Support LGBT couple-operated travel businesses around the world! We have mentioned it a few times already when talking about our favorite LGBT and gay-friendly places to go in Amsterdam. There is one gay bar we love most: a lovely, cozy, and always crowded LGBT location in the Jordaan, the heart of the Dutch capital city. And we are not the only gay guys coming here regularly. Bears, otters, and queers from all around the world are going to the gay bar PRIK in Amsterdam for the Friday after-work drinks and weekend beers before going out in Amsterdam’s diverse nightlife. But the award-winning “most popular gay bar of the Netherlands” has its own, unique story to tell since it opened its doors in 2006.
The gay bar was founded by the back then gay couple Gerson and Jelger who are still running the place together ever since, although they are not together anymore. How open-minded the LGBT community can be, right? Right! And it’s getting even better! For Gerson, the gay bar PRIK in Amsterdam became the starting point for his long-lasting relationship with his new, current partner, Phil. Let us tell you more about the PRIK, the gay couple story of Gerson and Phil on Couple of Men, and learn more about how the gay couple from Amsterdam is facing the challenge of the current situation (closing due to the crisis) together.
The Gay Couple’s connection with PRIK
It was the year 2006 when gay couple Gerson and Jelger decided to found gay bar Prik in Amsterdam together. It should be the foundation stone for their ongoing success story. And although the couple is not together anymore, the Prik was the place where Gerson met his current partner Phil during his first-ever visit to the gay bar.
“I’m Gerson van Eck, I founded gay bar PRIK 14 years ago with my ex-partner Jelger Bakker, and we have been running the bar together ever since. I’m together with my current boyfriend Phil for 11 years now. He moved to Amsterdam 12 years ago from the UK. On his first night in Prik, it was Sinterklaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas) and we had organized “Prik je Pakje”, which was a Christmas-themed dating game. We had a pink-painted Sinterklaas and a poppers-Piet – instead of a zwarte piet (Dutch for black Pete) – who were delivering messages between people. I was working behind the bar and my two colleagues and I all fancied Phil who was sitting alone at the bar. So, what else to do than sending him messages, too.”
That should be the beginning of yet another gay couple story at the awarded “best gay venue of Amsterdam”. But this one is special. Why? Who can say to have been running a business together with a boyfriend and ex-boyfriend at the same time?
“At the end of the night I ended up kissing him on the stairs to the toilets, and we exchanged mobile numbers. After ringing his doorbell in the middle of the night for half an hour trying to wake him up (desperate times… I know) we spent the night together, and basically, we’ve lived together ever since. We bought an apartment together after 3 months, and he even bought into the business for some years when we had temporarily two bars. Running a business with a boyfriend and ex-boyfriend definitely was interesting and challenging!”
Operating PRIK Amsterdam & Traveling
The gay bar Prik Amsterdam is a fundamental and important part of Amsterdam’s LGBT community life. Located on the so-called Spuistraat in Jordaan, the team of the Prik is organizing a huge street festival with several stages, food trucks, and mobile bars. Of course, dance shows and Drag Queens are part of the annual Pride Amsterdam Program. But even though the bar became their lives, so to say, traveling around the world was and is a big part of the guys’ year planning.
“Before opening the bar in 2006, Jelger and I made a two-month trip backpacking through Asia, which was a wonderful experience. We realized, it would be the last long trip for a very long time, as traveling is difficult when you have a bar together and manage a team of handsome waiters. I also like to remember my trips together with Phil, for example to South Africa, Key West, and other parts of the USA like Brice and Grand Canyon.”
The Netherlands is known for its cheese, bikes, and of course, its tulip and flower fields. Additional to the Dutch capital, the German neighbor offers a variety of exciting cities and islands along the west coast of Europe. Read all about Groningen, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Den Hague, and the Dutch island Vlieland.
What about the Couple’s travel plans for 2020/2021?
From the exotic countries of Asia to the LGBT and gay beaches of Spain. The gay couple found their dream destination in Southern Europe, in Spain to be precise. Gay men probably all know about the Spanish city of Sitges, located just about 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona.
“My partner and I just bought a house in Sitges in Spain, southwest of Barcelona last year, which was a bit of investment by renting it out (well… not this year, obviously…). For us, it is a nice getaway from the business back home in Amsterdam. As much as we would like to, it is hard to plan holidays ahead as I’m always dependent on what goes on in the bar and having enough staff all year round.”
And although traveling is currently off the table, the guys cannot wait to be back in their Mediterranean house.
“For this year, we really planned to go to Sitges every two months at least, for some days. Well, before the crisis, of course. Because even though Sitges is small, there is a lot to do 😉 with many events specifically for the gay community. And, of course, with Barcelona just 20 minutes away and the Cava region with beautiful surroundings around the corner, there’s a lot to explore.”
The Dutch capital is considered to be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. By legalizing same-sex marriage as the first country in the world already in 2001, the Netherlands and its capital offer a diverse LGBTQ+ friendly cultural program throughout the whole year. The highlight of the Summer is (Gay) Pride Amsterdam.
And then, Corona hit the world…
Who could have thought the year 2020 will take such an unexpected turn. It all started as planned, also for the gay couple Gerson and Phil. And like many couples and LGBT and non-LGBT families working in the hospitality services that closed down indefinitely, the guys are facing the challenges of living, working, and loving together 24 hours a day.
“I love my alone time, so these are challenging times! So, we really try to keep life as balanced as possible and keep working days real working days from 9:00-18:00, have a walk to clear our heads, and make a healthy dinner together. But also taking some bike rides or walk on our own, just to be alone for a bit. At the beginning of this period, Phil and I had a good talk about what was to come to our household. By addressing that, being together a lot will bring a lot of extra pressure on the relationship. By putting extra emphasis on caring for each other has helped a lot.”
The guys try to find their structure to the current circumstances but also give each other time and space to think out of the box to find new, maybe even better ways of working when the restart is coming.
“For me, work and being busy keeps me sane, so I keep working structures, and also this time is an opportunity to think out of the box and think about what (more) you want to get out of life after this. Netflix also gets boring at some point, so it’s better to plan some fixed times to do something useful, whether it is maintenance to your house, sitting down to write about plans and dreams, or whatever gives you a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.”
How to beat the Corona Crisis? Together!
#1 Try to keep working days from 9:00-18:00
“We both really try to keep our lives as balanced as possible while keeping working days like real working days from 9:00-18:00.”
#2 Try to put extra emphasis on caring for each other
“At the beginning of this period, Phil and I had a good talk about what was to come to our household. By addressing that being together a lot will bring a lot of extra pressure on the relationship. By putting extra emphasis on caring for each other has helped a lot.”
#3 Try to accomplishment at the end of the day
“Netflix also gets boring at some point, so, it’s better to plan some fixed times to do something useful, whether it is maintenance to your house, sitting down to write about plans and dreams, or whatever gives you a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.”
#4 Try to support small business
“You can really help us a lot by supporting us! We have a really fun pub quiz every Sunday at 5 pm and ask participants for a voluntary donation. The winner of the pub quiz receives a Prik voucher with a value of 5x the donation! Also, we have created our own “currency”, money bills with Prikkiedik’s (our cat) face on it. You can buy these now and use them with a 10% value increase when PRIK re-opens. You can buy them as well as PRIK T-shirts, special wines, cocktail sets and lots of other items in our brand new PRIK webshop.”
Gay Couple operated Gay Bar PRIK Amsterdam
“Where do we want to travel first after the crisis is over? Well, the main focus will be on getting gay bar PRIK Amsterdam back on track first and secure its future. So, we have no travel plans as of now, at least not for leisure reasons. Of course, I will visit my mum who is living isolated too, maybe a quick trip to the UK to my partner Phil’s mom and family. Once things are really back to the new normal, we are planning to go to our house in Sitges in Spain and hopefully enjoy the house there for a bit this year.”
1012 SV Amsterdam
Karl & Daan.
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