How To Be Greek For An Entire Weekend
Easter has passed and with it Greek life in DC has returned. It's springtime in DC, the weather is warmer, the days are getting longer, and the possibilities to do something Greek have returned. The area's churches and the YALs can now return to sponsoring events giving Greeks some things to do during the daylight hours. It is now possible on most weekends to get as much or as little exposure to your fellow Hellenes and Philhellenes as you desire. For you ambitious souls out there that would like to spend your whole day, or even better your whole weekend, hanging out with Greeks, DCGreeks.com presents you with our guide to: "How To Be Greek For An Entire Weekend."
The great thing about our guide to being Greek for a entire weekend is that there's no right way to go about jam-packing your weekend with Greek events. There are certain ingredients that must be there for certain, but how you combine these ingredients is up to you.
The Greek Festival. Greek Festivals are perhaps the purest form of Greek entertainment and fellowship you can get in this area. As going to any church for Easter would have shown you, being Greek is all about spending time with your extended Greek "family." Sure, there are a lot of young adults at most Greek festivals, behind the gyro stand and in line in front of the stand, but there are plenty of older Greeks and children running around to make this a truly unique time.
Greek Festivals also attract the one thing that you don't find a majority of at other Greek events: Philhellenes. It's classic Greek
philoxenia at its best, when a community can welcome non-Greeks for food, music and dancing. Most Philhellenes will admit that they are just there for the food, but can you blame them? The church in Richmond, VA has made a killing from a terribly efficient drive-thru system. (Honestly, you sometimes can't believe that it's Greeks running this so smoothly.) We saw St. George adopt this drive-thru system last year as well, so hopefully the DC area churches will be able to follow the ingenuity of the Greeks in Richmond. True, the gyro and souvlaki at Greek Festivals will be the same gyro and souvlaki you'll find at most Greek diners, but where else are you going to find loukoumades? A friend of ours from high school has been to St. Katherine's Greek Festival on repeated occasions just for the loukoumades, which he refers to as "Golden Goodness." Yet for the best in traditional Greek cuisine, you have to visit the inside hall at most festivals, where more often than not it's the Ladies' Philoptochos of the church selling full dinners. Granted it's not as convenient as a gyro or souvlaki, it's a little bit more expensive, and yes, you'll have to find a seat and a few minutes to eat a huge piece of pastichio or moussaka with a knife and fork, but it's well worth taking the time to do it.
The entertainment at a Greek festival will almost always consist of a live band, with the occasional DJ playing tracks at the smaller festivals. But regardless, the music will always be laika, the classics our parents grew up listening to back in the day. It's funny when you're sitting there at your desk on a Monday morning with "Maria me ta Kitrina" stuck in your head from hearing it at least twice during a weekend in May or June. (When this happens every Monday morning for a month, maybe its time to take a break from the festivals on Sunday nights, or learn another song to get stuck in your head.)
Now Greek festivals are different depending on which night you attend. Most Greek festivals in the DC area will feature mostly Philhellenes on Friday nights stopping in after work or happy hour to grab dinner, a good balance of Greeks and Philhellenes on Saturday (usually the busiest day of most festivals), and then mostly Greeks on Sunday. Of course the Greeks don't show up until at least 5:30 on the afternoons that they do come.
So if you're planning on having an entirely Greek weekend, you almost certainly must include a few hours at a Greek Festival. That's the good thing about Greek festivals though, because you can come and go at anytime and always know that there is going to be a good crowd when you get there. Also you can go to the same festival two or even three days in a row and see an entirely new set of people. Greek festivals also give you something to do on a Sunday night that won't have you bombed for work on Monday morning. (But be warned, you may have "Maria me ta Kitrina" stuck in your head. Ok, raise your hand if you now have "Maria me ta Kitrina" stuck in your head.)
The YAL event. Springtime is a great time for YAL events. With the weather being warmer, there are two directions that most YALs will choose, either the Friday night happy hour at a place with outdoor seating, or the Saturday day trip or outing. If the YAL's sponsor church isn't having a festival that weekend, then there is the possibility of scheduling an outing for Greeks that isn't necessarily all that Greek. St. Sophia's YAL has been the master of this in the DC area for a while. They just know how to take advantage of all the cool things there are to do in the DC area during nice weather. Last month, they sponsored a bike ride on the trail linking Georgetown to Bethesda and there were talks of doing it again later on in the spring. On May 18th, they're sponsoring a
horseback riding outing in Virginia horse country followed by a tour of a winery. While an event like this may require you to wake up before noon on a Saturday, it is well worth it, especially for a chance to hang out with your fellow Greeks where it isn't dark, loud, smoky or at a place where you're going to hear, "Maria me ta Kitrina." If you're planning on making a day of it outdoors, a YAL event segues nicely into a Greek festival on most weekends.
The Greek Night. Even Greek Nights get better when the weather is nicer during the Spring. First of all, you can wear a lot more of less when the nighttime temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. (After a long winter, people are tired of seeing you in your three Greek Night outfits which look the same anyway.) You don't need the leather jacket or full length coat for warmth, and the money you save on coat check can go toward making you warm with another drink or a shot. If you're a guy, as long as you find some place to put your cell phone and wallet, then hey, short sleeves, long sleeves, it's all good. Regardless of what you wear, it's nice when a Greek Night is held at a club where there's at least some standing room outside. While Pangea could get overcrowded inside during the winter, it was a perfectly good venue for a Greek night during the spring and summer. If you're going to a Greek Night, you'll probably want to go home and change first, unless you've found that perfect outfit that you can wear at both a Greek festival and a Greek Night, and if you weren't either standing too close to the gyro or souvlaki booth, or if you weren't sweating from dancing too long to "Maria me ta Kitrina."
We'd like to take a quick side note to make a plug for an event this Saturday night that promises to be something special. Sts. Constantine & Helen is having their
Church Dinner/Dance at the Four Points Sheraton in DC. Members of their
Parish Council asked DJ Pete Moutso to bring this event into the 21st century and make it more appealing to the young adults of the community. The result is the booking of the Mylos Allstar Band and DJ Savas from New York. Many of you may remember them from Panorama and Asteria Productions' OXI Day Greek Night at The Spot back in October. It's also a hotel dance which is rare to see during the spring, and at only $15 for the dance after 9:00, it's not any more expensive than a upscale Greek Night. The truly great thing about this event is that it's the first event we've seen in a long time with the sponsorship and support of every major young adult Greek entertainment and social network in the DC area. While healthy competition is good when it's a for-profit event, it's nice to see everyone coming together to support a church fundraiser.
Regardless of if it's this weekend or some other weekend this spring, know that there is probably something Greek going on in the DC area and that you have a lot of choices as to how much time you want to spend around Greeks and what you'd like to be doing with them.
past feature articles.