Ramping up for Amsterdam’s Gay Pride this year, I went down to Club Nyx in the Reguliersdwarsstraat in Spring for a shoot. Lady Galore, founder of Drag Queens United, organised a Lip dub Video shoot that brought together over fifty fem queens, Butch girls, bears, trans, leather boys, drag queens, twinks, jocks and bi’s from all corners of the Benelux.
For those of you that haven’t been to Nyx, it’s a two-floor booze barn as we’d call it in Australia, and self-described as as ’named after the Greek goddess of the night, and successor of gay disco Exit’. Imagine lots of black paint, dark corners, sticky floors, and disco balls then you have a pretty clear picture of what it’s like.
Since the Club needed to open that night, I joined Marcus Koppen there to get set up in the morning so we could shoot all day. We were able to commandeer one of the downstairs bars for our own purposes, thanks largely to Marcus’ superior negotiation skills, so that we could transform the space into two photo studios facing into one another, on opposite walls.
This was one of those days in mid-Spring that was a brief glimpse of Summer and as we finished setting up, the club was already beginning to warm up. Throw in another 50+ bodies all in close proximity and it felt more like a nightclub in Thailand than anywhere in Europe. People were drinking beer just to stay cool.
One of the comments I had overheard was a nostalgic observation of the many memories the club holds within its walls. That immediately triggered a thought process where I began to think of identity and safe places for the LGBT community. Being Amsterdam, I was reminded of a very different type of safe place: an Amsterdam red light window.
This series of photographs are my first glimpses of the Amsterdam LGBT community and through that red light sanctuary, they intensify that position of a voyeur, as an outsider looking in. The women I photographed represent a full spectrum of experiences and personalities, from those that have dressed in drag for the first time, to the seasoned club veterans. The camera is able to strip these women bare, to look past the glamour to reveal more of who they truly are.
I've placed them an entirely new context, which carries with it everything Amsterdam’s red lights represent, but equally, I wanted to give my subjects the freedom to explore their own secret ambitions and desires as if they were a Cinderella of De Wallen for one night.