Where girls meet (up)

By Julia van den Muijsenberg

“Girl!! So great to see you,” A brown haired girl and a girl in checkered blouse just entered through the heavy curtains covering the door. The girl in the blouse is immediately welcomed by some others. They raise their beers and make some small talk. “And this must be…” says one of them, eyeballing secretively. After some awkward laughs the welcomes committee disappears to the lower floor, the room with the pool table. It is crowded all people sitting in their own group, laughing and chatting. The two girls who have just entered find one free table in the back of the café. “What do you want to drink, Leffe right?” the girl in the blouse nods and raises her eyebrows, as if to say “of course, the usual.” From the outside the windows glow with a warm red light. Bright pink garlands decorate the old wooden interior. A sticker next to the door reads: Hate to Discriminate.

The rainbow flags in every corner are not the only indication that this is a women bar. Tourist flyers that say ‘your gay way to the city’ and posters promoting feminist beer. Yes, that exists. ‘gebrouwen door vrouwen’translated to ‘brewed by women’ is one of the favorite brands in Saarein. Café Saarein, the oldest still exciting women bar in Amsterdam, though it now says to be ‘open to all queer minded’ people.

A gay bar is a must if you are a LGBTer and want to meet likeminded people. Because when you live in the marge, it can be hard to find a good match at the Leidse square or any other mainstream bar strip. A gay bar, the place to meet new people. Or so it was… Because with all the dating apps available, is it still needed to go out there and flirt? It gives you the same advantage: just select ‘women interested in women’ and you will meet like-minded people. Do the dating apps influence the old women bar? Is it still the place were girls meet girls?

New research shows that dating apps are insanely popular in the LGBT-community. 80% of the respondents concludes that the apps are of positive influence for the community. One of the given reasons is that it makes it easier to get in contact with a more diverse group of people, people outside of the known bubble. Whereas heterosexuals often seem to complain, because ‘why don’t you just meet someone in real life’, the gay community thrives because of the easily accessible apps.

“You know directly if someone is interested or not. Otherwise you have to guess which can be scary,” Marlous, a tinder fan, explains. “You get turned down all the time when you walk up to someone in real life.” It makes sense. Only about 10 percent of the world population considers him or herself gay. ‘Meeting in real life’ is not that easy.

On one of the tables a group of six women gathered. Laughing and making jokes in German. One of them is wearing a sweater vest ‘Women Kung Fu’ it says in colourful letters on the back. “We know each other from martial arts in Frankfurt, I took the whole bunch to this place.” The woman with a scarf rapped around her hair says, her name is Marijke. Marijke used to study in Amsterdam in 2006. “This was my favorite hangout so I had to show them!” She explains she always liked the loose, open atmosphere. “When I walked in, I was so glad it still felt the same! The rest of the city changed quite a bit, with the Nutella shops and all but this feels like 13 years ago” Though retro scenery didn’t change much, the motives for visiting sure did. “now it seems like people are all sitting in groups around the table with friends. In my days…” she shyly laughs “we were looking around, standing at the pool table, pretending to play pool, but actually looking to meet someone new… it was the perfect place for that.”

The bar gets quitter the full tables get empty. The two girls moved away from the back leaving empty glasses of ‘the usual’. Through the heavy curtains covering the door, they disappear in the night, together, just like they came in.