Cafe Aman

The precursor of Smyrneika!

Amanetzides:Created with 3D software by SDimis

At the end of the 19th century the Cafe Aman arrived in Greece and Asia Minor.
Cafe-Aman (the name probably came from the Turkish Manny Kavesi) was a kind of pre-war folk cafe in which two or three singers (vocalists from Greek, Jewish, Armenian, and Roma backgrounds), called "amanetzides" were saying improvised lyrics, often in the form of dialogue, and always in free rhythm and melody. Feature, was the repeated exclamation of the phrase "aman, aman" which the singers were using to gain time and improvise new lyrics.

The word "aman" derives from the arabic word meaning 'security, safety; peace; shelter, protection', and it is being used in singing to express deep feelings of pain, loss and love, rather the same way as "Mercy!"

It was in the environment of Cafe Aman, where one of the more exotic elements of what we have called the "Rebetiko Ethos", was born. This was named Smyrnaic style of Rebetiko (Asia Minor oriental style), and it firmly established itself as the most popular musical style from that period.The bands were typically led by a female vocalist, and included a violin and a sandoúri.Musicians of this period included Rosa Eskenazi and Rita Abatzi.

Another name, synonymous to the "Cafe Aman", was the Cafe Chantour, mostly popular in Asia Minor, especially in Smyrna and Constantinople. The songs were called amanedes manedes or amani.

Unlike this type of cafes, luxury coffee places called Cafe Chantan, also established in that period of time in Athens.At these places, small troupes were performing daily their artistic program.


Popular Posts