The night-life in Amsterdam is definitely worth experiencing. A huge array of pubs, bars and clubs can be found, just as in any city. Just like in any country with a smoking ban, the smoking rooms have become the hub of social interaction – anyone who sits in one for more than 5 minutes is sure to strike up a conversation with someone new. A while longer, and someone will pass around a spliff or two as well (these ones mixed with tobacco, so not soul-destroying like the coffee shop shit).
I ended up discussing sex with a local. I struggled to see her concept of being in love, but still sleeping around. She argued that relationships and sex were 2 completely different things. I asked her what was the point of being with someone if you’re just going to sleep around around anyway. She told me I was still young, and that when I got older I would understand better. I must still be young, because I still don’t understand.
I met some American soldiers on leave, obviously here to experience the pleasures offered by the city. They hadn’t touched marijuana, however, because the American military does random drug tests. If they got caught out then they would lose their careers, and these guys (or at least the one I talked to) were in it for the long haul.
I met an Irish couple who told me about the sex show they had been to earlier that day. They said it wasn’t really a turn-on, more kind of odd that someone next to them was having sex while they drank. Being from the ROI, their attitude was that it was all bollocks and people need to focus on having a good time.
I ended up talking to the girlfriend, Evy, while the boyfriend chatted to others. She had a very pretty face, and was wearing a short red skirt and a low cut black top. We talked about Ireland a lot, especially about how the Troubles were a load of “horseshit” to them. We eventually started talking about Irish Gypsies and I mentioned that I had Gypsy blood in me. My grandfather was apparently a Gypsy by the name of Patrick McDonagh (our family history is a little fuzzy on this, but that’s a whole different story).
Her face suddenly changed to one of both excited surprise and of shock. She raised her hand to her mouth. “You’re a McDonagh?” she asked. After I confirmed she tugged excitedly at her boyfriend’s shirt. “He’s a McDonagh, he’s a McDonagh!” Her boyfriend looked at me.
“Seriously?” he said. I nodded and he turned away laughing. I asked her what was so special about being a McDonagh.
Apparently McDonagh is a gypsy name, and this tribe is infamous for their bare-knuckle boxing. She suggested that I don’t want to go around Ireland that I’m a McDonagh. I’ve met several Irishmen since, and have had various reactions to my name (one did ask me not to blow anything up). Although, funnily enough, when I actually went to Dublin later on in life (again, another story) no-one made a fuss about my name at all.
Eventually a couple of girls joined the group; one Dutch, and one an American who now lived in Amsterdam; and since it was getting close to midnight we all decided to go to a night club together. The club was a typical city dance club – over-the-top decoration, bottled beers, cocktails and shots flying over the bar and several people drunkenly dancing the night away. We partied for a while, and inevitably ended up in the smoking area again.
The smoking area in this place was an unfurnished room with a large man in a suit stood emotionless at the door. He moved only to eject a few troublemakers who had had too much. We sat on the floor passing a spliff around as we talked. We chatted about the marijuana laws in the country, how each person was allowed one plant, how it’s not technically legal to smoke, but it’s allowed, how Dutch weed is better than English or American weed, and the many various flavours of weed available. Eventually I asked the American girl why she moved to Amsterdam.
She broke off into this speech about how she had really found herself here, how she felt so free to do as she chooses and be herself. She grabbed the hand of the Dutch girl she was with as she said she had met a special person who meant the world to her. She said that she was in love with the city, it’s people and able to finally accept and love herself. I couldn’t help but smile at such a passionate speech, one that I am really not doing justice here.
Then she noticed the spliff in her hand and said “Oh, and you can smoke weed!”