My SymiChristosKantirimi Nights: an unspoilt example of Greekness 25/01/2008, 03:06

It’s the highlight of the Symi week… Saturday nights are Kantirimi nights!

Music in Greece is part of everyone’s daily life to such an extent that it’s possibly the number one attribute of what it means to be Greek. It is not just living in Greece or even speaking the language, but also being able to understand the words and feel the music deep in your bones. A detailed look at the history of Greek music in the past one hundred years is enough to point to the major events in political and everyday life in Greece.

There may be no other country (at least not in the West) with its own traditional music that outclasses in popularity any foreign sound of any kind. But it’s not just the diversity of the sound and the poetry of the lyrics… Greek music has this unique way of bringing people of all generations together. Every occasion and every event (happy or otherwise) in public or personal life is inadvertently linked to a tune, a song and a dance.

The type of music you can hear at Kantirimi on a Saturday night is Rembetika and Laika mainly from the 40s, 50s, 60s, decades marked by political struggle against the monarchy and the right-wing establishment engineered by America and Britain. Many songs were banned at the time and others were sung with “alternative” lyrics.

People gathered in small bars and tavernas in the slums of Athens and Piraeus to listen, sing and dance their problems away with a zeibekiko or a hasapiko dance.

This carries on today, with a plethora of such places all over Greece. Symi has its own venue dedicated to preserving and continuing this tradition.

To get a glimpse of real Greek entertainment have a look at the videos in this blog taken last Saturday and the many others that SymiGreece publishes on a regular basis. Next time you are on Symi, come to Kantirimi any Saturday night to see for yourselves an unspoilt example of Greekness.

You won’t find many foreigners as, apart from a few enlightened non-Greek residents, most of the ex-pats stay clear of anything that involves interacting with Greek culture to any appreciable depth.

Despite it being caricatured and degraded by many foreigners as “Zorba” or “plate-smashing” music, it doesn’t take much to get to the truth of what Greek music is all about. Nontas (voice and guitar), Lefteris (bouzouki and voice) and Kostas (accordion and violin) will show you the way...


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