One last night

Life Style
by Ian Yates, Greece | July 14, 2016

Young men in Greece are moving away from the traditional stereotypes and embracing a more serious and fashion conscious lifestyle. I met this group of friends when they were celebrating their last night out together before heading off to join the army for their national service, which is compulsory for all males here in Greece.
Apostoli, the guy on the right in the red shirt, normally works at his parent’s hotel during the summer and is now looking forward to spending the next year with the army.
‘It will be good,’ he says with a smile, ‘I will get to do something different and meet new people. Of course my girlfriend is not happy, but she understands I have to go, so…’ he trails off the sentence with a shrug of his shoulders.
I ask if they are all joining the same unit and he shakes his head.
‘No, I am going to parachute school like my brother did. I also have a friend there who joined a few months ago and he tells me it is good. Parachuting, it makes you think about life but it also makes you a little,’ he pauses as he tries to find the right word, ‘…a little crazy, but then you finish the training and get back to normal.’
‘What will you do when you finish with the army, will you go back to your parent’s hotel and work there?’ I ask him.
Again he gives a shrug of his shoulders, ‘I would like to become a chef so I will have to go to Athens for chef courses. Maybe if I was a chef before I join the army I would be a chef there but now I will have to wait until afterwards.’
His friend appears with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka in a stainless steel bucket of ice and I am handed a glass of the cold liquid to toast their upcoming adventures.
As we stand around chatting and listening to the thumping music beating around the club, I ask them about their hairstyles, which are all very similar.
‘We follow Olympiakos, you know the football team. There are a few players who have this haircut and we like it. It’s modern, it’s stylish and it’s a little like Adam Levine from Maroon 5 too. Good music and he always looks good.’ Apostoli runs his hand through his hair, ‘Of course, after tomorrow I guess this will all be on the floor of the army hairdresser.’
‘Is there not a stylish Greek man you can think of?’ I enquire.
‘Dimitris Alexandrou.’ He responds immediately.
I shake my head, I have not heard the name.
‘He’s a model, his personality is very quiet and he has good dress sense. He was in the army too and became one of the evzones, the president’s guards in Syntagma Square.’
As more friends turn up to say their farewells and cheer on these four lads on the new challenges that await them, I say my farewells and wish them all the best of luck for the future.
‘Come back and see us again when we finish,’ Apostoli says as he shakes my hand.
I nod my head and wonder how much these four young men will change over the coming months and I vow to return.

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