Benitses in the 1970s…..

 

I did some internet research and discovered a bit about Benitses in its heyday…

Some of this info comes from –

Benitses, the first tourists of the 60s and legendary ‘Spiros on the beach’

In the 1960s, the first visitors began arriving in Benitses, which was then a sleepy traditional fishing village, a place to get away from it all. Many were wealthy and famous, who saw it as an escape from civilization and the paparazzi of the era. Celebrities of the day used to spend their time on the quiet beaches and in the two or three traditional tavernas that existed then.

Benitses was visited by famous actors and singers of the era, such as Peter Ustinov, Rex Harrison, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, Paul Mccartney, Ava Gardner, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, and Audrey Hepburn were among others who fell under the spell of the peaceful village. Vivien Leigh planned to buy a home nearby and during the last years of her life she visited her friends here in summer and winter. George Harrison of the Beatles spent several days in Benitses water skiing.

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It was then that Benitses began to build the reputation which brought in the 70’s a big wave of organized tourism and especially young women who came to Corfu not only for the sea and sun, it was the golden era of the “Greek kamaki” (I think this means local men looking for foreign women for sex). For over ten years Benitses was the holiday mecca for hordes of young British tourists, who were brought by major tour operators from the UK- although some were Greek owned.
There was a time when in a road only two kilometres long were over 100 bars, night clubs and dozens of shops, Benitses had 10,000 people every night.

Those who lived here saw many tourists, some staying in the village but others coming from all over the island, who came to party the night away..

Then the problems began which increased every year, and there was a reaction by local people who objected to the drunkenness, promiscuity and vandalism of some of these young people.
The tourists themselves were also unhappy, often complaining that they did not like to go out at night because of the bad behaviour of others. Inevitably there were quarrels between local and foreign men over girls. The party had stopped being fun, and by the end of the 1970s/early 80s, Benitses fell out of favour as a holiday resort, and tourists stopped coming.

The most famous of all the nightclubs was “Spiros on the Beach” which started as a small seaside restaurant which in very short time became the ultimate legend of Corfu nightlife during the 1970s and early 80s – a small building with an outdoor dancing area merging seamlessly with the beach.

Loud music of the era was played, simple lighting effects were used, and in the middle was a primitive wooden dancing floor. These were the ingredients which formed the almost legendary Spiros on the beach, the most “in” place of the 70s, the night club, the disco as they called them then, which every tourist visiting the island of Corfu wanted to visit.

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From 1975 until 1985, the owner, Spiros, was the undisputed king of the Corfiot nightlife. More than 3000 people gathered here every night, some to drink, others to listen to music, dance and have a good time, and some to engage in the informal “sport” which increased the Greek reputation for being great lovers…….

The small bar was not able to accommodate many customers, who paid for their drinks with banknotes without getting any change back. There was no time, pressure was so great, but despite paying three or four times more than they expected to they still felt happy that they had managed to get a drink at Spiros on the beach.

It had such an impact on youth at the time that the music sounded from the loudspeakers help shape the musical taste of youngsters of the 70s.

Its reputation had surpassed the confines of Corfu and especially in Great Britain was well known, “Spiros on the beach” was a place that many older people still remember.

Today the area looks deserted, apart from some old abandoned buildings, there is nothing left to see. The owner, Spiros Poulis died young at the age of 50, probably a very happy, and rich man!

 

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9 thoughts on “Benitses in the 1970s…..

  1. A very interesting piece. I love learning things about other places like this. Sounds like the St. Tropez of Greece, although St. Tropez is still too expensive for the normal human.

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  2. A fascinating read. I’ve been interested in all things Greek since my first 6 week backpacking holiday there as a student. Don’t know exact year but I know it was the last year that Greece had a King. 1967-ish?. All very Zorba and Melina Mercouri and Sirtaki and bouzouki!

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  3. Someone must tell you that when you copy something, like you did with this post, you should mention the source, otherwise you’re just a thief.

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  4. The word ‘kamaki’ means spear. It’s what fishermen use to get octopus… The human kamaki used the following pick up line “Do you like, Mamazelle (Mademoiselle) the Gris?”

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  5. Pingback: More buses and a phone shop…. | Third Time Lucky!

  6. Hi l was the first English dj at spiros on the beach in the 70s. It was a fantastic place to work in Spiros was a man mountain who died with very little but l remember him with fondness l hope to go back to see benitses next year it was nice to read your article. If anyone has any pictures from this period could they contact me

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