‘Just a little tiny bit more hot milk dear’, she asks while handing over her half empty cup. The foam and coffee shake inside. Each time she orders her 1,5 shot cappuccino, extra hot, there’s something just not right. I never contradict her. She is the kind of customer who would not come back if you refuse to grant her wishes.
The oldest women of the Spuistraat
Emma is 85 and comes every other day for her special cappuccino together with her sister in law Karin who is 79 years old. They live right above some of the Spuistraat windows and as elderly women do, they talk a lot.
The two widows know all the personalities in the area. All the regulars who live near or visit the Spuistraat part of the Red Light District often. The two have a good view of who lurk, roam and enter the doors that go with the windows from their 1st and 2nd floor apartments in one of the adjacent streets.
While the sky darkens, the waterfall-like showers outside keep the two in my shop and everyone else off the street. It’s just us three discussing the latest.
‘Bad for business, not just for you my dear’, she uses her cup to wave in the direction of Dana’s window. The red velvet window curtains are either closed because there’s nobody inside working or open with hopeful lady eyes that scan the streets. Hoping the rain eventually stops and customers pour in instead.
A man, mid 40 dressed from head to toe in a rain suit, squeezes his front tire between a few other bikes. In one motion he locks it and takes four steps to enter Dana’s room. His bike has a pink child’s seat on his steering wheel.
‘Maybe he is divorced’ I try, knowing what all three of us think. ‘Do not kid yourself sweetheart, all men go inside. Married ones especially.’ My eyebrow rises before I respond. ‘Bad experience?’ I wink. ‘Ignorance is bliss, but I do know I have seen them all go inside. Old, young, rich, poor, student, yuppie, handsome, ugly, famous and not. Even couples now and then. And most on this side of De Wallen are not tourists. They are Dutch men and locals.’
100.000 weekly visits to the Red Light District ladies
‘Do not forget the simple mathematics here: 400 windows in Amsterdam where 2 to 3 ladies have their daily shifts with each around 10-15 customers a day. At least. How many times a week can one man pay for their services? So 2.5 x 6 thousand men, 7 days a week. The tourists alone do not cover that.’
Karin adds: ‘And that is just windows, there are also prostitutes on the online internet or illegal street prostitutes in most cities.’ Her finger pedantically pointing in my direction.
‘The funny thing is, whenever you ask any man if they visit the prostitutes, they will all answer with a no. I that were true, how can these ladies stay in business then?’