Monday, 31 October 2005
I love Greek music. I do not know what it is in those old songs I specially like, because I still do not understand all the words. But Greek songs go straight to my heart. In Holland they would be called tear-jerkers but I assure you that the sound of a bouzoukia (Greek guitar-like instrument) goes deeper than the best Dutch tear-jerker song ever.
My evening is good whenever there is dancing besides the music. In Greece weddings, parties and dinners can all turn spontaneously into a big dancing party. It is more than often that the music is played so loud that there is nothing else to do than to listen to the music and to watch the dancers. I do not mind, but sometimes there are parties when it is pretty irritating that the sound is so loud that it is hard to chat with your neighbour and even impossible to talk to the person opposite you. The Greeks never seem to mind. They sing and clap enthusiastically with the music, they carefully spot all people in the party and they love to show how good they dance.
In my earlier years I was crazy with the bouzoukia. That is not only a musical instrument but it is also the name of a nightclub where Greek singers perform until early in the morning. Sometimes the people there go that wild that plates will fly over your head.
Not because there was a fight. In earlier times when you were happy because your friend danced well, or the singer was beautiful or she brought you to tears with her song, you could order a pile of plates and smash them into pieces on the dance floor. Nowadays they do it with flowers, which is less spectacular. And I miss the crackling sound of the broken pieces under the shoes.
Now I am a little older and I do not know anymore the art of getting the magic of those long and late nights at the bouzoukia. How the Greeks do it, I do not know, but for sure at one o'clock I mostly go in the direction of my bed and not to the bouzoukia. Also there is no bouzoukia place near Molyvos. The local music bar in the Harbour Street is kind of small, although a band with singers as well as a public do get in easily. They will not see their beds before four o'clock in the morning.
I did visit the music bar once and since then I intended to go there more, but until now I have not been back there. That does not matter because I have enough parties where there is music and dancing. Sometimes it even happens during dinner in a small restaurant that people start dancing in between the tables, like happened in Stipsi where we ate last week.
Some parties have a disc jockey who alternates English music and Greek music. Then plenty of people will enter the dance floor and the now so popular simultaneous dancing is nothing compared to this. The handkerchief is flying through the air and it will rain flowers on the dancers. Sometimes somebody does a breathtaking solo dance, like the groom at the last wedding we visited. He danced alone and happy around a glass of ouzo, as a last farewell to his life as a bachelor. There are times that it is the grandparents who will make the show. When they enter the dance floor it is as if they totally forgot their age and their stiff bones.
Greek dances come form the heart and not from the legs. That is why they often can be pretty touching. And sometimes they are hilarious. On the island of Samos I used to know a Yannis who with his mouth tilted a little table in the air and danced around with it. Last week we were on a Dimitri dinner party (It was Dimitris Day) and there was a man who first tried to put a glass on his head, then he stood up with a bottle on his head and finally he put a vase with flowers on his head, walked slowly to the dance floor and did a pretty amazing dance act.
I will not easily learn Greek dancing and I am sure that I will never dance with a vase of flowers on my head. For the people who do like to try this at home I have one tip: you need a bald patch on your head and before you place an object there be sure that you wet the surface of your head and the surface of the object with some spittle. I am sure you will be successful!
For the ones who like to try to dance with a table in their mouth I have no advice. I could barely believe my eyes when I saw it happen. I will not compensate for new dentures nor will I compensate for a new vase with or without flowers!
Copyright © Smitaki 2005