Previously, I published the post, “Hartoura – The Art of Throwing”, where I discussed the different styles of throwing “tips” on Greek bands or someone dancing, especially if dancing a zembekiko. The response was unbelievable. I received so many e-mails from people who recognized the different styles and people would just come up to me at affairs and point out the different styles. Also, since the blog was published, I have attended several affairs and I noticed some styles that I missed, so I thought it was a time to update the blog, hence… “Son of Hartoura! – The Art of Throwing II.”
Think about this custom. It is strange to the non-Greeks. I have attempted to explain this to my non-Greek friends and they look at me like I have grapevines growing out of my head! They ask, “You mean you go to a wedding, give a gift, hear a song and just decide to throw your money away?” My answer is simply “Yes, what’s your point? It’s tradition!” Who knows what the true reason for this tradition is – for good-luck, requesting a song, etc., but it has been done for a long time and seems to be entrenched in the Greek psyche. Here are some of the new ones I have witnessed:
In my previous blog, I mentioned “The Shuffle.” There the thrower holds a stack of money flat on their palm and with the other hand shuffles each one. At a recent baptism I saw a form of the Shuffle. It was the “Gatling Gun.” A woman shuffled the dollar bills so fast it looked like a Gatling gun shooting. Of course, if you use 20 bills, then it is known as the “Machine Gun.”
Another new one that I witnessed, and I can’t believe I’ve never seen this one before, is the “Double Straight” or “Double In and Out.” If you remember, the “Straight” is the most common where the person comes in, throws the money in the air and walks away. The Double Straight comes in when two people throw the money at the same time, providing the spectators with a stereo effect! The Double Straight can be a premeditated conspiracy, where the perpetrators act in concert, or, it’s just a coincidence, but in either case, it looks great.
On a recent trip to Ohio for a cousin’s wedding, there were entirely different methods used. This was a whole new area of the Art of Throwing. I guess the mid-west Greeks are a little different from the east coast Greeks. There was the “Hand-off” where the tipster simply hands the money to the musician, as he is playing out in the middle of the dance floor. This should also be known as the “Anti-Stuffer” since the musician did not have any shirt pockets or jacket to stuff the money in. There is a lesson there for musicians to remember… have pockets!
Another is the “Street Musician.” Here, the lead person in a dance line will throw down a tip near the feet of the musicians, or in the opened instrument case, like a street musician. This is also known as the “Anonymous Donor,” since the person usually throws down the money quickly without anyone seeing the amount. Commonly, it’s a $10 or $20 bill, not $1 bills.
I have also seen the “Wet-ones.” This refers to people dancing zembekiko and placing a glass full of the strongest drink they can find on the dance floor and the dancer drinking it, usually spilling it all over the hartoura that is on the floor. It is always humorous to watch the face of the bank teller when depositing or converting the Wet-ones the next day, which usually smell like Ouzo or Johnny Walker.
We have discussed the different types of tipping, but I have a duty to inform the Greek dancing public of some of the “No-No Rules” when it comes to tips. Never-ever-ever-ever violate any of these rules or the band will give you the evil eye.
First, there is the “Environmentalist” a/k/a “Re-Throwers.” They are the ones who have not contributed to the pile of hartoura but insist on grabbing a hand-full of money off the ground and “recycle” the money or “re-throw” it. Boys and girls, this is simply not good form.
Second, there is the “Keep Your Children In Line.” Here, you allow small children to run in between lines of dancers and pick up the money and throw it around or put it in their pocket. We love children, but it’s irritating, not cute and do you really want your children touching all that dirty money!
Third is the “Imitator,” where someone takes a stack of paper napkins, usually small drink napkins, or any other non-monetary items, and throws it into the air. You have seen these people. They want to be part of the experience but they have long pockets and short hands!! People…we all know the napkins are not money and in the end, it makes a mess!
Finally, there is the “Dollar Per Song.” A person will walk up to the singer and request a song and place money in the singer’s pocket. After the song is performed and the singer takes out the money he sees it’s only a $1.00 bill. Not good at all. For a dollar you don’t even get the first verse of the song!
Ahhhh, Greeks. Don’t you just love them! So next time you’re at a Greek affair and money is suddenly fluttering through the air… try to figure out the method, or if it is something new, let us know. Opa!
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