Lesbian nightlife in Amsterdam: an explorative study of the shift from ‘queer-only’ to ‘queer-friendly’ spaces

  • Marieke (A.H.) Ekenhorst Utrecht University
  • Irina van Aalst Utrecht University


This paper explains the decline of lesbian space in Amsterdam through a better understanding of young lesbians' lived experiences of in/exclusion in urban nightlife. The study is situated in Amsterdam, a city internationally known as a queer capital. In-depth interviews were conducted with young lesbian clubbers, owners of local lesbian bars, and organizers of lesbian-oriented parties. The results show that straight and queer spaces should be understood as fluid since the clientele has become a queer and non-queer blend after a shift towards an ‘inclusive’ and open-minded vibe. That shift goes hand in hand with the commodification of queer venues, which puts pressure on the few women-only spaces left. As the interviews revealed, a commodified open-minded, ‘inclusive’ venue or party is not necessarily a safe space for lesbian clubbers. The interviews also foregrounded the diversity among lesbian clubbers, which partially explains the widening range of venues and party concepts with a concomitant decline in visibility. This paper suggests some ways to create safe lesbian nightlife space, in light of the experiences of interviewed clubbers and information gathered from entrepreneurs within the scene.

Research Papers
Dec 31, 2019
How to Cite
Ekenhorst, M., & van Aalst, I. (2019). Lesbian nightlife in Amsterdam: an explorative study of the shift from ‘queer-only’ to ‘queer-friendly’ spaces. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 197(2), 200-214. https://doi.org/10.11143/fennia.83696