nor did I realize that Marco was a part of the audience. The trouble with exhibitionism comes when you can’t control who’s doing the watching. The Dutchman and I left the cabin, and there was a naked man sitting by the door of the neighbouring cabin, and he looked at me as I passed and said “you should use protection”. Dumbfounded, I carried on, only to be accosted by Marco, who grabbed my arm and berated me for fucking him and then apparently having unprotected sex with someone else, saying that he’d have never allowed me to fuck him if he’d known I have unsafe sex. I said that he had it wrong, I hadn’t been fucked, it just looked like that. But he was having none of it and stormed off.
I was due to meet the curly-haired Dutchman on the street to get his phone number, so showered again, dressed and left the bathhouse. Once on the street, still reeling from Marco and his accusation, I took the Dutchman’s business card. “Do you really want me to call you at work? Wouldn’t it be best if I called you at home?” I asked. But no, I couldn’t call him at home – because his boyfriend might answer.
I went back up the street to the B&B and instantly threw the Dutchman’s business card in the trash. Was my whole trip destined to be full of this melodrama? Would this fun frolic through Europe devolve into something negative and difficult?
Three weeks later, after touring Europe, I was back in Amsterdam, just for a night, to catch my return flight back to Canada. Terribly heartsick over a guy I had met in Berlin, I wandered to a bar for one last taste of European nightlife before I had to say goodbye to the Continent. And there, at the bar, was the Dutchman, standing with whom I assumed was the boyfriend. The Dutchman and I awkwardly exchanged hellos and goodbyes. With a plane to catch in the morning, I didn’t stick around to hear him explain me to the boyfriend.