Let's Jam! The Music's in Full Swing

Located on the border of Lichtenberg and Friedrichshain, Nöldnerplatz seems like a quiet suburban area. With its traditional market square, green spaces, and small parade of shops and cafés, it’s forgivable to mistake it for a small German town – despite popular tourist areas like Warschauer Strasse and the East Side Gallery being only a few U-Bahn stations away. Yet in true Berlin style, Nöldnerplatz has its own hidden gems for those looking to party when the sun goes down.

Every last Thursday of the month, local musicians come together for a night of music and improvisation at BLO Ateliers. The event is called Let’s Jam! and it’s operated by nearby café owner Kosta Zervas. The night usually takes the format of a live band, followed by a jamming session, and then finishes with resident DJ, DJ Chucky. Any keen musician can join the jam for a small fee and all styles of music are welcome. Last week, I was blown away by the boho garbed, musical talent of ‘spaghetti swing’ band Jakkle. Outfitted in marvellous hats and facial hair, the band was reminiscent of those quirky jazz cats from the Disney classic The Aristocats, and befittingly so, their fun and brassy style had everybody dancing. A hard act to follow, but when the jamming session got going there wasn’t disappointment. From rap to bluesy saxophone, the combination of different styles and instruments synergized as if they’d been playing together for years.

By day, Kosta and his wife run the charming Nadia and Kosta Café, just a few steps away from Nöldnerplatz Station. Always popular with young families, students, and tourists, it has a friendly atmosphere. As a regular customer at the café, I spotted the colourful Let’s Jam! poster in the window, and naturally I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

Tucked away down a mysterious, leafy alleyway is BLO Ateliers. As I ventured down the path with a couple of friends to the faint sound of music, I was excited to see what Let’s Jam! had in store for us. We arrived at 9pm to a warm welcome from Kosta and a room that was already buzzing. With the stage in the middle, plenty of room to dance, and a convenient address next to the café and U-Bahn, Kosta describes BLO as the “perfect location.” Street food is also available outside, which combined with the secluded site and lively music, gives the event a festival-like vibe.

What struck me most while inside BLO Ateliers was the people of all ages I recognised from around the area. Having lived in Nöldnerplatz for just a few months, it was lovely to see so many familiar faces. It’s rare in a big city like Berlin to find somewhere with such a sense of community. When I asked Kosta about his inspiration for the event, he told me, “I like to connect people,” explaining that after running the café for three years and having met so many exciting young musicians in Berlin, he wanted to organise an event which brought everyone together.

Let’s Jam! started as a monthly Saturday session at the café with only friends, family, and customers making music together. Whilst this made for a cosy, relaxed atmosphere, word got around and demand grew for an expansion to include everybody. Now Let’s Jam! is in full swing and will be moving to a Friday night starting in September.

Many jamming events run in the city, and Kosta explains they all tend to run on different schedules to support each other and that each one has its own special quality. For Let’s Jam!, it’s the sheer variety of music. Each month the night focuses on a different genre, with past bands ranging from well-known styles like funk and reggae, to the rather specific musicianship of “electro-live percussion trance”. Dancing this month will be open to the rhythms of rockabilly.

Something not often found in Berlin is Let’s Jam!’s unique format, which has been carefully structured to vary the atmosphere throughout the night. In what Kosta describes as a wave-like effect, the jamming session is arranged in sets and interspersed with music from the DJ, whom then plays into the early hours. This keeps everyone on their toes, the energy levels up, and the audience hungry for more.
Blending styles and transcending convention, Let’s Jam! is one of the most exciting music-filled nights in Berlin, easily vying with the more established jams held throughout the city. The session gifts a different musical appreciation and a night well spent, so there’s absolutely no reason to not pour a drink and get down to BLO Ateliers for the next session on June 25th!

Find Let’s Jam! here on FaceBook

By Laura Bithell

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