As I mentioned, we were at our Athenian restaurant for at least a couple of hours, if not more. Like us, our fellow diners were enjoying wine with their meals and they were all on a friendly basis. Under the influence of wine, music and fellowship, the volume of chatter and laughter grew until suddenly a woman got up and started to dance.
There was no formal dance floor on the patio, just an open space between the musicians and the tables for the waiters to move through. The music was traditional Greek music and from what I could tell the movements the woman was doing were from traditional dances. If you’ve ever seen the movie Zorba the Greek you’ll know what I mean. She swayed, raised her arms and snapped her fingers in time to the music, or lifted her hands above her head and clapped. All the while the other diners hooted, whistled, cheered or clapped along.
After a bit another woman stood up and joined the first one in front of the musicians. They danced alone, but with each other, doing the same sort of movements. The volume of sound from the audience rose. The piece ended and the first woman sat down with a bow, amid much warm approval. When the musicians began the next piece, another woman went up on the ‘stage’.
As the women danced, the musicians nodded and smiled their approval. They didn’t seem to be at all surprised, so this may have been a regular occurrence. Ouzo replaced retsina at a few of the tables and some of the people called out suggestions. At least, I think they were suggestions, because suddenly people were standing up beside their tables and dancing where they stood. Evidently they were being dared by their fellow diners.
Not that anyone seemed to mind. These folks were simply in a party mood. Their spontaneous dancing made our accidental choice of restaurant one of the best evenings we would have on our holiday. None of the locals seemed to mind that there were two tourists sitting quietly in the back, all agog at the spectacle before us.
Along with our Mycenae tour we had booked an ‘evening in Athens’ dinner tour for the next evening, but we cancelled it when we got back to the hotel. Why bother with a staged event, when we’d been privileged to participate in an expression of joy at a friendly neighbourhood taverna?