Clubbers’ outings limited by costs

The cost of nightlife has risen over the last few years and a night out clubbing in Athens is now extremely pricey. Greeks have cut back their expenditure to the minimum and have had to be selective in their choice of entertainment. With venues filling up only on Friday and Saturday nights, entrepreneurs have revised their financial policies and resorted to new ways of attracting customers. They can no longer count on the Greeks’ reputation as fun lovers. The recession has forced indebted households and young people on 700 euros a month to go out much less than they would like to. Few people can afford to pay 50 euros every time they go out. Panos Charalambos has set up various nightclubs in Athens, such as Panselinos and GazArte. His last venture is Polis Stage on Petrou Ralli Street. «People believe that the businessman is the source of the problems. But most of us take risks to secure a daily wage. If an artist demands 6,000 euros for the night we need to make triple that amount in order to make ends meet (staff salaries, advertising, posters, running costs, taxes and informal expenses). There is also the rent. In the past, the rent was 5 percent of turnover but today it can be as high as 50 percent.» But why should the consumer be burdened with all these expenses? Charalambos replied: «The consumer is not interested, which is why we open only two or three times a week. No business of this kind enjoys times like the good old days when the only rest day was Monday. Little attention is paid to decor. For the situation to change, the government should change its policy regarding permits. The majority (70 percent) of clubs operate without a permit but no club is ever closed down. Even when it is, they pay a bribe and the club reopens.» Giorgos Tsatsoulis, owner of the music club Metro, where top Greek singers have performed over the last few years, believes the club scene is plagued by a lack of quality performers. «When there is an interesting show that offers something new and different, the club does well. But everything is the same now. More sophisticated artists perform with pop singers and what we present is a mish-mash. New voices are lost in this environment. Prices have not changed at Metro but rents have risen by 7-10 percent annually. Of course every businessman decides what his financial policy is going to be. I could also put flowers in Metro but I don’t.» Club owners might have good reasons to charge high prices but they should not burden consumers who in most cases do not receive good value for their money.