Yaam: relax at a cultural melting pot

If you are looking for raw, untouched subcultures in Berlin, Yaam is the place to be. This
organisation combines a nightclub, beach bar and gallery all on the same location, next to
the spree in Friedrichshain. The venue doesn’t stick to one type of event and this is shown in
their audience. From children to adults, local Germans to tourists from all over the world,
from African music to techno. Everybody is welcome at Yaam and this makes for a very cool,
spontaneous vibe.

To get a bit more insight, I spoke with Phillipp Leisenberg, event manager at Yaam. He told me that the vision of Yaam
is to bring people together, no matter what their background interests. “It’s always nice to
see people discovering a new genre of music at Yaam and to end up liking it. Yaam makes
sure that no one feels left out and that there’s a place for everyone.” It is a meeting place for
people from all around the world, it provides many jobs and creates a feeling of
togetherness. You could say that Yaam is like a small community, where any visitor immediately feels at home.

Origins

Yaam started 20 years ago by a couple of guys who came together every Sunday to play
basketball, play music on a sound system and have a few drinks. Soon more people started
to join so they rented a place to do this every Sunday. From playing basketball and having a
few drinks, their events started to turn into parties, food markets, galleries and now even
festivals.

Locations

Yaam hasn’t always been on the same location. 20 years ago, the first place they rented was
in Kreuzberg. This now is one of the hippest areas in Berlin, but back then it wasn’t much
more than a poor outskirt of Berlin. This was beneficiary for Yaam, given the low rent prices.
They started with wooden planks as benches and made their own lights. Everything they
could do themselves, they did. This do it yourself ethos is a big part of the Yaam mentality
and is still present today. However, the fact that they made everything themselves, they
were not allowed to stay on the same location. The city of Berlin would only allow them to
rent the same location for short time, with a maximum of five years. The city does this
because they want the city to keep evolving. In its 20 years of existence, Yaam had to change
their location six times. This has had a big impact on Yaam, both positively and negatively.
The positive side is that Yaam isn’t restricted to one region, and people from all over Berlin
know of their existence. The negative side is that with each change of location, they had to
start from the ground up again. It takes approximately two years for them to start working
to their full potential again after a change of location.

 

Events

The main reason why people visit Yaam are the concerts. They have two different venues, a
big one where there can be up to 700 people and then a smaller one with a maximum of 150
people. The music played at these concerts is very diverse, but you can say that the main
focus lies on Reggeaton, Dub and Hip Hop. Parties are mostly organised in the weekends and
sometimes on Thursday. Besides normal parties they also organise festivals in the summer.
These can be up to four days long and are often combined with workshops, food markets
and many more.

At the moment you can follow drum lessons every Thursday, there’s a graffiti workshop
running, you can learn yoga and Capoeira and there’s even a course that learns about the
origins of hip hop. Every so often there’s a new gallery in which paintings from international
artists are shown. Here as well, there are workshops given, mostly to children and high
school classes. Besides all that you can grab a drink in the beach bar from April until
September.