Red Lights

This is it: Reykjavik's Red Light District, on the corner of Laugavegur and Frakkastigur. Vegas is an Exotic Dance venue, and the sidewalk ad below that neon sign is for Maxim's down the street, which offers peep shows and an erotic shop.

Of course there are other shops and clubs catering to the discerning gentleman scattered throughout the downtown area, but Vegas has some serious lasting power, surviving the massive backlash against this kind of entertainment that whipped through Reykjavik about three years ago.

In the years leading up to the Millenium, exotic nightclubs seemed to pop up on every street corner, and dancers from eastern Europe flocked to this newly ripe and infamously party-friendly town. "Exotic" weekend tours to Reykjavik were advertised in Europe and the U.S., and every Friday the streets would fill with packs of randy bachelors and out-of-control stag parties.

At first we didn't mind. They were, after all, spending a ton of money here. But when it became obvious that this "Erotic Reykjavik" marketing concept was having a negative effect on the reputations of Icelandic Women (which was ironic since the great majority of the dancers were foreigners,) not to mention encouraging the exploitative nature of the exotic business in general, the government cracked down hard.

The few clubs that survived are supposed to be highly regulated, and dancers' work permits doled out sparingly; it used to be a common occurance to see tall, lithe, strong and sexy women with long, weaved and braided hair and gaudy decorated nails walking down the streets on the way to the gym, speaking Baltic languages amongst themselves. Even in the daylight they were exotic, and one only imagined the bizzare lives they led. They've mostly gone home now, or gone on to other countries where they can practice their specific form of art a little more freely, and maybe see a little more sun.

The party hasn't really stopped here, but it may just be a tad bit harder to find...

2 comments:

L said...

interesting! there's been no such crackdown in my area... you can't drive half a mile without seeing at least two strip clubs, massage parlours or "lingerie modeling" businesses...

after all-- Tampa, Florida invented the "lap dance"

I think that's pretty much all we're known for.

digdug said...

ahhh yes. the ever popular "exotic dancers". i think you can find these establishments in all corners of the globe. it is amazing that with the advent of internet porn and internet dating services, these places still have an attraction.
it's nice to see that reykjavik likes to keep it's red light district small and managable. i've never been a big fan of titty bars.