「What’s Amsterdam like?」 is an irregular series of articles introducing LGBTQ+-related topics and events that are based on local interviews conducted in Amsterdam. Incidentally, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, which was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage – something worth remembering.
In our fourth edition, we visit Robbert, owner of the café and bar BRUG34. He says he had a special feeling when he moved his shop to Utrechtstraat earlier this year, where many people – from locals to tourists – pass by.
――BRUG34 is a hotspot along the canal where anyone can gather without any restraint.
I used to operate my shop in a different location, but I moved here at the beginning of this year. I actually live just around the corner from here, and one day I suddenly realised how attractive this place was [laughs].
It’s hard to find a location that faces a busy shopping street like the Utrechtstraat but overlooks a great canal. I thought I could fulfil my dream of creating a place where people outside the LGBTQ+ community could enjoy themselves together as well.
Most restaurants belonging to the LGBTQ+ community typically open between 4-5pm. So there are really few places that are open during the day. But I wanted to create a space with diversity without being bound by the norm in terms of time and place. So, we open as a café during the day and as a bar in the evening.
If people like the shop itself, more people might visit it at any time of the day. If that happens, there will be more moments of a diverse range of people coming together in one space, won’t there?
Most of our staff are LGBTQ+ parties. We don’t have a recruitment policy, but many of the people who come for interviews are also LGBTQ+ people. I think they apply because it’s a safe place where they can be themselves.
Apart from running the shop, I also try to be active in the organization ‘Pink’, which supports Amsterdam’s nightlife and discusses how the LGBTQ+ related food and beverage industry can be improved. Furthermore, I am also involved in PRIDE AMSTERDAM. For example, this meeting room where I am currently being interviewed is also used as a rental space; it is rented out for free to groups belonging to the LGBTQ+ community.
The morning is the best time to visit BRUG34 if you have the opportunity to come. The continental breakfast is both an enjoyable experience and a memorable part of the trip for tourists. If you do not like getting up in the morning, you can come here for a bitterballen or croquettes at lunchtime.
On weekend evenings, this place is packed with people but if you’re lucky I can show you the best terrace in Amsterdam. So, if you would like a drink, I’d be happy for you to stop by.
Eh? I’ve been with Dirk for 19 years and you’re asking me why I’m not getting married with him? That’s a sudden question (laughs). There’s no reason, we’re in a country where being together without marriage is an option.
Interview and text/HAGA Takashi
Interpreter/Kuwabara Karin (Saw Communications)
Cooperation/ The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan, Dutch Culture
Article produced by/ newTOKYO
※This interview was conducted as part of a visitors program organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan.