No strip club will top the one I went to in Amsterdam.

No strip club will top the one I went to in Amsterdam.

During my junior year of college, I did a study abroad program at Oxford. Andrea was doing a study abroad program in London. We got to see each other more often that semester than in the prior two years. For my twenty-first birthday, my parents gifted me with a trip. Andrea and I decided to go to Amsterdam. My friend Kate, one of my roommates in the program, came with us.

Kate and I flew out on Thursday night after class. Andrea met us on Friday morning, as she missed her flight the night before. We stayed in a sketchy hotel above a pub in the Red Light district. We would’ve gotten completely lost if Kate hadn’t figured out the tram schedule and helped us navigate map of the city.

After enjoying the sights, food, and coffee shops, we wandered the Red Light district. We surveyed the theaters where live sex shows were performed, but decided against going to one. Instead, we paid a five euro cover and stepped into a strip club. (Neither Kate nor I had ever been to one.)

This strip club was nothing like what I’d seen in movies. It was a cramped, dingy dive bar called La Vie En Proost. Men who sat on barstools in front of the bar bought lap dances from voluptuous women wearing g-strings. The bartender served beers and well drinks, immune to the patrons’ stares — she wore a long-sleeved leather jumpsuit that had holes cut out in the chest, fully exposing her breasts.

We clung to the wall opposite the bar. Andrea sipped her beer as we watched the women’s performances. A guy spun around on his barstool. He leaned back, rested his head on the bar, and laid a ten euro note on his face. The stripper squatted over his face and picked up the ten euro note with her vagina.

“Did that just happen…?” Kate’s eyes widened in horror.

“Where did it go…?” I asked.

The bartender gestured to Andrea.

“American girl — you forgot your change.”

“You can keep it!” Andrea shook her head vehemently, then whispered loudly to us, “Don’t touch the money!”

Platform 9 3/4


Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station. London, United Kingdom. 01.25.09.

After enduring the disappointment of never
receiving a Hogwarts acceptance letter at age eleven,
a decade later, I traveled across the pond
to find that magic existed in
the King’s Cross tube station.