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Twentieth Anniversary Café the Queen’s Head

by Redaktie in Nightlife & Reports , 28 April 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
length: 4 minuten

This year, Café the Queen’s Head in Amsterdam will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary! The bar, famous worldwide and notorious for its weekly drag bingo, “Coby’s Cut Karaoke” and the drag show “Queens in Queen’s,” naturally will celebrate the occasion with all kinds of crazy events. We wonder how it all started.

Coby van Dam, the current bingo queen, had an animated conversation during a nice dinner with John, the “father” of the Queen’s Head.

JohnCoby: “John, cheers! Tell me, how did you get the idea to open a bar on the Zeedijk?”
John: “In 1998 the municipality and entrepreneurs on the Zeedijk had kick-started initiatives to get the neighborhood back on track after the impoverishment over the preceding decades, so there was a lot of growth and potential in the neighborhood. At the time, I had just sold my hotel, and a neighbor of mine had a son with a bar on the Zeedijk that did not run well. She asked me if I was interested in taking over.”

CobyCoby: “Such a coincidence! You had a look and were sold?”
John: “Yes! My then-partner Dusty did drag performances, and it seemed like a lot of fun to create a podium for those shows. The bar was perfect for that, not too large, not too small, and that view...”

Coby: “Yes, John, that view is the most beautiful view in the city! But tell me, Dusty continued her bingo show in the Queen’s Head?”
John: “Yes, indeed. We started with the drag bingo and other events and with great success. Dusty truly was the face of the bar, and during her shows it was equally busy and cosy. Special events, such as Queen’s Day, the Gay Pride and the Hartjesdagen were always pleasantly busy.”

Coby: “What was your secret?”Dusty
John: “We knew a lot of people in the scene, and Dusty had a lot of fans. When a national TV program paid attention to the Zeedijk, Dusty got a prominent role in the series. From that moment on, the flood gates were open. Everyone wanted to play a round of bingo.”

Coby: “So, a party each day. But why did you sell the bar again?”
John: “It was great fun for years, but also a lot of work. In 2002 Dusty needed a change, and in 2004 I decided to pass the baton.”

Coby: “Wasn’t it strange, passing on your own project?”
John: “Yes, but what was really nice was that all the owners after me actually wanted to continue the bar’s formula, with their own twist however. Our ‘baby’ was in good hands, and that’s why this bar is still my living room, the fun, the craziness is still there to be found. Even Dusty occasionally drops by to turns things upside down, so not much has changed.”
Coby: “Yes, in March Dusty was back on her old spot on the podium. We did the last Winter Queens together!”

Coby: “What is a big difference between then and now?”
John: “In general, I think the hospitality industry has become more bourgeois. Entrepreneurs now have to deal with so many rules and people have become more prim and proper. In the old days it was anything goes.”

Coby: “At my bingo, anything goes as well, John. Coming out of the closet, getting back into the closet, announce your divorce, make a proposal, sing a serenade, or just showing your cock. But enough about me. What has stayed the same?”
John: “The sociability and mix of people coming to the bar. After all these years, it is still a mix of regulars and tourists. The majority is still gay, but everyone is still welcome. The current owners are in the process of updating and refurbishing, but without changing the appearance of the bar. I’m very happy about that.”

Coby: “Can you give me a nice memory from your start-up time?”
John: “Above the bar lived auntie Trui, an elderly woman who was born on the Zeedijk. She hardly left the house because she had trouble walking, and all those steps were quite a challenge. As compensation for any inconvenience caused, I sometimes brought her a bottle of sweet white wine, which she was extremely happy with. She never complained, even though we did organize quite a lot of mega-crowded events in front of her door. These friendly contacts between the entrepreneurs and residents of the Zeedijk have always been there.”

Coby: “It’s indeed a nice street, John, also thanks to you! I presume we should reserve your bar stool for the big party on May 26th?”
John: “I’ll be there! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

The Queen’s Head Agenda

Every Tuesday: Bingo
Every first Friday of the month: Karaoke
Every last Saturday of the month: Queens in Queen’s drag show
Saturday, May 26: Twntieth anniversary of Café the Queen’s Head



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