Bouzoukia is the kind of music we listen to when we're not in clubs or bars. You are xenos, you cannot understand bouzoukia, but I'll try to be your guide.
Ground rules first. The music is live. The name of the band is not important. What is important is who the singer is. A bouzoukia place will usually have a couple of known singers and half a dozen 20-something wannabes, trying to make a career in a dog-eat-dog profession. That's why we call the place skyladiko.
Bouzoukia is not the kind of place where you wear a casual shirt. Every time you go, it's got to be "the" event of the month, so you'd better opt for smart dressing. Or maybe a designer T-shirt, as long as the marka can be read from a distance. After all, we have to look important. I'll explain why.
Bouzoukia is a powerplay. Having the table nearest to the stage contributes greatly to having major fun at this place. The further away you are from the stage, the less important you are. But you won't get a proto trapezi pista just for showing up. There are four ways to get it: Knowing the Maitre d', tipping the Maitre d', looking important, or being plain lucky.
And you can't get yourself a drink at the bar, mate. I mean you can, but that's not what bouzoukia is all about.
A table like that comes with some unwritten obligation. You see the girls standing over you? They are louloudoudes (do the world a favour and don't try to pronounce this out loud) and they sell baskets or trays of flowers. No, they are not flowers for your vase at home.
They are throw flowers. You are meant to throw them to the singer, as a sign of respect.
Free? No, no, no, they are 10 or 15 euros a bunch. And you can't just throw them one by one. The point is in being large about it. You can throw a handful, or a tray, or 5 trays at the same time (yes, you can throw the trays as well).
How else would the bill climb in the few thousands of euros? Drinking alone doesn't quite cut it.
Plates? No, we don't break plates anymore. A few things have changed lately. Onassis was breaking plates; Socrates' mates were breaking amphoras; We break plaka by throwing carnations.
Dancing? Yes, there's dancing, but not before 3. Up until then, you're just warming up. Driking and getting into the kefi. That's why you see us sing to the song, waving arms like crazy and pointing abstractly towards the sky. We've been there. We've done that. We sing along the singer.
Agapo, agapo mia pitsirika, man. It's about an older guy likes a younger girl. I can't be bothered to translate the whole song to you (I left my poetic skills in the car).
Mou ipes psema, psema, psema. You lied to me. No, not you. That's what the song says. We've all been there.
Mou thymizis ti mana mou, gi afto se agapao. Let's leave that one for later, ok?
All the songs in bouzoukia are about love. Kapsourotragouda, essentially. Guy likes girl; girl cheats on boyfriend; guy dumps girlfriend; rich girl finds new magka boyfriend wearing a Gucci dress. The girl is wearing the dress, not the boy. Oh, do try to keep up, will you?
Don't worry, there will be dancing soon. You see, there's a girl over there starting to move her shoulders. Another will start to shake her ass, a third will start dancing on her chair. And in a few minutes, everyone is trying to squeeze themselves on tables full of empty bottles, glasses, peanuts and melted ice.
Sure, you can play with the girls in Bouzoukia. But you'll have to be a real gentleman about it. This is not a pub. You can't just get up, go to their table, and start chatting them up. After all, the music is so loud that it's not very conducive to introductions. You can throw flowers (try to avoid throwing the tray this time) and you can invite them to your table (although you'll probably be squeezing enough as it is).
By the way, try not to show off your way of dancing to the girls. You're not supposed to dance before the zeimbekiko. And it would actually help a lot if I could explain the lyrics to you, just so you know what you're dancing to.
Zorba? No, zeimbekiko is not like Zorba's dance. And you're not anything like Anthony Quinn, so let's leave that for now, ok?
Now, let's throw a few flowers and get into the I'm spending 50 euros per swing mood.