It’s just after midnight in Alimos, a small suburban part of Athens and I’m locked in the throngs of a time-warp. The weather is mild, as it always in Greece during the summer, and my wet head rests upon a pillow, still chilled from the cold water that came tumbling out of the communal showers that belong to the marina. In the morning we will set off on a short sailing trip around the Saronic Gulf, but right now, I’m struggling to figure out whether I’m in 2016 or 1998.
Take your phone out of your pocket and open whichever application it is you choose to listen to music. If you can, load up Eiffel 65’s ‘smash-hit’ Blue. This is a song that came out when was perhaps eight. I can remember, hazily, watching the video on MTV. The 3D rendering looked incredible then, as the little men danced around the screen regaling their tale of a world so blue, dabadedabada. I clapped along and danced at an age where novelty was all I sought in music. With little to worry about in my life, save for the prospect of Manchester City spending another season in Division Two, I had no need for music with any real message. The bounce of the beat was enough.
Blue is currently blaring out of the speakers of the marina nightclub. It’s quickly followed by Destination Unknown and then Tom Jones’s Sex Bomb. You can load these songs up too if it will help you drift deeper into the scene I’m describing. Better yet, take your phone and place the speaker in front of your mouth. Open and close your mouth, wide and then pursed so that you cut the lows and the highs, and give it that sweeping effect. That’s the sound ringing out over the harbour, past the masts and halyards and carefully through the hundred or so hulls that sit resting on the water. I’m at a loss to figure out why it is these songs are being played. I would put it down to some kind of themed late-nineties, early-two thousand nostalgia night. But just yesterday, whilst swimming in Aegina, I walked past a group of small children playing a type of volleyball in the water and together, as a group, they were all singing Blue. Then it hit me. It’s still 1990 in Greece, and they have no will or reason to change. From my cabin, if I stare out the portholes, I can see a row of cars. There’s a BMW 320i from the late eighties, square and rigid. I took a glance inside and it had only done forty thousand miles. There’s an old Golf GTI, cubic once more, but with fresh leather seats. Whilst the miles were slightly more, one hundred thousand in this case, it still looked as though it were a car recently released from the factory. This theme is consistent across Greece, and is not simply confined to Athens and the surrounding islands. In fairness, if something isn’t broken there is little reason to go out trying to get it fixed or replaced. The only reason we do so in England is this perpetual fear of appearing to stagnate. You must always be on the hunt for your next car, your next pair of shoes, your next dream job. Feeling content is a feeling for fools and slackers.
The DJ plays something from 2010, it might be that Party Rockers track, but then again all those songs sound the same. Quavers on the snare for four bars, then semi-quavers for four bars, then a further set of sub-divisions before finally a drop of the one and BANG, distorted, compressed 808 kicks and a female voice, autotuned soul. Woah, oh, ohhhhh. Each song almost identical, employing a kind of triplet, expertly designed to match the swing of a female bottom.
You know the sad thing about all of this is, as I was walking back from my shower, I stopped to take a look at the party that was taking place. It appeared to be a function for a group of young sailors I’d seen wondering around during the day. Their hats screeched in white letters MAKE AMERICAN YACHT WEEK GREAT AGAIN, a tongue-in-cheek reference to everybody’s favourite presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The DJ is playing a song with a chorus asking everybody to take a selfie.
The DJ is playing that song that sounds like Stephen Hawking is singing the chorus that goes ‘Push me, and then just touch me, so I can get my, satisfaction. That song wasn’t too bad and I masturbated to the video several times.
I paused outside the party and looked on in. Everyone inside was beautiful. The boys were tall and handsome, with tanned biceps that bulged in their t-shirts. Their golden legs were mostly hairless. Their sunglasses didn’t make their heads look small, even when their heads were disproportionally smaller than the rest of their bodies.
The girls were all stolen from advertisements for white teeth, spray tans and bondage gear.
In my pockets sat seven euros, probably just about enough to buy myself a neat brandy. But I know that I never would. Music like this depresses me. Without meaning to come across as a knob, its lack of soul eats away at me anytime it enters my ears. The DJ keeps wrecking the mix, fading too early or too late or not at all. Everyone there doesn’t care. They just want to have a good time and music is beside the point. As long as there’s a beat, there’s no problem. I would only go in there, get my glass of overpriced liquor, stand at the side looking moody and hope that someone would come over and speak to me. I wouldn’t go over and speak to me, with my sour face, judging everyone in there just because they’re enjoying themselves. I would avoid me. I would talk to the chap who’s pouting and pointing to the sky, whooping in rhythm to the build up and then trying to start a chant of OI OI OI OI when the beat kicks in.
I retired to bed just as that song with the sax at the beginning started. I still have to listen to their shitty playlist, but at least here I don’t have to feel sad watching other people revel in commercial chart music and overpriced alcohol.