History of Moscow’s Language Exchange Meeting

Some people ask us about how it all began, the very beginning of MoscowLEM (Moscow’s Language Exchange Meetings) is something a few people know. We’re glad to share it with you. We never imagined it turned out to be like this, our goal was much smaller, but we accepted the challenge to provide the best experience possible, and here we are, still making sure you’ve got it on every single meeting we organize.

A bit of History…

The two founders of MoscowLEM, Juan C. Castresana and Polina Malinina, met in a café as Juan wanted Polina’s help to create a language exchange meeting in Moscow. The original plan was to find a venue for around 50 people that would allow us to meet every week to practice our language skills. At the time, all of the language exchange clubs and meetings were paid, and the idea was to create an event that it would be free for everybody, people would just pay for their drinks.

Moscow Language Exchange Meeting, later called MoscowLEM, started December 21st of 2013 at Kukly Pistolety, Mendeleyevskaya, as a meeting of a few friends, expats and Russians, who wanted to meet and practice languages. There were around 30 people sitting around several tables, from different nationalities, all practicing different languages. It was great.

Since then, the meeting continued every Sunday from 18.00h and it grew to numbers we couldn’t even imagine. Five months later there were over four hundred people and we changed our venue to Time Out Bar, near Mayakovskaya. The meeting continued to grow and we moved to George Best Pub, near the Red Square in Ploshchad Revolutsii.

After that, a lot of people demanded to move the meeting to the park as the weather started to get better and better, and the meeting moved to Park Gorkogo for the whole summer 2014.

By the end of the summer, the events got sponsored by famous game brand named Mosigra that gave us lots of board games for our meetings. We also moved back to a bar, a very special one, Hard Rock Cafe. With over five hundred people on our opening day at Hard Rock, the meeting confirmed itself as the biggest language related event in town. 

In December 2014 we celebrated our First Anniversary with a very special event with live music from a great band named, Cocaine Queen, and lots of specials thanks to Hard Rock Cafe.  

In April 2015 the event moved to J.P. Burger, near Mayakovskaya again, with a flow of four hundred people during every meeting, we occupied the whole second floor and raised some money for the victims of Nepal’s earthquake.

MoscowLEM’s team started new events like “Storytelling” by MoscowLEM that has been paused during summer 2015, and will start two or three new weekly meetings from September.

During the summer the event will go back to Park Gorkogo, and afterwards, we’ll see… 😉

MoscowLEM’s Team

– Juan C. Castresana (Founder)
Olga Anikeeva

MoscowLEM’s Past Team (big thanks to all of you)

– Polina Malinina (Founder)
– Daria Eliseeva
Kristina Shavadze
Cansu Karakaş
Tony J. Skinner
Mo Yassin
Alena Shevelenko



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