In the early seventies there were two places where my friends and I could score some pot. In Arnhem we went to te Noppensteeg and in Utrecht, aan de Oudegracht met Geertebrug, we visited the Sarasani cellar. It was in the days before coffeshops even existed. Especially the ‘werfkelder’ in Utrecht was a favorite of us. The cellar used to be a storage cellar for the Sarasani Circus but the place was sold to Holly Hasenbos in 1968.

The place was magic. Bert and I would walk along the Oude Gracht and at some point took the stairs down to the channel. When we entered the cellar we pass along some live snakes, the lights changed into blue light, there was always good music and a very relaxed atmosphere. Plenty of different choices and a friendly owner who helped us choose the best shit of that day. I remember he had very strong arms, just as thick as the mighty pythons at the entrance. After the buy we sat down on the couch back in the cellar, took our chilms and enjoyed the chitral, khandar, zero zero, red Lebanon, maroc or wiet, enjoying the music and good apmosphere. Really mind-expanding times. Remember; these were the days where Koos Zwart did his weekly price update of stuff every Saturday on national VARA radio!

Unfortunately the story has a sad ending. The owner, Holly Hasenbos, was at least ten times arrested by the police and every time he managed to come back and open the beatclub again. At the time I had no idea but the terrarium with snakes was used as a storage place for his stuff. Without knowing it Holly was a forerunner of the modern coffeshop-rules that are present today. But the constant runs on his club changed him from a very relaxed person to a man living under constant pressure. In 1984 he was driving in his red MG through the city of Utrecht and was halted by the police for a defect backlight. It isn’t exactly clear what happened then. Apparently a stressed and paranoid Hasenbos draw a gun and police shot him dead on the spot…

It wasn’t the end of the Sarasani club yet. A familymember took over and ran the club until 2007. That year the mayor closed the club becaused they had selled a ten kilo deal to a german customer. That marked the end of a special place, Holland’s first beatcellar where bands like Q65, Golden Earring and Cuby & Blizzards have played. As a coffeeshop it was well known, not only by the dutch but also by Italians, Germans, French, English and Americans. The end of a monument.