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Amsterdam nightlife

Haunted by its abiding reputation as the ultimate party town, Amsterdam still gets flooded on the weekends with visitors hoping to do some very fast living. And the fast life is easy enough to find: Although the city has initiated a concerted effort to clean up the illegal drug and sex trafficking in the Red Light District, the area is still crammed with jumpy little bars, women in windows, and euphemistically titled "coffee shops," where you can order from a menu of pot brownies, ganja cookies, and basic joints. But natives tend to avoid the area, which has become increasingly seedy, weedy, and sometimes violent. Instead, Amsterdammers head to the newly thriving entertainment complexes of the Eastern Docklands area, where Panama hits the operative high note as a dance club cum café cum performance space. The other epicenter of local nightlife is the Reguliersdwarsstraat, which is lined with thumping, old-school gay discos like Club Exit.

Amsterdam is a boho town, but its dedicated clubbers prefer grittier, backstreet venues, and the best insider nightspots don't sit in clusters. A prime example is the perennially hip, very mixed de Trut Sunday night dance party, held in the basement of an old squat in Amsterdam West. Another popular, stand-alone clubhouse is the Westergasfabriek, a converted gasworks in the Westerpark that houses both the Pacific Parc restaurant and bar and the cozier late-night Flex club, famous for its star lineup of European DJ's.

To track down the original Amsterdam party life, those pioneering places that started it all, head for one of the antique brown bars that pop up on every street corner in the Jordaan and around the Spui. At these cozy, old-world bars, many dating to the 18th century, the specialty is a potent jenever (Dutch gin) that can prove more mind-bending than any coffee-shop dope. Stay sober, though, and you can appreciate the real peak of Amsterdam nightlife: a concert at the Concertgebouw, where the acoustics are legendary and the busy calendar includes performances by both visiting ensembles and the stellar Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

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Westerpark and Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam

A late-19th-century Westergasfabriek (city gasworks) is enjoying a new lease on life as a "culture park" after extensive renovations in 2005. Its...more

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Reguliersdwarsstraat, Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the world's gay playgrounds—small wonder in the world's first nation to recognize same-sex marriages—and this street, steps from...more

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Panama, Amsterdam

Located in a former Port Authority building on the IJ, this entertainment complex is the safest bet if you only have one night out in Amsterdam. It's best known...more

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Odeon, Amsterdam

The former brewery dating from 1662 has seen a lot of history: President John Adams visited it, the Concertgebouw got its start here, and in the 20th century,...more

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Jimmy Woo, Amsterdam

Jimmy Woo's has a capacity of 600, but there's still always a line out front. The look is out of Once Upon a Time in America: Nobuyoshi Araki photos, opium...more

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De Badcuyp, Amsterdam

In this multi-culti capital, the Badcuyp is the city's leading world-music venue, proudly carrying the flags of many nations near the Albert Cuypmarkt. From the...more

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Results 1-6 of 6
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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