Greek dance songs?

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rickryan.com

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I found out my client for this week is greek (bride's family). The entire wedding is a surprise for the bride (she's already married, they're throwing her a surprise reception) so my details are minimal. I did find out that the bride's family is greek and wanted to ask here if you guys have a list of standards (greek circle dance) that you could share? I know I've done some of these before, but I'm not familiar nor remember what I did at that earlier event. Any assistance appreciated.
 

djtaso

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I found out my client for this week is greek (bride's family). The entire wedding is a surprise for the bride (she's already married, they're throwing her a surprise reception) so my details are minimal. I did find out that the bride's family is greek and wanted to ask here if you guys have a list of standards (greek circle dance) that you could share? I know I've done some of these before, but I'm not familiar nor remember what I did at that earlier event. Any assistance appreciated.
I'm probably most qualified for this being that I'm greek and 1/3-1/2 of my events are greek on any given year. Here's the thing, there is no "standards", as it is allbased on what that group is familiar with and which part of greece they're from. Most play something like this to starT:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRwY_aiNqA8
as it is the traditional first greek dance song at weddings which is called a kalamatiano in terms of style... but be cautious, if they're from a certain part of greece like Xios, they do something different for a traditional first dance (bride dances with groom, and then every guest comes up, throws money at the bride, and dances with them... can take 30 minutes depending on number of guests). Now keep in mind... I gave you a song that is 3.5 minutes long... but normally this line dance style is supposed to go on for 10-15 min... meaning you'll need other songs like it... and mixed on beat and on step (there are 12 steps to this dance), otherwise people will be more confused as to what step they're on, rather than enjoying themselves. It was a mistake I made early on, where I only focused on beatmatching, but didnt realize that I needed to time the measures, and with each transition I'd lose people form the circle. now I can keep the circle going for hours if I wanted to. There are other things like a zebekiko which are popular like this one:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1T2AzA-QJc
but it's useless if no one knows how to do it, as it's usually one person dancing solo with others watching, or couples dancing with each other (no steps involved, just freestyle). Another kalamatiano if you need more than one is this
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smzz-3j2pV8
(older style but everyone knows it). There's also Zorba's dance... but I never play that as the slow part has hundreds of different routines, and unless you all know the same exact routine (impossible if you weren't taught it from the same person growing up), it doesn't work. You can also play this, which is super basic and most greeks don't actually do it at weddings anymore, but some do because the steps are super easy for any non greeks to figure out.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzmkB3rj0i4



Here's an example of a wedding with various elements mentioned above:
After the first american dance, they did a traditional first greek line dance which is from their small part of greece... the second line dance at :13 is the normal traditional first greek dance (this is why I say it's important to know which part of greece their from and what their traditions are), at 1:52 is an example of zebekiko. Theres modern greek and some other traditional stuff mixed in, but unless they're the type that frequent greece in the summer, I don't see it being necessary.
 

B-Sharp

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Now keep in mind... I gave you a song that is 3.5 minutes long...
I've grown to like this rendition, if only because it's longer than the version on the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" soundtrack, but not so long that people tire of it. Basically, it buys you another minute while you figure out what to play next. :D


From the same album, (https://www.amazon.com/My-Greek-Wedding-Various-artists/dp/B003WO2KCW), "Simera Gamos Ginete" was requested by one of my Greek couples last year. Maybe it's good, maybe it's terrible... Taso can set us straight.
 

Cap Capello

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I developed a good relationship with the Greek community in our area.I have noticed that every Greek crowd is slightly different from the last one but that's not surprising.

The best advice I can give you to cover the hiney is to grab every track possible by the Trio Bel Canto. Most of their discography will tell you what dance is done to the song they're playing.

Kalamatianos. Hasapiko. Hasapika. Syreeta, just to name a few. I can tell you that most Greek dance events are at least 15 minutes and are specific blends of dance types, one after the other.

One motivational ploy is that when you start a Greek dance set just tell all of the Greek participants that you don't want to see two Greeks holding hands. In other words they should have a non-Greek person in between them in order to teach the non-Greek their traditional dance steps. The more than non-Greeks get into it the better the party.
 
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djtaso

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I've grown to like this rendition, if only because it's longer than the version on the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" soundtrack, but not so long that people tire of it. Basically, it buys you another minute while you figure out what to play next. :D


From the same album, (https://www.amazon.com/My-Greek-Wedding-Various-artists/dp/B003WO2KCW), "Simera Gamos Ginete" was requested by one of my Greek couples last year. Maybe it's good, maybe it's terrible... Taso can set us straight.
Lol I would never play that version personally, but as you can see theres tons of versions out there... if you want to know what I actually use, it's these two:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8lIjxId5tM

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9Ypfw1WYJM


I mention those two... because I go back and forth with male/female vocals and can make it significantly longer... why... because in the traditional greek culture, the first minute or two is supposed to be just bride/groom, parents, and bridal party... and then you invite all the guests. Also, as you can see those two sound much more "livelier" than the more traditional sounding ones and have more excitement, or as we say in greek... "kefi" to them. The first link I gave, it's actually a good medley of popular songs that are already premixed. Many dj's make life easier on themselves by using that so that they don't have to worry about mixing... but if you have a much more modern greek crowd, they'll want something more modern than the traditional. Here's an example of the po po po maria that I use, which you can compare to the more traditional version in my previous post in terms of styles and liveliness... keep in mind, it's actually two songs in one, so the part I'm referencing starts at 2:12.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JOhOzb3yjM


With simera gamos ginete.. there is nothing wrong with that one at all.. but it's a different type of dance. It's considered more of a "ballos" whereas orea pou ine i nifi mas is a kalamatiano. Also, a ballos is not a line dance, it's more of a couples dance... imagine a much slower Bate O Pe in the portuguese culture. As a result, I maybe play it once a year as many people don't actually know the style of that dance... but again you see it at times because when you do a search online for greek wedding songs, it always comes up, despite not being a song that's actually popular to dance to in reality.

I developed a good relationship with a Greek community in our area.I have noticed that every Greek crowd is slightly different from the last one but that's not surprising.

The best advice I can give you to cover the hiney is 2 grab every track possible by the Trio Bel zcanto. Most of their discography will tell you what dance is done to the song they're playing.

Kalamatianos hasapiko syreeta, just to name a few. I can tell you that most Greek dance events are at least 15 minutes and are specific blends of dance types, one after the other.
Trio bel canto is a very popular group and would definitely be appreciated by the older 50+ crowd. There's also a few medleys that can be found by them too, which can make life really easy. Here's one for example... but again you can tell it's older in style and feel.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XN4oPP2ieT0
 

djtaso

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I've grown to like this rendition, if only because it's longer than the version on the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" soundtrack, but not so long that people tire of it. Basically, it buys you another minute while you figure out what to play next. :D


From the same album, (https://www.amazon.com/My-Greek-Wedding-Various-artists/dp/B003WO2KCW), "Simera Gamos Ginete" was requested by one of my Greek couples last year. Maybe it's good, maybe it's terrible... Taso can set us straight.
By the way... I should mention the link you gave... it's not longer... it's a medley of two songs, so the more popular song (orea pou ine i nifi) is actually shorter. It's a completely different song at 2:20. Sorry lol
 
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B-Sharp

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By the way... I should mention the link you gave... it's not longer... it's a medley of two songs, so the more popular song (orea pou ine i nifi) is actually shorter. It's a completely different song at 2:20. Sorry lol
I appreciate this! Like most of us, I'll probably never get hired for a full-on Greek wedding, but I sometimes work for couples where one side of the family is of Greek ancestry... they want a good set of Greek music to start the dancing, and it definitely puts me out of my comfort zone (less so as the couples get younger and the music they want is more modern and online, but still). Any info is helpful, and so few people will take the time to explain the music, rhythms, etc in a way that you just did. I suspect most DJs today would just hope for a flash drive loaded up with every song they need. This is maybe a big "ask", but you should consider doing some short videos that explain these types of things. It's the type of info that people want to find... not just DJs... but Googling "Greek Wedding Music" doesn't get them the right knowledge... it just directs them to mediocre renditions of songs that aren't even the right styles for the celebration.
 

Proformance

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Did they specifically ask for Greek music or Greek dances ?
Before you get too deep into what part of Greece the family hails from - find out just how Americanized the family is. If 89 year old Grandma is the only one in the room with memories of "the old country" then this is not really a Greek wedding.

There's few things worse than a DJ trying to force ethnic music on a group that largely doesn't identify with that origin.
 

Ausumm

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I'm with Bob...
It never hurts to simply ask the client(s) what songs they want.

I'm German, but I wouldn't want my wedding DJ to just play random German OOMPAH songs. (without asking)
 
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steve149

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djtaso

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Did they specifically ask for Greek music or Greek dances ?
Before you get too deep into what part of Greece the family hails from - find out just how Americanized the family is. If 89 year old Grandma is the only one in the room with memories of "the old country" then this is not really a Greek wedding.

There's few things worse than a DJ trying to force ethnic music on a group that largely doesn't identify with that origin.
I really agree with this.
I appreciate this! Like most of us, I'll probably never get hired for a full-on Greek wedding, but I sometimes work for couples where one side of the family is of Greek ancestry... they want a good set of Greek music to start the dancing, and it definitely puts me out of my comfort zone (less so as the couples get younger and the music they want is more modern and online, but still). Any info is helpful, and so few people will take the time to explain the music, rhythms, etc in a way that you just did. I suspect most DJs today would just hope for a flash drive loaded up with every song they need. This is maybe a big "ask", but you should consider doing some short videos that explain these types of things. It's the type of info that people want to find... not just DJs... but Googling "Greek Wedding Music" doesn't get them the right knowledge... it just directs them to mediocre renditions of songs that aren't even the right styles for the celebration.
There's plenty of information out there about the different styles of music... but the challenge is that greek music is TOO diverse and you need to know what to look for. There's no such thing as greek "wedding music"... hardly any songs actually talk about weddings, with exception of 2 or 3... of which only one is normally played... but also because each greek crowd is going to be different based on where they're from in greece. Think of it this way... while in the latin culture there's bachata, salsa, merengue, etc. and depending on which country they're from usually determines which of those you play... the same rule applies in the greek culture... however in the greek culture we have 100's of styles... literally each island (dozens) and each region of mainland greece has different types of styles of dances that are expected. For example, xios has a different set of traditional dances expected, and they normally don't do the generic stuff, crete has a bunch of dances specific to its island, northern greece has it's own style, so on and so forth with every area.

This is why there's so little out there on "greek wedding music"... it just has no meaning in reality and It's just too hard to write generic info for. However, if you ask your bride or relative, what styles do you want (I literally ask that to every greek client), and they name them, and maybe even provide examples of specific songs that their family enjoys... then you can just go on youtube and either find medleys or examples of songs under that style. Or you can just ask me lol. For example, someone on here contacted me once saying a bride said she needs Zebekika and also music from a specific island as well as a couple of current club songs. When you get that info from the client, it's very easy to find what is needed. If they say just the basics... then what I mentioned in my first post is the generic stuff for people that want greek music but dont know what is what themselves. Despite having thousands of songs, knowing the traditions inside out, and knowing what to play when, I still ask every client what traditional songs are popular amongst their direct family, as they all have different preferences based on how they dance. Some literally want a specific version or musician/singer, or else they won't dance to it. I always lead with their choices when playing a certain style, and if more is needed, then I go deeper into my crates.
 

steve149

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I really agree with this.

There's plenty of information out there about the different styles of music... but the challenge is that greek music is TOO diverse and you need to know what to look for. There's no such thing as greek "wedding music"... hardly any songs actually talk about weddings, with exception of 2 or 3... of which only one is normally played... but also because each greek crowd is going to be different based on where they're from in greece. Think of it this way... while in the latin culture there's bachata, salsa, merengue, etc. and depending on which country they're from usually determines which of those you play... the same rule applies in the greek culture... however in the greek culture we have 100's of styles... literally each island (dozens) and each region of mainland greece has different types of styles of dances that are expected. For example, xios has a different set of traditional dances expected, and they normally don't do the generic stuff, crete has a bunch of dances specific to its island, northern greece has it's own style, so on and so forth with every area.

This is why there's so little out there on "greek wedding music"... it just has no meaning in reality and It's just too hard to write generic info for. However, if you ask your bride or relative, what styles do you want (I literally ask that to every greek client), and they name them, and maybe even provide examples of specific songs that their family enjoys... then you can just go on youtube and either find medleys or examples of songs under that style. Or you can just ask me lol. For example, someone on here contacted me once saying a bride said she needs Zebekika and also music from a specific island as well as a couple of current club songs. When you get that info from the client, it's very easy to find what is needed. If they say just the basics... then what I mentioned in my first post is the generic stuff for people that want greek music but dont know what is what themselves. Despite having thousands of songs, knowing the traditions inside out, and knowing what to play when, I still ask every client what traditional songs are popular amongst their direct family, as they all have different preferences based on how they dance. Some literally want a specific version or musician/singer, or else they won't dance to it. I always lead with their choices when playing a certain style, and if more is needed, then I go deeper into my crates.
If I ever get a request for a Greek wedding .. I'm passing it on to you ... :)
 

rickryan.com

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I'm with Bob...
It never hurts to simply ask the client(s) what songs they want.

I'm German, but I wouldn't want my wedding DJ to just play random German OOMPAH songs. (without asking)
This one's a strange situation. The B&G already got married (Covid) and don't even know this is their wedding reception. MOB has arranged it, about 2 weeks ago, and has given the details over to the bride's best friend, who is my only point of contact. I've been getting special song selections from her via text message (she won't fill out the online forms). I'm really not keen on this arrangement but it is what it is. The venue owner is the one who told me the bride's family is greek, hence why I'm asking for material. I have a phone consult with the best friend this evening, but it's quite likely that she is not greek and probably has little or no knowledge of what the family might want. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of consulting with the bride or even her mother.
 
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djtaso

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This one's a strange situation. The B&G already got married (Covid) and don't even know this is their wedding reception. MOB has arranged it, about 2 weeks ago, and has given the details over to the bride's best friend, who is my only point of contact. I've been getting special song selections from her via text message (she won't fill out the online forms). I'm really not keen on this arrangement but it is what it is. The venue owner is the one who told me the bride's family is greek, hence why I'm asking for material. I have a phone consult with the best friend this evening, but it's quite likely that she is not greek and probably has little or no knowledge of what the family might want. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of consulting with the bride or even her mother.
Ask the friend to ask the mom. Or at least tell the friend to tell mom to call you. Like pro said though... they may be greek but kno nothing about greek dancing. More common than youd think.
 
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Proformance

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Generally, their not going to ask you for a Greek dance song unless there's at least one family member present who knows the dance and is able to lead it. Otherwise, it would be incumbent to hire a Greek Emcee or DJ who can lead the dances. This is pretty much the case no matter what the ethnic origin. It would be smart to download whatever Taso and others have recommended, but even then without someone in the family who's got their finger on the pulse - it would be difficult to know when and how to play them.
 

rickryan.com

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Ask the friend to ask the mom. Or at least tell the friend to tell mom to call you. Like pro said though... they may be greek but kno nothing about greek dancing. More common than youd think.
The contact told me "No, they won't be doing the circle dance." I still do have some of the more common greek tracks (from another event) available, in case they change their minds.

I have to tell you, I'm kinda dreading this one. The contact has been a hot mess, very scattered and wants to pick all the songs yet, she won't pick the dang songs! Even the ones she's picked and texted to me, she's changed 3 times each and everything is being sent via SMS (PITA). I had to tell her "Please do not wait until the day of." Fortunately, it's a pretty low-key place and I've already been paid. Just another night in the trenches.
 
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