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From Club Friends to Family In Belgrade, Serbia

During my travels, I often find the most unexpected and enriching experiences in the least likely places. One such experience unfolded in Belgrade, Serbia, where I discovered a vibrant and welcoming community that quickly turned club friends into family.


Discovering Belgrade’s Nightlife


Belgrade’s nightlife is renowned for its energy and diversity. The city’s unique floating clubs, known as splavs, are a testament to this dynamic scene. My first encounter with this culture was at Hot Mess, one of the most popular splavs. Here, I met Maria Tavt, a local promoter and DJ who, along with her colleague Lea, hosts the Cherry on Top party every Saturday.


Walking into Hot Mess, I was struck by the absence of other Black people, making my presence all the more notable. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I felt an immediate connection with the crowd, driven by the infectious energy of the music and the welcoming atmosphere.


A Unique Cultural Exchange


Maria’s story is a testament to the unexpected connections that can be forged in such settings. Born and raised in Serbia, Maria’s experience as a Black woman in a predominantly white society has not always been easy. She shared a humorous yet telling anecdote about a police officer questioning her identity due to her skin color, highlighting the rarity of diversity in the region.


Despite these challenges, Maria embraced her uniqueness, using it to carve out a niche for herself in Belgrade’s club scene. Her ability to speak Serbian fluently often surprised locals, further underscoring the intersection of identity and perception in her daily life.


The Power of Music


Maria’s journey into DJing is rooted in her love for music. A classically trained pianist, she transitioned into DJing after modeling for several years. Her deep appreciation for R&B and hip-hop has allowed her to curate sets that resonate with diverse audiences, blending classic and contemporary tracks seamlessly.


The Cherry on Top parties exemplify this blend, attracting a crowd that appreciates the full spectrum of urban music. From Notorious B.I.G. to Drake, Maria’s sets span decades of musical evolution, creating a space where locals and visitors alike can connect through shared rhythms.


Embracing Differences


One of the most poignant aspects of my time in Belgrade was the realization of how shared interests, like music, can bridge cultural divides. Despite the initial culture shock, I found myself at home among the enthusiastic club-goers who sang along to every track, regardless of the era or genre.


Maria’s experience as a Black Serbian offers a unique perspective on belonging and identity. Her ability to navigate and thrive in this environment speaks volumes about the power of resilience and the importance of community.


Building an Extended Family


The connections I made in Belgrade, from Maria to the club patrons, are a testament to the city’s welcoming spirit. What began as a night out turned into a meaningful exchange of stories, experiences, and cultures. This journey reinforced my belief in the value of embracing and celebrating our differences, ultimately making us more open-minded and inspired individuals.


Join me in exploring new cultures and communities! Subscribe to my journey and become part of an ever-growing extended family. Let’s learn, grow, and connect together.


This article is dedicated to Maria, who passed in 2018. Her spirit and love for music continue to inspire.

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