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Van Beeren Bet
(1902 - 1967) Holland

Van Beeren Bet

Bar owner

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Bet, the "Queen of the Zeedijk", born in a poor and large Jordan family, was the owner of the popular 't Mandje (The Basket) on the Zeedijk (sea dike) in Amsterdam. This street, close to the old harbour, has for long had a reputation for illicit pleasures, foremost among them prostitution and booze. It was the place for sailors to spend their money on arrival in Amsterdam.

 't Mandje (The Basket)The Basket was a typical small Amsterdam pub, at most 40 square meters overall. Onlu after the WWII did the bar get a reputation in gay and lesbian circles.Bet was the archetype of a gin-drinking, ciagar-smoking and motorbike-riding dyke who wore leather jackets and sailor suits. She was a tough woman who defended bth her many lovers against other pretenders as well as the gay boys against violent seamen or obtrusive police-officers.

The Basket was not a gay bar, as it attracted a mixed crod. But it developed a gay and lesbian reputation at that time because of the availability of "normal" men and women who did not object to a gay or lesbian trick.

After Bet's death, her straight sistr Greet continued The Basket in her spirit. With the invasion of drugs and criminality in the 1970s, she was no longer able to keep the bar open and closed it in 1983. Eforts to get the interior on the list of monuments and to establish a gay museum in the building failed.

But the Bar still exists sa it was, and was reopened in the week of the Amsterdam Gay Games in 1998, while a replica of the interior was exhibited in the city's Historical Museum.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001

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