All the Greeks love to dance. The film, “Zorba The Greek” arguably popularized this concept to the rest of the world more than any other. Whether we’re home in the motherland or in any Greek community around the world we’re looking for that special place to go and feel the ambiance and comradery of what makes us feel special. I really don’t think I need to go any further explaining the answer to Greeks, but essentially, we’re culture snobs. We think we have the best culture. Oops! scratch that. We know we have the best culture.
This past Saturday evening I drove out to “City Bar and Grill” right off of City Line Ave. on Haverford Ave. It’s got a Philly address and shopping center like an exterior parking lot. It just opened last month and use to be called “Casablanca’s”. Does that ring a bell? Casablanca was a local Arabic, Greek mixed night club downstairs and Moroccan eatery upstairs. If you could tolerate the smoke and the lousy food than this was what we had as an option in our community. Like a shooting star, it saw it’s day briefly, crashing and burning after a few years. What happened is another story for another time.
But this was a new place. A whole year had been spent, gutting and remodeling before the new owner would reopen. Before I walked in, I noticed the sign outside and above saying “KLUB”. I knew I was in the right place but didn’t really know where to go and what to expect. Is this a club called Klub or a local bar and grill. It’s both said the girls at the door. Upstairs, the general public, sports bar, bar food, you know the drill. Downstairs during the later part of the week, it opens up on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as a party/dance scene.
The talk in the community as of late was that Greeks have been hungry for a bouzouki like a place to go and listen to popular Greek music. The last really popular place for bouzoukia was “Little Pete’s” in Center City, that place closed down years ago. We’re not NY or Chicago, but we have a few spots where we get a flash of this. They are out there. Not many, but certainly between South Jersey and center city Philadelphia you can find them. I’m not going to mention them right now, but I will mention that they work on the DJ concept today. One guy, standing usually behind a wall with a laptop. It works and it fits the budget. But we haven’t had a real Greek Bouzouki like this place for a while.
We Greeks need that. And let’s face it, sterile, formatted one man acts don’t bring the sizzling and atmosphere that the term “LIVE” does. Nope, ain’t no way. And this past Saturday night, local band SEIZMOS (https://seizmosmusic.com) proved it AGAIN. No matter what we do, we Greeks, need live music.
When I walked in, a sparse but very nice bar was visible to my left, while two beautiful Greek women directed traffic downstairs to the right. I immediately, like any other Greek man, smiled and followed directions. I had been here before when it was Casablanca’s, but this time I could see. There was a live band, a full room of people and ok, some smoke. But for the size crowd, which filled the room, it was acceptable. And if it got to be too much, I could go upstairs to the public bar known at City Bar and Grill.
But I was here for Klub or to be in the club. What this place did on this night was rekindle the idea that we have a place to enjoy a bouzouki atmosphere. For more than 5 hours, Seizmos played to a full house of Greeks and Greek wannabees. Money was thrown, the dance floor was always full and the barmaids ran the aisles with drinks.
Some may argue for a larger space, but we Greeks love getting all huggy, touchy and feely with each other. And if anyone felt like singing (which they did), all they had to do was turn their heads and sing along and into the microphone that literally sat just a few feet away.
The band was so close to the dancing that you couldn’t tell where the musicians and dancers separated. Now that’s cutting it close. but like I said, it was fun and we Greeks don’t mind it a bit. We want to feel alive and be part of the music we love. You can’t separate the two and this night echoed that idea. And as for the smoke, it wouldn’t be a Greek bouzouki night without it.
By 4:00 am, I had had my fill and bid City bar and Grill a good morning. Let’s hope bouzouki nights become a regular treat for us Greeks.
Congratulations to City Bar and Grill on their launch. May they have many wonderful Greek nights and folks, please remember to patronize our Greek businesses.