Cortina discussion

Some people asked me about the cortinas I play between the tango tandas. The musical genre is called rembetiko. These rembetikos are original recordings from the 1930s and 1940s. Wikipedia says about rembetiko: […] Rembetiko is a kind of Greek cultural music that developed around ports and urban centres in the end of the 19th and up to the first half of the 20th century, with the bouzouki as its main instrument. […] Like several other urban subcultural musical forms such as the blues, flamenco, fado, and tango, rembetiko grew out of particular urban circumstances. Oftentimes, but by no means always, its lyrics reflect the harsher realities of a marginalized subculture’s lifestyle. Thus one finds themes such as crime, drink, drugs, poverty, prostitution and violence, but also a multitude of themes of relevance to Greek people of any social stratum: death, eroticism, exile, exoticism, disease, love, marriage, matchmaking, the mother figure, war, work, and diverse other everyday matters, both happy and sad.

See here a selection of four songs which I use among others to build cortinas:

  • Minore tu teke by Ioannis Halkias, 1932
  • O buffedsis by Jiorgos Batis, 1935
  • Beikos by Spyros Peristeris, 1935
  • Σούρα και μαστούρα, Δελιάς Ανέστης, 1936

Σούρα και μαστούρα

Όταν μπουκάρω στον τεκέ, τον αργιλέ τσακώνω
Και με τα φυλλοκάρδια μου τραβώ, τον ξελιγώνω

Του ντεκετζή ξηγήθηκα να τον ξαναπατήσει
Κατά κακή μου σύμπτωση σώθηκε το χασίσι

Και ξεμπουκάρω απ’τον τεκέ, μες στην ταβέρνα πάω
Δύο ποτηρίες εφετινό κάθομαι κοπανάω

Σούρας, τρελός, αν έγινα, κι έφυγα απ’ την ταβέρνα
Για το τσαρδί μου πάγαινα, είχα γίνει στην πένα

Drunk and intoxicated

If I go into tekes, I grab the argiles / and pull the heart of whole,
smoke it done / I’ll tell tekedsis, he should make it back full / an unhappy chance, is all the hashish /
(voice of stratos) jia sou anestos mou derwisch!
and I was storming out of the tekedes, and go into the tavern / booze and a few glasses of wine this year’s harvest / “crazy” by the drink, I leave the tavern, I’m going home and I’m in very good mood.



Album cover Rembetika

For further listening I recommend the album Rembetika Songs Of The Greek Underground 1925-1947

You can listen to it here:




6 thoughts on “Cortina discussion

  1. Hi Jens-Ingo,

    congratulations for your started blog and interesting first blog! Definitely very special cortinas indeed! I can imagine especially suitable when DJ-ing in Greece.. 🙂 Anyway, I’ve never heard them before, so very interesting!

    all the best,

    • Hello Bernhard,
      thank you for your incouragements! For me the rembetiko music has the same universal character as the tango music. Maybe putting it into my cortinas is also a reference to my greek origins … 😉 The people actually like it and they start even to dance to it but not in tango style. So it fits perfectly its aim and the people can easily identify the end of the cortinas because the style is very recognisable (even for the most unmusical person ;-))

  2. Hi 🙂 rembetika as cortinas are an excellent idea! I can’t wait to get to one of the milongas dj’ed by you and enjoy them 😀 Actually, it is very fitting that they be used at a milonga – after all, rembetika are something like tango, Greek-style; their history is very similar to tango, as wiki explains.. Well done! Filakia,

  3. Hey Jens-Ingo,

    thank you for this inspiring blogpost. I will definitely search for some rembetikas. They are really fitting well as a cortina. And who knows, maybe I will DJ again in Greece one day. 🙂

    Best regards,

  4. In May 2006 a wealthy Greek friend lent me his villa in Corfu. There was a huge pile of Greek CDs on the dining room table, some in jewel boxes, some just strewn about. I started going through them by listening. I don’t read any Greek, so I could only go by sound. I found some very agreeable music, but the one CD that totally stood out was by rembetika singer Roza Eskanazi (who, I later found out, was a Sephardic Jew). I ended up getting all of her CDs, and like you I occasionally play them as cortinas. I especially like the “amans”, which are chants in which the singer improvises on the word “aman,” mercy. They are really funky and soulful. I’m glad someone else in the tango world appreciates rembetika!

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