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Getto 15 years

by Pieter Claeys in Scene , 28 augustus 2012

The Getto on the Warmoesstraat opened its doors more than fifteen years ago. And this was celebrated with a big party.Getto is more than just a bar where you can have a nice meal. Owners John and Bertie:“Getto is a place for like-minded people.”

“In the Getto?” is what I mostly hear when I ask friends where we should meet. Above all, this is because of their amazing cocktails. The friends who can resist the Cocktail of the Month can be counted on the fingers of one hand. And my female friends just love them. They all have their own favourite. Without a word of lie, in preparation of this article I have received some threats, for example: “You simply HAVE to mention the Appletini, otherwise I will defriend you on Facebook!!!” Here goes. A pregnant friend tweeted: “Delicious, those (non-alcoholic) Mocktails, I wish they had them over here in Friesland!”

It is not just the cocktails that are world famous in my circle of friends, the Getto also servers wonderful food. The menu is always diverse, and they always use fresh ingredients. Perfect for dinner with friends or a romantic tête-a-tête. And we haven’t even mentioned the popular Getto burgers yet. Those are named after famous drag queens and are served with tasty and thick-cut fries. Or what about a full plate of toothsome taco’s with bacon, cheddar cheese and guacamole? Another one of their big successes. Still not convinced? A little survey also revealed praise about hygienic sanitation. And the service was qualified as “extremely friendly.”   

What is so special about the Getto? It is not just a bar, it’s a place where you can drink cocktails with girlfriends and hang out with friends to try out home-infused Dutch gins. Gay, straight, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer... it doesn’t really matter who you are or where you are from at the Getto. So do not be alarmed when you suddenly run into a drag queen or a leather queen, or a family with children. Everybody is welcome “in the Getto.”


John (left)The Getto was created by three men: John, Bertie, and Noel. They met each other working at the sleep-inn, which is now called Hotel Arena. John was the restaurant manager, and Irish Noel was working in the kitchen. Bertie organised parties at the sleep-inn. John and Noel had been toying with the idea to open their own bar-restaurant, while Bertie was dreaming of his own hotel. Eventually the three men Bertieworked together in making the Getto possible. For a period of three years they were working towards that goal. Bertie even followed a course, so that he could write the business plan. After they saw a building on the Warmoesstraat, and a brewery saw potential, things started happening. Although a lot had to be done before they could open the business. The limited budget was used to buy kitchen equipment, and the initial furniture was bought on Waterlooplein. But the mess the Getto was fifteen years ago (actually, it is sixteen, John reveals) became popular with visitors. Bertie had learned a lot about cocktails during his previous job at the Roxy, which was convenient. The Getto also programmed live DJs. And before long, the Getto became the new place to be in the Amsterdam gay scene.


At the time Getto opened its doors on June 11, 1996, the Warmoesstraat was a predominantly male street because of the proximity of leather bars. The drag queen bar next to the Winston had just closed, and the rest of the street looked like some sort of wasteland. On the Zeedijk there were some gay bars, but the Warmoesstraat did not offer much general gay entertainment. Even though the Getto was not explicitly gay, it did attract a diverse mix of people, regardless of sex, preference or age.

The Getto didn’t only serve cocktails and good food, the owners also launched special nights, from the women’s night Getto Girls to Japanese karaoke with Vera Springveer. And if you like to gamble and play bingo on the Zeedijk every week, you might be interested to know that it started at the Getto, hosted by drag queen Dusty. The same Dusty who perked up the Getto boat on the first Canal Parade. In 1998, the Getto even won the award for Best Boot in the parade. And the Getto is always present at pink celebrations, such as Gay Pride and Leather Pride, and other festivities, such as Carnival and Halloween. And if there is no reason to party... the Getto will think of one. By organising an exposition, a drag king contest, or the launch of a new Burger Queen.

Visitors are not only welcome during the evening, the Getto also organises events during the day. One of their latest is children’s club Getties. The idea came from customers who had been going to the bar since the beginning, but were settling down and having children. With kid’s karaoke, competitions on the Wii, face painting en fancy dress parties, the Getto does not only open its doors to children. These afternoons are also a straight-friendly meeting place for gay and lesbian couples with children.


The name probably represents the philosophy of the Getto the best: to create a meeting place where everyone is welcome and like-minded can meet. Not explicitly gay, but nicely mixed and straight-friendly. Initially, the owners were considering the name “Gollem,” but that name already existed in the Amsterdam hospitality industry. There was a brain storming session with refrigerator magnets, and when they looked up the original meaning of the word “Getto,” the choice was quickly made. Getto actually means “collection of people with different ideas.” Eventually the Getto became “a place for like-minded people” and has been one for over fifteen years. And if the fans have anything to say about it, for at least another fifteen years. See you soon, in the Getto! 

Getto, Cocktails, Burgers & Bar
Warmoesstraat 51

Fotografie: Erik Verheggen,  

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