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How to Greek Dance

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Remember when you were little and your parents or your Greek School teacher would tell you to learn how to Greek Dance and you'd never listened, thinking to yourself, "Greek dancing's stupid.  Why would I ever want to go around and around and around in circles like that?"  Now flash forward to your early twenties when you suddenly found yourself not knowing a zembekiko from a zebra.  When this happened, you had three options; either you learned how to Greek Dance, you found something else to compensate for your lack of knowledge of Greek Dancing, or you just accepted the fact that you'd never find that Greek girl/guy of your dreams because you couldn't count out 1-2-3-kick without moving your lips.  It's like your mama always said, "Greek girls/guys won't give you the time of day if you can't Greek dance."  Maybe your mama was over- exaggerating, but in any event, if you fear that the Kalamatiano of life is passing you by, don't worry, because we present to you, How to Greek Dance, How to Fake It, or How to Get by Without It!

Knowing Greek Dancing, or at least being able to fake your way through it, is important because the few occasions you'll have throughout the year where there will be a lot of Greek people, especially Greek people you've never met before, will involve Greek dancing.  Greek dancing may be your only opportunity to meet that girl or guy that you'd never be able to get a chance to talk to in any other circumstance because you'd have to get through the girl's cousins or the guy's parea that normally encircle them.  Greek dancing is a free-for-all experience where you can suddenly find yourself in line next to girl/guy of your dreams either on purpose or completely by accident.  How you end up there usually depends on if you're a guy or a girl.  If you're a guy you find a way to get into a line next to that girl which sometimes involves more line transfers than your morning Metro ride.  If you're a girl, you're dragging the guy who's sitting down at a table out onto the dance floor -- a bold move, but we've seen it pulled off successfully on a number of occasions.  Once you're out there dancing with them, if you can survive a Kalamatiano medley without stepping on them, you might have a shot of meeting them once the music stops.  If you're a decent Greek dancer, you may be able to talk to them while you are actually dancing.  But unless you're really good, the place to be is behind them, because the rest of the line doesn't like that guy/girl who derails the Hasaposerviko Express by running into the person in front of them because they weren't paying attention to where they were going.

Kalamatiano... If you don't know this one, you're pretty much on your own.

 

The Happy Line:  The way a Greek dance line should look.

So you've gotten in a Greek dance line, what do you do?  Stick to the basics.  In DC, the basics are Kalamatiano, Tsamiko and Hasaposerviko.  If you're a beginner, try if at all possible to get to the middle of a line.  Don't ever go to the beginning of the line because you're going to be expected to lead.  If you somehow find yourself at the beginning of the line, steer the line to the outside of the dance floor, and get in a holding pattern just long enough for a more experienced dancer to come and relieve you.  Avoid the always dangerous drunk centipede path of destruction, where you start crossing under other dance lines, your own dance line, the band's equipment, and other places that will result in the loss of segments from your line.  

Look out!  It's The Drunk Centipede!

Also avoid the very end of the line -- you just look like a complete tool with your arm all flailing about unconnected; it's also the easiest place for someone you wouldn't want to be dancing with to latch on in the middle of a song.  If you've gotten to the middle of a line, then basically just follow along and make sure at the very least that you're going in the same direction as the rest of the line.  You can fake your footwork at most Greek dances and for the most part no one will mind or notice.  Just as long as you don't step on anyone, either in your own line, or the line in front of you or behind you, you should be fine. 

Now if you've been paying attention, you'll notice that we've strictly been talking about Greek line-dancing to this point.  There are two main dances that aren't in a line, the zembekiko, tailored to the fellas, and the tsifteteli, a chance for the ladies to show off their moves.  If you're a guy and a zembekiko is playing and you're not very good, this might be a chance to go get a drink.  Come back toward the end of the song and then plop down on one knee and start clapping for the other guy who will be surrounded by the rest of the girls and the guys who have already been up.  Like playing spin the bottle at your Greek cousin's house, hopefully your turn won't come around.  The guy's part during a tsifteteli is easy -- just sit there and clap or snap your fingers approvingly as the girl you're dancing with/staring at goes to work.  Ladies, I don't think a girl has ever gotten a lower score because of a poor tsifteteli performance -- it's like the salad that comes with your soulvaki platter -- bonus.

So you've read our helpful hints, you've followed our easy to follow instructions, but you still can't Greek dance, then what?  If you're a guy, make up an injury.  Remind girls of the time you scored 40 in a GOYA basketball game and blew out your knee on the game winning shot.  Actually we knew guys back in the day who were with really great Greek girls whose athletic ability and time in the gym more than made up for their lack of coordination on the dance floor.  If you're not the largest guy in the world, consider buying a new car -- General Motors is currently offering 0.0% APR for 36 months on all new cars, so there's no better time to buy.  If you're a girl and you can't Greek dance, don't worry, because they'll be plenty of guys on the sidelines who can't or won't Greek dance and will be happy that you don't equate a guy's Greek dancing ability with the size of his… tsarouhia.  (That's the wooden shoes with the pom-poms, for any of you out there who can't speak Greek.)

Read past feature articles.