BEA1991’s parents both grew up in sleepy South London towns, so falling in love and moving to Amsterdam “was quite an exciting adventure for them at the time, I think.” Over the phone with The FADER from Amsterdam, where she was born and raised, the Dutch musician tells me that her family first lived in a wagon in "an industrial area that was set aside for campers,” before eventually moving to the residential East Side. As the city’s center expanded, her neighborhood become increasingly bustling, Bea explains. “When I was living there it was just the zoo around the corner, a pharmacy, and a pizza place.”
“I’m a real kind of Amsterdam soldier, or rebel—whatever you want to call it," Bea says. "I started realizing the changes [to the city] when I was cycling.” On frequent rides to and from her boyfriend’s house, she was able to witness the city's growth up close. “More and more people are moving out here and having babies or studying and it’s great,” Bea says. “I like the diversity it brings.” She says tourism, on the other hand, is starting to become "a problem.” Appropriately, Bea’s favored spots around the city wouldn’t make it into any guidebooks; she loves intimate and out-of-the-way spaces with bit of magic to them. Here are five of those haunts.
This Chinese supermarket on the Zeedjik is one of my favorite places when I'm home. Zeedijk, even up until the '80s was the most dangerous street in the city center to go to. This was kind of like the Skid Row, really not that safe. Someone even told me there used to be a sign out there saying 'Enter on your own accord.' Now its become one of the hippest areas. One of the really nice buildings out there is a cheap supermarket that sells Chinese paper and all these different products and things that you wouldn't really be able to find somewhere else in the city. Downstairs, they have a supermarket that’s got lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and tofu and they have a million kinds of soups and seaweed cookies and all this stuff that I really didn't know about until like a year ago.
Toko Dun Yong. Stormsteeg 9, 1012 BD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Vlieger is a really nice shop. They have everything from paint to, like, fake food, really amazing Chinese paper, all these different formats of paper and foils. I've never been to art school—I got rejected a lot when I was trying to apply and I always feel a bit like the odd one out when I walk in there because there's all these students and they know exactly what they're coming there for and they know exactly what they want. I just like kind of use it as a playground 'cause there's always crazy stuff to buy. Just the way its like presented is really nice, you can just spend hours in there going through all of the different designs that they have. It's really, really nice.
Vlieger. Amstel 34, 1017 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Stenenhoofd is this strange block that sticks out into the water. It goes up quite high and has like three trees on it. It's an odd thing, like you'll cycle past it and think, what is this? Why is it here? In the summertime, a lot of people go there to swim cause you can sit on it and jump into the water. I guess you're not really allowed to, but nobody cares. I used to live near there and when I go back now I feel like I'm kind of revisiting a spot where I used to run around as a little girl. It's quite amazing because they were planning to get rid of it, and then they realized people were hanging out there and they put a little cafe and stuff in. Now it makes more sense for the government to keep it there.
Stenenhoofd. Westerdoksdijk 705-C, 1013 BX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Waterlooplein is this old flea market close to my parents' house. It used to be a lot wilder, at least that's what I've been told. Back then the market was a lot bigger—like 2 football fields worth of people selling just crockpots and cutlery, clothes, digital stuff, anything you can imagine. Now it's smaller but it's still got that atmosphere. A lot of men in their 50s and 60s are still selling there. I know some of them by name, just cause I go out there a lot, and I just talk to them and they tell me about how it use to be. It's got this authentic vibe to it, even though at first it looks very touristy. It seems so vulnerable in the way it could disappear anytime. It's definitely one of the places that makes me feel at home.
Waterlooplein. Waterlooplein 2, 1011 NZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
There's this crazy-ass shop down at the end of Kinkerstraat, it's one of the streets on the side that goes all the way down and outwards. At the end of it, there's a shop that just sells all of this secondhand menswear for street builders and electricians. I don't know what it's called, it might not even have a name. There's like plumber clothes, and all these really practical, really kind of simple, ugly, boiled-down things. There's actual practical meaning behind the clothing. But I go in every time I go by because I just love the suits that they have. I bought Crocs the other day. It's just the best place to go to for t-shirts, big comfy shoes, and firemen gear. I guess this would be my favorite shop right now.
Kinkerstraat 138, 1053 EE Amsterdam, Netherlands