At a seaside bar in Athens, people are coming and going and introductions being made, just as at any party. Glasses of red wine are helping to break the ice and a couple of hours later, people start to dance. They are all members of the Communication Club (www.epikinoniaclub.gr), who total some 2,500 men and women of all ages from 25 and over with at least one thing in common: They want to meet new people. Some of the introductions have already led to marriages, and to many strong friendships. Thaleia, 32, had lived in Britain for many years and, after coming back to Athens, found that her old friends had either married or moved out of town. «I’ve been in the club for three years and am enjoying myself. I have close friends and we go out in groups,» said Thaleia. Eva is one of the first members of the club. «When I joined, I was a mess. But I found such warmth that I decided to stay with it. Just the fact that you have 5-10 invitations a month to go out is important.» She admits that her main motive was to find a partner, although this has not yet happened. «But I’m not disappointed,» she says. Dimitris, 33, an insurance salesman, had become fed up with the excuses given by his married friends to avoid going out and decided to make new friends. «My old friends are all couch potatoes now. They’ve stopped enjoying themselves and have too many obligations. What I missed most was laughter. People have forgotten how to laugh. But here I’ve found it again,» he says. One might ask why it’s necessary to join a club in order to meet other people, a process that might seem unnatural to some. «There is a social taboo, but just as some people don’t approve of communication via the Internet, others don’t approve of this,» explained the club’s psychologist, Maria Lasithiotaki. You don’t chase away the dark with more darkness. You light as many candles as you can and the darkness disappears, according to a Chinese saying. If that darkness is the loneliness of modern man, then the only way to get rid of it is to open up a new window of communication. That is the goal of Tonia Gerakari, who established the club five years ago. There are about 10 events every month, including literary, theater and restaurant evenings, excursions and parties. There is a base (a bar-restaurant) where members can meet every Tuesday, as well as psychological support and self-improvement sessions for those who feel they need it. The original idea was for a club for divorced people, along the lines of those set up abroad. Over time, however, it was found that this group could be expanded to include younger members who had not yet married or simply not found a partner. Naturally people join for various reasons. «It is not a marriage bureau or a blind-date club,» explained Christos, a member and an associate of Gerakari. «Here, finding a partner is not the prime purpose. If it does happen, all well and good. People mostly come because they want to broaden their social circle, to create new relationships, whether friendship or love, in a protected environment, as membership is screened.» Membership applications from people viewed as potential troublemakers are rejected, as is anyone who is clearly emotionally disturbed. «We prefer people who are polite, principled and positive, as there are some people who simply perpetuate their existential blocks,» claims Gerakari. Registration costs 100 euros for young people and 150 for the rest, while annual membership is 200 and 250 euros respectively and includes free or reduced admission to events.