Mykonos: the beat goes on

Από την/τον Christina Politi | 9 Αυγούστου 2016

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One of the world’s most tolerant islands is winning the battle to reclaim its cool vibe from the rampant ambitions of nouveau riche wannabes. Mykonos is like a vampire. And the most beautiful one in the world, at that. It mesmerizes you, gets you hooked and keeps you en- slaved forever. Yet, despite its supernatural powers, the island is barely hanging on, fighting tooth and nail, trying to survive the onslaught of construction. The half-built shells of bankrupt wan- nabes have blighted its beaches; lovely stretches of its coast have been ravaged by concrete ambitions; villas occupy once beautiful rocky landscapes and reed lined streams. Rapid and unplanned development have erased the dirt roads and the rock ‘n’ roll vibe of an island that, until 20 years ago could only be navigated by four-wheel drive or dune buggy.

I’ve been visiting this island for 35 years; the first time I saw its port gleaming like a swirl of Chantilly cream, I knew I had come to the most beautiful place on Earth. Of course, even then the old guard of the jet set and of Greek high society had already started to whine about change, just as I’m doing now. But all these years later, what hasn’t altered is the feeling this place evokes. And just when you start to think that maybe the throngs and the high prices are getting the upper hand, the island throws them a curveball.

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Even in the throes of the crisis, Mykonos remains in a league of its own.

As a holiday island widely considered the most tolerant in Greece, it has seen it all. The Mykonians have always been cool, which is why things like nudism and a vibrant gay community ourished without raising an eyebrow. Somehow, in a parallel universe of picturesque alleyways that were once pi- ously whitewashed on a regular basis, good crazy became a comfortable fit. Maybe the secret lies in the energy from Delos, but the simple fact is that, as soon as you step foot on the island, you feel different. Bright, easy to get around and with welcoming sunrises and sunsets, the island intensifies emotions, both good and bad. Anything goes. And no one ever gets tired in Mykonos, the island that never sleeps.

The past is impossible to escape. Where Vengera – a legendary bar and now home to a Kessaris jewelry store – once stood, the heart pitter-patters with memories of wild nights. Can you turn back time, back to that beautiful, exotic party crowd that you could only nd on Mykonos? Apparently not. Today, it’s just humdrum faces staring blankly around Aroma, formerly a bar called Nectar, where Penthouse models in cowboy boots and hippy-style kaftans once danced with Greek playboys from good families.

Today’s crowd is made up of regular people, poseurs and second rate celebrities hoping to get their photograph in a gossip rag. They drag their bored selves around the overly lit streets of the Matoyianni district, now lled with shops selling everything from nice clothing to nonsense. In the 1980s, if you walked through here after ve in the morning, the streets were lled with broken beer bottles. Back then, for a night out, you’d throw on gypsy skirts and neo romantic shirts, sandals or cowboy boots and big-buckled belts. By the time you’d parked, you’d have seen Donald Sutherland pass by. You’d go to the Ibiza Bar to catch a glimpse of Ba- bis Pasaoglou, who looked like a native American.

Babis is the last of the Mohicans of the Mykonos club scene. Back in 1987, he got celebrity designer Minas to make him the most beautiful bar in the world, with star-studded ceiling and a luxury hippy vibe. That bar, Astra, has now evolved into a see-and-be-seen spot for the jet set, where tens of thousands of euros are spent on magnum bottles of champagne at the coveted central tables. Every corner holds a thousand memories of razzle-dazzle, scandal, ex- travagance, jealousies, trysts and passion.

As AIDS started to take its deadly toll in the 1980s, sexual escapades diminished somewhat and the newly pent-up energy needed an outlet. An entire generation celebrated the ephemeral with loud music, strong drinks and other substances, punishing their brains and livers while smil ing into the lenses of Polaroid cameras. Now gone, this generation has been replaced by nouveau riche dreamers.

As for those of us who’ve seen it all, things are changing, too. Sure, gay cruising around the Church of Paraportiani has never stopped, but what you hear most often is: “Come over for a bowl of pasta and some TV.” Together with the invasion of upstart Greek businessmen who until then could only imagine Mykonos, we ourselves slow- ly but steadily entered the phase of “a night on the couch, a quiet game of cards and maybe a jaunt out to Matsuhisa for dinner”. In the years of the nancial bubble, we went to parties at new villas and wondered where the money to build and maintain them came from. At the same time, we watched those who just a few years ago had been happy to dance a rut into the disco oor gradually retire and utter the dreaded phrase: “I can’t be bothered to go out tonight.” In the end, the bubble burst, and many of the villas were sold, abandoned to the elements or seized by creditors.

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Yet, Mykonos still has it all: from souvlaki shops to the best cuisine in the world, from Learjets lining up for take- o at its airport to bumpy roads with hundreds of annoying mopeds. It is also acquiring a reputation for having the most spectacular bars, restaurants and clubs in Europe: last year I was amazed by Scorpios on Paraga Beach, a super-impressive beach club with haute cuisine and the best sound system you’ll ever hear. Rock-strewn dirt roads take you to paradise – but how you get back is an entirely di erent matter.

Scorpios, like Nammos and Jackie O’ before it, has given the island its stripes back. If you don’t feel like going to the massive, o -the-hook beach par– ties at Super Paradise, you can always try the hyper-stylish drag shows around the pool at JackieO’, where you might spot Jean Paul Gaultier enjoying a glass of champagne up at the restaurant. At Nammos on Psarou Beach, Zannis Frantzeskos created a beach venue that is a destination in its own right. People who line up to be squeezed in on one of the wonderful loungers may end up dancing on tables. The same business- man has also executed another winning move by taking over the legendary Philippi Restaurant and transforming it into one of the most beautiful Ηak– kasan Restaurant venues in the world. Ling Ling takes your breath away: as soon as you spy its red sh tank and the sexy, sleek purple decor, you know you’re not going anywhere. Racing to make it in time for the season, he’s also created a club on the lower level. The prices are steep, but this is not a ven- ue for the hoi polloi: Ling Ling wants to ll its tables with the daughters of magnates and the world’s enfants gâtés, who seek comfort in quality and don’t care what it costs.

As I write, a dozen more venues come to mind, places that have changed names and proprietors like shirts but still o er tailor-made sparkle and shine for every taste and every age. The question is: how much can you take? Nights in Mykonos are a wild ride, but they turn out okay. You’ll drive around or walk around, with the music from the bars switching like a radio on automatic station search until you nd what you’re looking for.

Take my advice and end the night dancing at Jackie O’ at the port. Go for dinner at Raya and take in the view. Splash out at Matsuhisa and Ling Ling, have a drink at Moni. Dance till you drop at Guzel, just like the 20-some- things I hear recounting tales of midnight madness when they wake up the next afternoon. As for me, I’m always ready to do it again, and if there’s a good dj at the club, I’ll set my alarm for ve in the morning. Mykonos time of course.

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From Greece Is Magazine.

greece is – mykonos summer 2016, first edition

Published by: Exerevnitis – Explorer SA, Ethnarchou Makariou & 2 Falireos St, Athens, 18547, Greece ISSN: 2459-041X

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GREECE IS – MYKONOS is a yearly publication, distributed free of charge. Contact us: welcome@greece-is.com

Christina Politi

Christina Politi

Η Χριστίνα είναι δημοσιογράφος (υπήρξε και punKοσμικογράφος) έκανε περάσματα από την τηλεόραση, πολλές συνεντεύξεις, σχόλια, αμπελοφιλοσόφησε, έζησε ωραίες εποχές, ταξίδεψε πολύ, άκουσε πολύ μουσική, είδε θέατρο και κινηματογράφο μανιωδώς, συνεργάστηκε σχεδόν με όλα τα περιοδικά και τηλεοπτικά κανάλια, έστησε το Cosmopoliti (παρατσούκλι από το γραφείο), έβαλε νερό στο κρασί της, το φιλοσόφησε και παραμένει αισιόδοξη. Είναι μητέρα δύο παιδιών και τριών σκυλιών ράτσας pug.

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