Dancing and Cooking like a Greek

From my experience so far, cooking and dancing are two of Greece’s favourite past-times. It therefore seemed rather fitting that we would learn how (or at least try) to cook and dance like a Greek during our time in Syros. First up: dancing! We hopped on a bus and headed to a local school to be taught some moves. I was looking forward to being able to dazzle Vicky’s family with my fancy footwork at their next big family get together.

We started off with a few basic routines. Link hands, form a circle… and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 …  and repeat.

Learning to Dance Syros Greece

The picture is not the best – but you get the picture. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, it ain’t. In the Kalamatiano (a dance that coincidentally comes from Kalamata, where Vicky’s family is from), your feet have to cross each other in a certain pattern: in front, behind, in front, in front, in front, to the side – or something like that.  I had real difficulty getting used to this and kept bumping into the people next to me.

Learning to Dance Syros Greece

And then it was time for some of the more complicated dances. Some of the girls from the dancing school gave us a quick demo of the Hasápiko:

Dance Lessons Syros Greece

Learning to Dance Syros Greece

Again, when you look at a couple of photos, the moves don’t look that complicated. But when you put them all together and have to remember them in the right order and dance in time with the music, it all becomes rather tricky… Then there’s Zeibékiko, a dance for real men – It’s a solo routine that men dance to shake off their sorrows (usually women-related), and even though girls dance it today as well, it’s a pretty manly affair. It doesn’t really have specific steps – it mostly involves you swilring around looking drunk, from what I gathered :-). To give you a better idea of the kind of moves you have to combine, take a look at this:

Dancing GIF

Hmm. I really didn’t seem to be making much progress. But as the language course progressed we got several more chances to strut our stuff. We went to the local bars to dance and had a couple of live music nights at the school, including traditional drums and bagpipes from the Cyclades:

Bagpipes drums traditional music syros

which of course gave the class a great excuse to get up and have a dance

Greek dancing Syros

and me a great excuse to take some photos. I did in fact join in sometimes but I can’t say that I learnt many moves. What I can say though, is that my ability to hold hands and bob around in a circle came on in leaps and bounds!

Cooking, on the other hand, is something which I like to at least think I know a little about. I spent most of my teenage years working in kitchens and restaurants and I do most of the cooking at home because I enjoy it. One night the class was given the chance to make soutzoukakia, a traditional dish that is a cross between a meatball and a burger.

Everyone gathered around to listen intently as we were given instructions (in Greek of course)…

Cooking in Syros

And then we set to work peeling and chopping,

Preparing Soutzoukakia Syros Greece Vardakeios School

mixing and moulding,

Preparing Soutzoukakia Syros Greece Vardakeios School

Preparing Soutzoukakia Syros Greece Vardakeios School

before frying the soutzoukakia in olive oil (what else?)

Preparing Soutzoukakia Syros Greece Vardakeios School

I even got a chance to help out with the accompaniment – my  tomato chopping skills came in particularly handy.


Preparing Soutzoukakia Syros Greece Vardakeios School

Learning how to cook a new Greek dish (I’ve learned a few in Freiburg already!) was quite a success – and it was really tasty! As for my dancing, it will be a while yet before I manage to dazzle the Greeks!

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