Yama, Moscow

“Yama” (Russian for “the pit”) is a folk name given to a public amphitheater structure built around a part of Moscow’s old fortress wall. Planned as a historical open-air site in one of the liveliest parts of the city center, the pit became very likened and populated by young citizens. While monumental parks and public spaces, the Red Square, the Kremlin often feels like a fake-ish tourist attraction to Russian metropolitans, “Yama” organically became a true Muscovite’s place: people came here to socialize, listen to independent lectures and free music concerts, and most importantly – openly drink. In Russia, it is illegal to drink alcohol in public spaces, so usually, people would drink sneakily, get very intoxicated, and cause social disturbances. However, “Yama” became a morally different region of the city center – what was prohibited elsewhere, became more a limited (people would only drink a little), yet normal practice in the amphitheater. I think it is very interesting how this small civic place became a zone where the common law is ignored both by citizens and the police (it is situated right next to a police station), due to Moscow’s demand for a place where people could drink a bit and not worry about getting caught.

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