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The Casa Rosso theatre in the Red Light District of Amsterdam

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The history of the Casa Rosso in the Red Light District
27/12/2018

The Casa Rosso celebrated this year their 50th anniversary. The world famous sex theatre opened up back in 1968 as a nightclub, erotic theatre and casino. Founded by Maurits de Vries, better known as Zwarte Joop (Black Joop), it became one of the biggest attractions of the Red Light District of Amsterdam.

Because of the entrepreneurship of Maurits de Vries, the Red Light District of Amsterdam became world famous. As one of the first, the Casa Rosso Theatre began selling tickets to tour operators abroad to visit the Casa Rosso Theatre, which spread the word of the Red Light District.

During the 70’s Amsterdam’s Chinatown area, the Zeedijk, which is located right next to the Red Light District, became a place dominated heroin dealers, drug addicts and junkies. Maurits de Vries however made sure the Red Light District stayed clean of this problem by hiring experienced karate experts as security guards to keep the streets clean.

In December of 1983 the Casa Rosso burned down after a fired employee was angry of being denied access to the Casa Rosso and Club 26, which was located next door. He walked into the Casa Rosso with a jerry can filled with gasoline and torched the place down. In total 13 people died during the fire and the ex-employee was arrested and convicted for a sentence of 12 years.


To prevent the Red Light District by being overrun by the drug dealers from the Zeedijk, mayor of Amsterdam Ed van Thijn and Maurits de Vries joined forces to re-open the Casa Rosso. Because Maurits de Vries was traumatized by the fire of the Casa Rosso, he did not want to re-open the Casa Rosso in the same place, and instead relocated the Casa Rosso to its current location, just a few feet away from the old location.

At the request of Maurits de Vries a memorial was made for the old location of the Casa Rosso with the text: “De ochtend is gekomen maar het is nog nacht – Jesaja 21:12” (The morning has come but it is still night - Jesaja 21:12). Maurits de Vries eventually died a couple of years later in 1986. Some say he never got over the fire that burned the Casa Rosso down.

In 1997 Jan Otten takes over the Casa Rosso Theatre, Bananenbar and Erotic Museum from real estate owner and brothel owner Charles Geerts. In 2006 the city of Amsterdam suspects Charles Geerts to be involved with crime, and threatens to close down his window brothels. Geerts however wins this court case, and eventually the city decides to buy out Charles Geerts from his window brothels.

In 2008 owner Jan Otten is threatened by the city to close down the Casa Rosso Theatre and the Bananenbar, because they were once owned by Charles Geerts. Eventually however mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen withdraws this threat in 2009, and the Casa Rosso is allowed to continue being the biggest attraction in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.

The Casa Rosso Theatre has daily live sex shows. The theatre holds place for 186 people and has a balcony with a bar where people can get drinks. Entrance fee into the theatre costs €45,- or €55,- including drinks.

Discover more about the Casa Rosso and Red Light District during our tours.

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The Casa Rosso theatre in Amsterdam's Red Light District in 1974
The Casa Rosso in 1974

Maurits de Vries aka Zwarte Joop, the founder of the Casa Rosso
Casa Rosso founder Maurits De Vries aka Zwarte Joop

The Casa Rosso theatre in Amsterdam's Red Light District in 1978
The Casa Rosso in 1978

The Casa Rosso theatre in Amsterdam's Red Light District in 2018
The Casa Rosso in 2018

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