The orgies have gone, but bingo night still draws the crowds: how the Spijker bar has defied the decline of the city’s gay scene
“There’s not a single place I haven’t had sex,” reminisces LGBT campaigner and former porn actor Gerrit-Jan Wielinga, 47, showing me around Amsterdam’s oldest gay bar, the Spijker, which turns 40 this year. From 2000 to 2005 he worked as a bartender here: a place where lifelong friendships were made and sex and cheap beer were on tap.
Since those days, the Spijker has hardly changed. The small, dimly lit bruin cafė, with its blacked-out windows, red lights and erotic art, still has its vintage pool table at the back and an open fire. Spijker’s trademark twin TVs behind the bar – one showing porn, and one with cartoons (today it’s Snow White) – have been there since the 80s. Punters would sometimes do a double take, Wielinga remembers, when they recognised him in the onscreen action.