Just recently Argos opened its doors again. A few new features: a larger cruising area and an outside area for during summer. The bar also has extended opening hours. The renovation marks a new era in the history of Amsterdam’s oldest leather bar.
The Argos acquired already international fame in the fifties of the last century, first as a guesthouse, later as a bar for men with a passion for leather, motorcycles and masculinity. Originally the space was a kitchen of Hotel Tiemersma at 22 Warmoesstraat, where Sako Jan Tiemersma and Anton Johan Kennedy received friends for a drink and a game of cards.
The nights with Jan and Ton at the kitchen table became so popular that the gentlemen decided to turn their tobacco store into a guesthouse for gay men who were into a rough image and rough sex. It was 1957 and soon the Argos Guesthouse was the most favorite place to stay for leathered from all over Europe. The basement with its little dark cabins was undoubtedly an important factor from the start. A little later, when they took some walls down, they created Europe’s very first darkroom.
The success of the Argos Guesthouse inspired the owners to open a second establishment, a bar, in 1965. This was in the Heintje Hoekssteeg, just off Warmoesstraat. The bar was private, bare and very small, so visitors often stood pressed together. The benches in the back were very popular but not without risk. Instead of a bottle you could end up with a cock at your lips; not all punters could be bothered going all the way to the toilet... The Argos soon had the reputation of being dirty, dark and horny, some people even claim it was a dangerous place.
The fire department closed the Argos Guesthouse in 1977 and the building was sold. Not much later one of the barmen took over the Argos Bar in the Heintje Hoekssteeg: Kees Raadschelders. In 1979 he bought the building at 95 Warmoesstraat and decided to move the bar there. Over the decades that followed the bar has seen many cultural and economic changes. The dress code was toned-down for example, although fetish wear is still much appreciated, and the bar is less often the scene for intense full-on S&M sessions. But the Argos remains a monument to the international leather scene, ranking number one on the to-do-list of any leather man visiting the city.
The renovation, which had been in the planning from the start of the close cooperation with RoB in 2010, is now completely done. The original character of the bar remains unchanged but with a new layout and a larger cruising area, as well as outside tables on the Oudekerksplein side in summer, and extended opening hours, the Argos is starting a whole new life. I’m sure that if you visit the newly renovated flagship of the Amsterdam leather scene, you’ll have an exciting and hot night out!