A LITTLE SLICE OF RASTAFARI PARADISE
This long established and definitely not your average beach-bar set along the River Spree has been Berlin's Rasta headquarters for the past 15 years.
The incredible murals covering the outside walls of YAAM and the Young and African Arts Market sign.
Featuring reggae, soul and dancehall DJs, and live performances from African, Caribbean and Brazilian bands, Yaam is also home to African cafe's, recording studios, and sporting facilities such as bike rental, a half-pipe and a basketball court.
From the moment I had reunited with Amanda in Berlin, she had suggested we find Yaam (the Young African Arts Market). After just learning about it whilst travelling through Amsterdam she wanted to make it a mission for the afternoon and after pleasantly surprising us by being located at the end of the East Side Gallery, Yaam was the golden light at the end of a 1.3km gallery that Amanda couldn't wait to run to.
The venue itself was not what I was expecting at all. I was thinking it would be some little bar or cafe' type setting but instead it is a huge outdoor beach bar tucked away behind a brick wall covered in street art. I loved it. Immediately once you walk up the stairs and through to the beach area, slipping off your shoes and swapping concrete for sand, you are hit by the smell of ganja, the sounds of reggae, the smiles of happy people and the sense that it really is this magical space close to the center of Berlin where you can completely block out the city.
The general ethos of the venue is to be a space to talk and make friends, dance, listen to music, eat well, play sports, and spend time, so it wasn't long before the older resident Rasta's came to greet us with a friendly hello. Due to off and on rain throughout the day apart from the regulars the outdoor venue was pretty empty, probably not such a bad thing though as we were easily able to find a tiny undercover area to sit at up the back. We stayed for over an hour chatting, and laughing until continuing our journey to Checkpoint Charlie.
Having moved six times since it's opening in 1994, the venue now comes under strong fire to close it's doors and make way for future developments. One of the highlights of the city, Yaam is a vibrant, warm-hearted alternative to a cocktail bar any night of the week. Favoured by locals and tourists alike, the Young African Arts Market is definitely a place that adds to the quirky charm of Berlin.
Yaam must survive in Berlin!