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The leather and the infamous
The most famous name in Amsterdam leather (aside from the RoB chain of stores) is this highly sexed three-level bar with origins as early as 1953. Not the bastion of man-on-man leather abandon that it was in the 1970s and 80s, the Argos nevertheless remains a fixture of the scene, albeit with a higher quotient of textiles and casual footwear than at any time in its sordid history. The afore-mentioned RoB took over in 2010, transforming the rough (and very ready) basement into a more slickly decorated (designery?) but still functional darkroom space, with an unorthodox hint of blue sci-fi-like lighting. Since the late 1970s the main bar has certainly developed a patina, with cluttered surfaces, hanging lanterns and decades of a certain unwashedness all contributing to the unique Argos atmosphere. Several steep steps take you up to the second-half back area of the bar, which overlooks the canal (and the straight red light district) behind. For the record, the ever so convoluted and ancient history of the Argos name involves a hotel that doubled as a leather-friendly establishment, a New Jersey mafia man whose son was into leather, various shady but necessary moves dictated by local zoning laws, competition and nastiness — at one point there were three different Argos spaces (including Heintjes Hoeksteeg in a slight passageway off the Warmoesstraat) — and, perhaps most importantly, a barman named Kees Raadschelder, who came to the bar's rescue and in 1979 shifted the business to its current location. Raadschelder died in the early days of the AIDS era. These are tamer times, but you can still hear the sounds of struggle and pleasure coming from the basement. The Argos stages occasional FickstutenMarkt events, the first outside their native Deutschland. And every first Sunday of the month, from 3pm, the Argos stages ncAdam (Naked Club Amsterdam) —a four-hour naked-only safe sex party.