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Amsterdam red-light district showcases leather, lace and striking colors

By Katy Bell

As if I really need another reason to relocate to the humane and liberated Amsterdam, I find that our Santa Claus' Dutch counterpart, Sinterklaas, spends a leisurely three weeks gifting the Netherlands during the holiday season.

Beginning in mid-November, you put your shoes near the fireplace with a list of all your capitalist wishes. The next morning you wake to find your shoes filled with tiny gifts! After two-plus weeks of taking orders, Sint, dressed like a bishop--well, he was a bishop in Turkey in the 17th century--fills the big gift orders on the eve of his birthday. In the early hours of Dec. 6, the doorbell rings and a sack of loot sits on your front porch. Plus you get a few hours off school or work to play with your toys. Great!

After the gift-giving of the season comes the partying. Needless to say, the Dutch are gluttons for fashion as much as they are for presents. This winter Amsterdam's streets are filled with fluorescently topped heads--hair dye in extreme green and bright orange, not to mention giant afro wigs.

And, of course, trainers in all colors and textures are on everyone's feet.

At night, in the region of red lights and hash fogs, people mainly wear leather and latex to the clubs. The notorious "Club It" has reopened and is infamous for its flamboyant, exhibitionist crowd. Women dress provocatively in tiny leather bikini tops, see-through tops and slim-leg pants.

A Dutch treat quickly catching on in San Francisco is leather cuffs and sleeves. Other clubs that are exclusively men or women have hard-core dress codes that must be adhered to for entree.

There are a number of clubs that host theme nights, not unlike those in major U.S. cities. The underground revival scene often uses the '70s as a theme. These parties are mainly visited by an older crowd who were teenaged in the '70s. Their reclamation isn't coming cheap either. Hollanders are forking out a lot of money to dress in authentic disco style. If you decide to spend your New Year's Eve in Amsterdam, check out www.amsterdamhotspots.nl.

In the meantime you can achieve the same Flemish fashion by checking out Stormy Leather or Leather Etc. Both carry the wares that good club kids wish Sinter would leave on their doorstep .

Stormy Leather, 1158 Howard St., 416.626.1672
Leather Etc., 1201 Folsom St., 415.864.7558

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From the December 20, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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