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Red-light district in Amsterdam city picturesque landscape panorama evening town with pink sunset sky. Bridge over canal river Amstel.

There are actually several Red Light Districts within Amsterdam. They pretty much have the same rules. However, we are going to focus on the de Wallen here. This is the oldest Red Light District, the most centrally located, and the largest. If you head to Amsterdam, then this is where you need to be!

The History of the Red Light District in Amsterdam

de Wallen has played host to prostitutes for a good few centuries now. However, a lot of it was kept on the ‘down low’. It was completely illegal. However, the location of de Wallen made it easy to get customers for the prostitutes that did work there. This meant that when prostitution was legalized in 1811, de Wallen was the first place to see a boost from the profession.

In 1911, there was an effort to change up the way in which prostitution works. This meant that brothels and pimps were disallowed. It also ruled out the idea of sex workers on the street. This meant that people needed to change up the way in which they offered their services. This resulted in the modern Red Light District. The city designated certain buildings for sex work. This work could ONLY be carried out in these buildings, nowhere else in the city.

These buildings would be split up into separate rooms known as cabins. These are exceedingly small rooms. One person could own several cabins, much in the same way a brothel works, although the owner cannot profit from the sex work. At the start of the day, the owner of these cabins would rent out the rooms for the prostitutes. It could be quite a substantial fee, and it does mean that prostitutes change where they are quite often based on availability.

The reason why prostitutes in the Red Light District operate behind windows is because they are not allowed to offer their services on the streets. However, by operating behind windows, they do not need to be on the street. Obviously, they can show off their bodies, but because they are technically indoors, they aren’t breaking the law!

What do the Red Lights mean?

The Red Lights mean that the woman that is in that window is willing to sell her services. If the Red Light is off, it means she has either gone home, or somebody is using her at that moment in time. So, if you do have a preferred woman, she may not always be there. Do bear in mind that a lot of these women do cycle through the windows too, so you may not always find the same women there. Sometimes you will have a couple sharing the rent on a cabin.

If you see a purple light, then this means that the person working there is transgender. In recent years, a lot of transgender people have headed to the same area. This means that all of the trannys will be centrally located. However, there are some that you will find between the various other women, so do keep an eye out for that if it isn’t your thing.

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The Rules of the Red Light District

The main rule for the Red Light District is that you do not, under any circumstances, record any of the women that are working in the Red Light District. This is partly why tours are not longer able to run in the district. Too many people were taking photographs or videos of the women, and this was putting them at risk. If you are caught taking videos or photos, then you will be punished. The police will either remove you from the area, or the woman you were recording will come and throw a lot of water over you. Let’s be honest, both are not the best experience in the world!#

You should also not stare at the women. We know that many of them are kicking around in their bra and panties trying to entice people in. However, this is their job. They aren’t a side show. If you are staring at them, then it is going to make them feel uncomfortable. It may also prevent actual customers from getting closer. So, by all means shop around for your women in the Red Light District, but don’t just stand there gawping at these women. They aren’t going to appreciate it.

If you do want to hire a woman in the Red Light District, then approach the window. Do bear in mind that these workers have the right to refuse you. If they do not open the door, then do not get aggressive with them. Some of the women are incredibly picky about who they choose to do business with, and thus you may be rejected. They have the right to do this. If they do decide to open the door, however, then you can start to talk about the services that they offer.

Generally speaking, the women in the area have agreed to charge at least 50 Euros for 15-minutes of work. You will not find wom0en that are cheaper than this. However, you will find women that work here that charge a lot more than this. Remember; all of the women that work in the Red Light District work freelance. This means that they are free to set their own prices. When you are talking to the women, you are free to say whatever you want to buy from them, but most are not going to deviate from the price that they have set for their services. To do this would cheapen themselves.

If you do make a deal with a woman, then she will invite you into her cabin. The curtain will be closed and the red light switch will be turned off. You can then do whatever the two of you agreed.

Remember; the Red Light District is a very public area. This means that people will be able to see you go into the various rooms and talking to women. You may be recorded too (yep, some people are going to break the rules). If you are not comfortable with this, then you probably shouldn’t be in the Red Light District in the first place. However, do bear in mind that nobody is really going to judge you when you do all of this. They know what people come to the Red Light District for. In fact, many of them are probably going to be after exactly the same thing.

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Is the Red Light District safe?

Honestly, this is probably the safest place in all of Amsterdam. The Dutch do a fantastic job at ensuring that their sex workers are kept nice and safe. You will find that there are a lot of policemen walking around the area. Sure, there may be a few difficulties every now and then, but there will always be police close by that can iron out the problem. Obviously, it also means that you are going to be actively watched, so if you do break any of the rules that we listed above, then you may get arrested.

Are Street Workers Legal?

No. In the Netherlands, it is illegal to sell sex services on the street. Yes. There are sex workers operating in the area, but this doesn’t mean that you can go up to them and try and buy their services. If you are caught, then the both of you will be given quite a substantial fine.

The Number of Active Window Workers

The main red light district in Amsterdam (i.e. the one in the center of the city. There are around 300 active window workers in the Red Light District. Well, there are 300 windows. Not all of them are going to be fully ‘staffed’ at all times, and a few of them may play host to several different prostitutes. However, 300 is a pretty good number. This goes to show just how massive the sex industry is in this rather small area. Do bear in mind that these windows are only for the main Red Light District. There are other places throughout Amsterdam.

It is worth noting that the number of active windows in the Red Light District will never, ever change. The number is fixed. In fact, the number is fixed throughout the entirety of the Netherlands.

When do the active window workers work?

Technically, the window workers in the Red Light District are able to work whenever they want. The only exception is that they are unable to work between the hours of 6am and 8am. The windows must be closed at this time.

However, the vast majority of sex workers in the Red Light District are not going to be available any time before 11pm. At that point, they will work for a few hours before heading home. You must remember that for many people that work in the Red Light District, this is not going to be their full-time job. This means that they can’t work 24/7.

How much does the average sex worker earn?

This depends. Some women are easily clearing 1000 Euros a night. Some women are around the 500 Euro mark. Anything less than 300 Euros is not a good night at all. This goes to show just how many people are actually heading into the Red Light District. If 300 women are able to get over a few hours of business each night, it means that there are a lot of people here.

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Other things to do visit in the Red Light District

You would be forgiven for thinking that the Red Light District in Amsterdam is all about prostitution. Obviously, this is one of the main reasons why people head to the Red Light District, but that isn’t all the area has to offer.

As we mentioned before; this is one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam, which means the architecture here is sublime. It is fantastic to explore the older parts of the city. Granted, when you have sexy women strutting their stuff at the windows of the area, you probably won’t be looking at the architecture, but give it a bash. You will be surprised at how fantastic the place looks.

Obviously, outside of prostitution, the bulk of what you can do in the Red Light District is tied to adult entertainment in some way or another. After all, when you have a captive audience, you probably want to capitalize upon that This means sex clubs, sex shops, pubs, strip clubs, and the famed cafes that sell cannabis. There is a LOT to do here…although, it probably isn’t for children.

It is worth noting that there used to be tours through the Red Light District. However, these are now 100% banned. If anybody is operating a tour in the area, then they are operating illegally and they must be avoided. This is to help protect the women in the area. Pretty much the only way you can learn about the Red Light District nowadays is through websites like this one, although the Amsterdam tourist board likely has some information if you want to find out more about the history of the area.

Nowadays, if you aren’t there to sleep with women that are hanging around in the Red Light District, then it is probably best to go here to hang out in one of the clubs, pubs, or cannabis cafes. Beyond that, there isn’t a crazy amount to do.

Conclusion

We know that it can be a little bit intimidating to visit the Red Light District at the start. We promise you that nearly everybody who has ever gone there has felt a tinge of nervousness. However, remember that pretty much everybody there is for the same reason. Nobody is going to judge you here. Hell, they probably want to get laid just as much as you want to get laid. As we said before; just follow the rules for the district and you should be fine You won’t standout at all.

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