chapter
Amsterdam
Pages 4

All the while, a gay and lesbian bar culture was slowly developing, but it was fervently persecuted by the police. Gay bars were the targets of raids both before and during World War II. Although the German occupiers did introduce their antihomosexual legislation in the Netherlands, they undertook little to enforce it. The few Dutch gays to be prosecuted under this law had had sexual relations with German soldiers. Soon after the war, a significant subculture of bars and dance halls unfolded in Amsterdam. Lesbians played a key role in this expanding subculture, often acting as bartenders. The most celebrated example was the butch dyke Bet van Beeren of ’t Mandje, a bar frequented by gay men, lesbians, sailors, and prostitutes. The DOK, the largest gay dance hall in the world at its inception in 1952, brought Amsterdam world fame. The first leather bar, Argos, in the 1950s and the first gay sauna in the 1960s bolstered Amsterdam’s reputation as it became an important travel destination gay British and French men.