The bouzoukia—flashy night clubs where Greek popular music is performed live—are an essential part of Athenian nightlife. Plate smashing is off the table these days, but dancing on them (and carnation throwing) are still going strong, so don't play hooky from the bouzouki.

By Stavros Dioskouridis

Photo: Thalia Giannakopoulou

A short diversion, if I may. A few years ago, a Greek friend married a Frenchman. The wedding was on the remote island of Donousa and lots of French guests flocked to the ceremony. At the wedding party, there was a live band playing Greek music. Their instruments and voices were completely out of tune and they didn’t know half the lyrics to the songs. Initially, us Greeks found it funny, but as the night wore on, we began to lose our minds. But the French  didn’t stop dancing. I asked one guy why and he said: “I was possessed by Dionysus.”

Photo: Thalia Giannakopoulou

Photo: Thalia Giannakopoulou

Photo: Thalia Giannakopoulou

One time, I was dancing at one of these places when the man behind me asked me to sit down. Annoyed, I told him that we’re not a theatre or at the opera. Next thing I know, he sent over a waiter to tell me that I and everyone I was with better leave or we wouldn’t get out of there alive. I apologised, he slapped me, and that was the end of it. But don’t worry, this is not something that usually happens.

Photo: Thalia Giannakopoulou

Photo: Thalia Giannakopoulou