By Iro Theophanides
In the latest issue of ‘Time’ magazine an extensive report is written about the provoking lifestyle’s some “privileged” Greeks follow (mainly tax evaders). Their correspondent in Greece say’s that even though Athens is in a very difficult situation at the moment, the Athenians are not settling down. Further on, he concludes by saying that the Greeks will always find ways in order to have a good time.
More extensively the article states:
The time is about to 2 a.m. in the exclusive Athenian suburb of Glyfada, where a sea front bouzouki club called Thalassa is at last getting going. During the evening luxurious cars are driven in and parked for all to see. The star of the night is the queen of Greek pop, 40-year old Despina Vandi, who sings on stage. The minimum cost of admission is a bottle of whisky per table witch automatically leads to around €170, about $200.
If only for one night, Greeks can still spend big. However, reality is much different. Greece is drowning in debt, and the government is forced to ask Europe for help whilst they are forcing a range of cuts, conveying the citizens in to an outrage and onto the streets.
A 28 years old bouzouki regular, Giorgos Papadopoulos used to go to these clubs at least four times a month, but in April he lost his job. “A month ago I had €2,500 ($3,000), now all I’ve got is this,” he says, pulling €5 out of his pocket. “I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow.”
As for tonight he can’t afford a table, so he is standing in the back. Then again, he has no regrets he says about spending his money on tables and entertainment and knows that it’s this manner that got Greece into this situation in the first place. “It’s because we do not save, whatever we have we spend,” he says.
A bouzouki veteran, Giorgos Marinis, with 25 year in entertainment and the stage explains that the clubs go back to the 1950s, at the time where Greece was still underprivileged. It was the people’s gateway, a place to show their wealth and seal deals. “It’s something that’s so basic,” he says of singing and celebration. “It’s just central to the Greek soul.”
During the 1990s, clubs expanded and the shows became more refined featuring pop megastars of the time. The economy was booming. But now the bill must be paid. The government tries to back up the states coffers by hunting down tax evaders and shedding light on to the entertainment world. 57 doctors have been named and shamed for not paying their taxes, and now the ministry has turned its head towards high-profile entertainers and celebrities.
Very recently, on May 17, Greece’s deputy culture and tourism minister, a former actress named Angela Gerekou, resigned when a newspaper stated that her husband, singer and former bouzouki star Tolis Voskopoulos, owed the state €5.5 milion ($7 million) in unpaid taxes.
Nevertheless, the recession has also affected Greece’s night life. Clubs such as Thalassa are open only on weekends as opposed to seven nights a week. But, Athanasia Panagopoulos, who sings along with popstar Vandi say’s that Greeks will always find ways to have fun. “People still need to live their lives beautifully,” she says.
Link to the Time’s Article: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1991217,00.html