In 1927 Bet van Beeren (1902-1967) opened ’t Mandje, a bar located on the Zeedijk in Amsterdam. The bar was famous for many reasons: because of Bet and who she was, for the (what we would call) down-to-earth mentality and of course for its inclusiveness. The bar was open to everybody: rich, poor, men, women, gay, lesbian, straight. People were allowed to dance in the bar on certain occasions, regardless gender or sexual preference.
Bet was a visible and open lesbian. For many years she was the Queen of the Zeedijk, running a bar in very difficult and hard times. Sometimes she would disappear for a number of days, simply to have fun in other places, with other people. But she would always return to her bar, her billiard, and her place on the Zeedijk.
After her death in 1967 ‘t Mandje was taken over by Bet’s younger sister Greetje until it closed in 1982. It re-opened in 2008 and ‘t Mandje continues to be a great bar, following the philosophy of its founder: open and welcome to all.
Thanks to her bar we can all remember Bet van Beeren as a legendary person. A strong individual and one of the first to open the doors for all.