“I feel really safe here,” says Syrian refugee Ali, one of the attendees at the Arab Beats venue in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, located in the basement of the Lido. “First Syria, then I had to go to Istanbul and I didn’t know anyone, and then I came here and now all of this. I just want safety. I’m a peaceful guy and I know I will never have any problems.”
And this is just one of many positive comments to come out about the game-changing Berlin club night that brings together refugees and the city’s coolest kids in a bid to snub local racist movements.
But this isn’t a new initiative – it stems from the wildly successful Berlin scene in the 90s, where another group of refugees, then Bosnians from ex-Yugoslavia, gathered in clubs and bars to safely and inexpensively enjoy Berlin’s nightlife.
This was Balkan Beats, and the founder (ex-refugee Robert Soko) is the man behind Arab Beats, which so far has equaled the success of the city’s inclusive and diverse parties of the 90s. This is substantiated by the wider public interest in the night, with a documentary being made by acclaimed Dutch filmmaker and Sarajevo native Sergej Kreso alongside Soko.
The collective (Siin), which is comprised of Rafi from Palestine and Uroš from Serbia, blend together a hybrid of traditional Arabic sounds and electronic music in a classic Berlin way. “We want to make electronic, Berlin-based DJ Sets with a clear Arabic mix,” says Petkovic. “Not this cheesy Arab Disco, but really in the Berlin-style, modern and cool.”