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traditional/folk dancing in Crete

Still working on my Crete itinerary but I have not gotten very far. The maps of Crete are so detailed and have so much information. Thank you, Janet, for your link to the map site. I am going blind trying to find small places on the National Geographic map. By the time I figure out where things are, I've used up my research time. Now that the rains have started here I will be spending less time in the garden and more time doing my research. Anyway, I digress...

Perhaps what I am looking for is no longer possible but in 1973 we sent to Crete and our first night there just happened on a large restaurant/club where there was traditional Cretan dancing on a stage. Since we are unlikely to be invited to any weddings or other private celebrations during our current stay, is there any chance we could see traditional Cretan dancing on Crete in 2018?

Many thanks!

Posted by
2796 posts

Start with a specific destination, such as Chania, then do a google search for "Greek Night Chania". That should bring up any performances in that town.

Posted by
2416 posts

M.E., yes, things have changed greatly in the last 45 years ... not only in Crete, or Greece, but the world over! Think back... probably back in 1973 Seattle, you'd go to a roller rink, maybe a drive-in movie theatre ... at your local teen "sock hop" they were dancing to Chubby Checkers, or Dick Clark's American Bandstand. The world moves on!

Lee is very astute, you'll find "Greek nights" in many places -- alas, these are usually in very touristic "resort" areas full of package-holiday folks from UK & N. Europe, who want to see dish-smashing and Zorba music; there will be handsome guys in those skirt uniforms and pom-pom shoes (altho those are never worn in Real Greek dancing).

In Chania, if you stay at a small family-run place, best tip is ask the landlord; he may know where authentic dancing/ music if any, can be found. There used to be a swell place down a back street, Kafe Kriti; after 11 pm, old guys with mustachios would play lyra & bouzouki & clarinets, and guys (customers, not professionals) would dance in a line ... Alas the 2008-11 hard times closed it down. But now I hear there’s another place for Greek Folk Music & rembetikia – Adespoto. It’s between Sifaka and Melhisedek, in Maheradika area of Old Town. Two phone #s: Tel 28210 51582, and 6937151394. Ask your hotelier if it's still going & if so, ask him to phone to see if it’s a music night, and have him mark it on your Chania map. I didn't hear anything about group dancing -- but when Greeks get in the mood, it happens.

The BEST authentic dance performances I've been able to attend have been in NAXOS, and in ATHENS. In Naxos, a dance enthusiast discovered there were extensive local dance traditons, but dying out. She recruited village teens, had the elders teach them, and now every summer they give performances weekly in the courtyard of the Kastro (a medieval tower at the top of the town). And the BEST performances of all actally are at the Dora Stratou dance theatre in Athens -- Season runs from late may to early September. A troupe of about 24 incredibly skilled dancers present authentic dances, in authentic costume, from all over Greece - including some electrifying Cretan dances... the guys in those black bloomers & high boots! http://www.grdance.org/en/ -- if you'll be in Athens after crete DON'T MISS IT.

Posted by
39 posts

Thank you Lee for your suggestion. I will definitely look for a Greek night.

Janet - you are an amazing source of information and you pegged the Chubby Checker/American Bandstand era. I love rembetikia .music (although a Greek citizen contemporary referred to it as hilly billy music) and will see if we can locate some old guys with mustaches and musical instruments. Luckily we will be going to both Naxos and Athens on this trip so we will definitely find time to see those performances at the locations you mentioned.

Many thanks!

Posted by
2416 posts

Speaking of GReek dance reminds me of an event in Crete at the height of the nation's economic crisis -- Crete said, things are terrible, so -- Let's DANCE! deciding to set a world record AND to dispell the gloom of national Austerity by forming the world's longest Greek dance line. 150,000 people lined up on the highway between Chania and Rethymnon and danced the traditional step (sirtaki), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-dance/austerity-hit-greeks-dance-for-world-record-idUSTRE6761F320100807