by Thaloen Verweij
BUMP: a big brother for bar PRIK
Good news for the Amsterdam gay scene! The men behind popular bar PRIK are opening their second venue. BUMP in the Kerkstraat is a bar on two floors with a similar character, but in a clubby setting and with more room for entertainment.
They would certainly not claim themselves to be the saviours of Amsterdam as a gay capital. However, with bar PRIK, owners Gerson van Eck, Jelger Bakker and Philip Yeldon have been giving a big boost to the ailing gay scene in recent years. With BUMP they are continuing this positive trend.
,,By opening BUMP we want to do more for the people of Amsterdam and for the gay men and lesbians visiting the city,’’ says Jelger. ,,We want to ensure that the gay scene develops into a more diverse direction again.’’
How do they plan to achieve this? ,,We want to create a fun place where people feel welcome and safe,’’ Jelger continues. ,,A bit like PRIK, where you do not necessarily need to be gay to have a great evening.’’
,,Most gay men do not have any children,’’ says Philip. ,,So in a sense we are all one big family meeting up in bars. That is why we find it very important for our visitors of all ages – from young to old – to feel at home.’’
Gerson: ,,Gays and lesbians want to be able to take their straight friends to the pub without being ignored or get mean looks, which happens quite a lot in regular gay bars. The younger crowd does not seem to have a lot of purpose for traditional gay bars anyway. They can manage their social contacts over the Internet. Therefore, it is vital that going out is affordable and that we, as a venue, offer something extra.’’
So, how do they plan to keep visitors coming to their new business? Philip: ,,Good quality and friendly prices. As in PRIK we want to attract a good mixture of people with a welcoming atmosphere, cheerful staff and attentive service. Also, BUMP is bigger and therefore has a more international look and feel and more room for entertainment.’’
At least nine gay venues closed for business within the previous six months in Amsterdam, the entrepreneurs recount. Most notable was the collapse of the Reguliersdwarsstraat as the epicentre of the local gay universe.
However, it is not their ambition to jump into the void left behind there. Philip: ,,Actually, we want to be everything the Reguliers was not. The street was once a fixture for gay men, but nowadays people want friendlier places – nothing too showy, and with less attitude. Celebrating diversity is probably more important for a bar than stressing its gay character.’’
A major factor in the success of PRIK is its staff and their lack of attitude, says Gerson: ,,That is why we hire people for BUMP according to the same philosophy.’’ Philip: ,,A person who is interested in working with us should be energetic, open-minded, friendly and young at heart.’’
The cute bartender who pours your prosecco on a Friday night in PRIK, will not be shaking your cocktail at BUMP the next evening, explains Gerson: ,,The two teams will be clearly separated. We have noticed that a lot of people frequent PRIK to catch up with the bar staff. So, it should be clear who works in which venue.’’
The building of BUMP used to house disco Homolulu, a legendary club that was run by the Turkish, lesbian author Güner Kuban. Philip: ,,It is a beautiful, historic building that was once the largest coach house in the city.’’ Until recently, it was a restaurant. Jelger: ,,The place was designed as a modern, high-end pub. We have made it into a modern, sexy and colourful space.’’
In the middle of the room, a black bar and a pink staircase catch the eye. The ground floor of BUMP is a clubby bar with deejays spinning every day and a stage with a varied program of live music and performances, explains Philip. ,,The upstairs floor with its golden bar is a bit more intimate. There’s also a playroom with table football.’’
The upper floor can also be rented for private parties. Chefs can use the professional kitchen in the building.
Situated in between Leidseplein and Singel, two addresses that hosted the first gay establishments after World War II, Kerkstraat was traditionally one of Amsterdam’s gay centres. In the vicinity of BUMP you will still find gay businesses such as Church, Spijker, sex shop The Bronx, and hotels Golden Bear and Amistad.
The men behind BUMP don’t believe there will be a lot of competition in the street. Gerson: ,,There’s a variety of businesses in Kerkstraat. They are all very different in character from BUMP, but all have like us a very personal approach.”
Finally, what should we make of the name BUMP? Philip: ,,The name symbolizes what we stand for: we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously.’’ Gerson: ,,And just like PRIK, BUMP is subject to different interpretations in both Dutch and English.’’