athens: places to go when you’re bored

Posted on February 4, 2006

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bouzoukia.jpg

by seawitch

The first time I was asked if I’d ever been to ‘bouzoukia‘, I thought they were talking about a geographical place in Greece. When I was informed that they were actually Greek night clubs with live entertainment, it was only a matter of minutes before I morphed into Party Girl and was on my way to a Greek night out.

If you’ve got money and enjoy the performer’s music, you can have a lot of fun. Although, I’ve always felt claustrophic in them, I do enjoy watching the ‘shows’ in the audience as well as the one on stage.

The Cost
When I went to see Giannis Ploutarchos (a popular Greek singer whose face adorns Greek secretaries’ screensavers everywhere), we paid the mandatory 200€ for a bottle of whiskey. Since there were four of us in attendance, that worked out to 50€ per person. And because I don’t drink whiskey, I shelled out more money to have my preferred poison, Kahlua, brought to the table. Granted, I would probably have paid the 50€ for a ticket to see Ploutarchos anyway because I do enjoy his music so I can’t say I was too put out by that cost. For second-rate singers I’ve seen, even 25€ per person is too much.

Next come the flowers. Trays and trays of stemless carnations are sold to the patrons for about 15€ each so we can throw them on the stage only to be swept off minutes later by a stagehand. One patron in front of me spent, by my count, 1500€ on them. Most tables buy at least 5 trays and since the patrons are packed in the clubs like sardines, it doesn’t take long before you start to wonder where all these flowers are grown. I’ve never seen fields of carnations on any of my travels in Greece so I figure there must be some uncharted island which is home to nothing but carnation fields to support such a popular industry.

The Dancing
There is no dance floor…there’s hardly enough room for the waiters and flower girls to pass between the tables let alone dance. Many women resort to jumping on the tables to dance. I always laugh when this happens because they’re usually wearing high heels and mini skirts. Too many times I’ve seen these Glamazons keel over backwards while trying to maintain some sense of modesty by pulling down their mini skirts as they try to navigate through the dozens of bottles, flowers and glasses on the tables. Just a suggestion ladies, if you’re embarrassed about your dresses rising too far up your thighs, maybe you shouldn’t be on the table in the first place.

If you’re not a table dancer, then there’s always the stage. I like this part of the evening because no other night club I’ve ever been in allows patrons to be on stage with the performer at the same time. I’m quite amazed that anyone can actually sing while being pawed by dozens of inebriated or overly-infatuated women. Now I understand why some bouzouki singers make upwards of 20,000€ per night. It’s truly a talent.

The Verdict
After all is said and done, I still prefer dance clubs to bouzoukia. I like huge dance floors and the fact that I don’t have to spend an hour trying to fight my way the 20 metres to the stage and where the cover charge won’t mean my financial ruination. But you can’t say you’ve had a night out on the Greek town if you haven’t been to bouzoukia so pick a singer you like, find out where he or she performs, and try it out if you’re not claustrophobic and allergic to flowers.

Posted in: athens, where to go