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oC
Cyprus in the 80s and 90s
Cyprus in the 80s and 90s
Images from the Past. Part 2
128
Translation: Frances Ransome
25.01.2018

I’m sure many of you, like me, remember that special time: the 80s and 90s. I think there is a lot we children of those yearscan fondly remember, especially today ...that’s how I see it in any case. I also believe our memories will be very much alike: friends, a lot of good music, a quiet life full of simple joys and experiences.

If this strikes a chord with you,read on and I'll talk about what childhood and teen years in Cyprus were like in the good old days.

These days, it pretty common to be nostalgic about the years gone by or a particular decade. It seems to have become a global phenomenon!

I'm no exception: I sometimes really miss the 80s and 90s ...

When we talk about decades, many people associate them with certain things and events that united us, and recallparticularly vivid memories.

Is our common nostalgia just an attempt to recall and relive our childhood and teenage years?

I’ve noticed that a lot of Cypriots have started collecting things made 30 or more years ago. Several of my friends and relatives are now enthusiastic collectors of old bicycles (my brother is one of them!), old guns or even rare cars (if they have the space, of course!) I know one guy who was recently struck by the idea of ​​creating his own private Computer Museum. So, one day I sold him my «ancient» Amstrad from the 80s, which had long been gathering dust in its box but was still in working order, just like new... I didn’t need it anymore, but it was perfect for that new project.

And me, yep, I’m also a collector: I have a pretty decent collection of Japanese 80s games consoles made by Casio. They’re all in their original boxes in mint condition!

коллекция видеоигр 80-90-х

I also have a sports car from 1991. It’s a good runner and still in excellent condition. I mean, I don’t even drive it very often, once a month perhaps, just taking it out for a spin now and then.

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When talking about nostalgia, a lot of people probably agree: there is nothing like music to take you back to that time (or place) when you were carefree and life seemed to stretch out ahead like a enticing adventure.

In my case, the hits from the 80s and 90s instantly take me back. I’m proud of the music collection I’ve acquired over the years: CDs, tapes, MP3s… no records though because,in truth, they need extra space.

I’m more interested in the sounds of the time than the format!

So our nostalgia isn’t driven by collecting valuable items to sell them on. It’s more that a particular item creates an atmosphere that takes you back to the good old days.

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Let's take a trip down memory lane together…Life in Cyprus used to be much easier. The market only stocked basic household goods and back in the in the 80 and 90s a good stereo or air conditioner were considered a luxury: in the summer people usually got by with fans.

There were fewer cars and motorcycles than there are these days. Not everyone had one. Back then, Cypriots mostly got around on buses. Sometimes I think: if you’re used to less, you want less!

Basically, life was much cheaper, and people were happier. They weren’t beholden to the competition for status and acquiring property we are seem to be locked into these days. We weren’t even «consumers» in the modern sense: we didn’t feel that we constantly needed to buy something ... I remember how my brother and I wanted a VMG bike so we saved up our pocket money for a year to buy one.

We set up our own track and it became a place where our friends met almost every day after school to try out and perform bike tricks.

In fact, we actually started a trend and paved the way for professional sport: the GSP stadium in the Strovolos district was built on the very same spot. The landscape also used to be different: fewer buildings, fewer roads, more open spaces and fields ... more freedom for us children.

Luckily, we never had any accidents on our track. Once though, when practicing a new jump on my bike, I broke my arm: the fork (i.e. the load-bearing part of the bike’s steering mechanism) flew off near my house; it was simply a mechanical failure. When I got home, I tried to hide the break from my parents by keeping my hand in my pocket. However, my swollen arm gave it away and the next morning, my mother and I went to hospital. I remember waiting for the doctor who was performing an operation. WhenI saw a man coming towards me in a bloody shirt ... I wanted to run way! He saw my terror and asked his assistant to attend to me. I was so relieved!

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After school, we would also spend a lot of time with friends, hanging out until late in the evening.

On Sundays, we’d ask our parents for permission and then hop on our bikes and ride to Nicosia city centre to go to the cinema.

Tickets used to cost £0.50 and that was for two films!

We were action fans and would watch all the popular films about ninjas and karate, the action comedies with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, and of course the epics about Rambo and Rocky .

Then we got into horror movies and they were well and truly terrifying!

You know, I forgot to mention that back in the early 80's an ice cream only cost £0.005. Those were the days!

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A few years later, everything changed. VHS video took hold and the cinemas were empty; some of them even closed. Now we could watch our favourite films at home because video clubs were cropping up all over. My brother and I realised we needed to start saving up money again — this time to purchase a VHS video player. It took us a while but with our father’s help we manged to buy a Korean one: the Japanese brands were double the price in those days.

I was a regular at the video club: you could rent 3 films for £1. I always returned them on time so the owner let me have 4 videos for the price of 3, which I was really happy about!

Later, a copyright law was voted in by our government under pressure from the US because the cinemas had informed the American film industry about Cyprus’ lack of legislation in this area. According to the new law, each film was to be premieredand screened in cinemas first and only permitted for rental in video clubs six months later.

In the end, the cinemas got their audience back and the video rental clubs closed down.

Talking about the films from those days: supremely retro Greek comedies from the 60s (often in black and white) were the mainstay on TV. I can’t say I’m a huge fan but I still fondly remember some funny scenes that bring a smile to my face! Just the sound of those old movies, the music…it all reminds me of my childhood and family and with such intensity! Even modern adverts usethe soundtracks from old films as background music to great effect, in my opinion.

Besides, in those days we didn’t have a lot of choice over what to watch. There was only one station and one channel — PIK! It broadcast Greek entertainment shows along with the occasional American Western or British comedy.

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In the Summer, my parents took me and my brother to the seaside at Larnaca. We had to take two buses: one to the central bus station in Nicosia, and the second to Finikoudes beach itself. Back then, there was no Nicosia – Larnaca highway: just an old two-lane road that weaved through the local villages.

Family holidays at the seaside are all about swimming all day long; it was hard to drag us kids off the beach and back home. Nowadays, it's almost impossible to imagine: we spent the whole day in the sun! No parasols or sun loungers: just towels, and the drinks and food my parents had brought with us.

Let's talk about 80s fashion! If you ask me, it was a bit strange, funny even, but always eye-catching!

It was a decade when men sometimes played with feminine styles: they wore skinny trousers with huge hairstyles. Women, on the other hand, looked more natural than today: open faces with natural beauty and distinguishing features that conveyed their individuality ... the thicker eyebrows back then looked more expressive and beautiful in my opinion.

What I mean is, in general, people had a more original style than what’s popular today ... everything was more meaningful I think.

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And in terms of music, it was one of the best decades, a golden era, I think.

Incidentally, I recently got talking to a 20 year-old salesman about the playlist he and his partner put on in the shop — all 80s hits. He explained it was both for himself and the shoppers and I was surprised that he really understands the era and the artists. What’s more,they are still popular to this day!

It is also worth mentioning the Greek music of past years. After all, we didn’t just listen to Western performers; there were Greek artists starting out in the 80-90s. All of the musicians and composers wrote and played great music — real modern rock, pop and disco classics.

I also loved listening to their music. For example, Nikos Karvelas, well-known for a number of his projects and performances today, was composing and performing real rock-and-roll hits back in the day. He played a lot of instruments including the piano.

Marianna Evstratiou was a talented 80-90's pop and reggae pop singer. She once represented Greece at Eurovision. She collaborated with another Greek musician and composer, Costas Charitodiplomenos (he is still working in the industry). He had already written for a host of Greek stars. Costas is still composing music; I recently watched a TV show he’d been invited on and he has hardly changed since my childhood!

Kostas Tournas is another famous rock musician: he was in a few bands in the 70s and embarked on a solo career in the 80s. He’s stepped out of the public eye and rarely makes appearances on shows these days.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget about the famous 90s rock musician, Vasilis Papakonstantinou: he was in Cyprus all the time, giving concerts here every year!

The band Zigzag are pretty famous: they were the ones to breathe new life into traditional folk instruments from Greek and Cypriot culture (the bouzouki and violin) in their modern take on classic styles!

In fact, there were so many talented artists back then!

Sometimes we had the chance to see artists live as well as listen to their recordings: Greek singers and musicians sometimes toured Cyprus. It’s not big surprise why: Greeks and Greek Cypriots all speak the same language and we share many aspects of our culture. So, in our childhood, we listened to the songs with lyrics we could understand, and as we got older we started venturing further afield in our music taste.

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As for the 90s — it was a decade that gave us good music. Some artists were continuing their careers on from the 80s, while new acts were also appearing. All of them produced really great music, which, I think will continue to be listened to for many years to come, perhaps forever.

It was a unique decade when everything sounded amazing — rock, disco, electro, reggae, pop ... There were so many talented and inspired artists and they left behind a huge legacy.

I listen to them every day and feel a real gratitude to all the musicians and composers.

What’s more, a lot of the great old bands are getting back together — after all, good music is here to stay!

We’re also seeing the return of a lot of cult series from days gone by. Why is that? I think it’s down to nostalgia: we’re remembering the days when we all watched and discussed the latest hit series together.

For example, Twin Peaks. The story is laced with some deeper, mystical meaning. I was so impressed by it I watched in its entirety 3 times.

Next up, The X Files was the cult series watched by millions: I mean, you’ve seen it, right? I'd never seen anything like it before.

It’s almost unbelievable but I didn’t miss a single episode: we sat down in front of the TV on Sundays at 9:00 pm to watcheach new episode. Every week, my brother and our friend Taso would order sub sandwiches just before the start: we enjoyed many a Sunday evening in this way for several years.

I later visited Greece where I bought the X Files DVD box set, which is still a treasured part of my collection to this day!

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What about 90s fashion? Well, as I see it, clothes started looking more normal. Extremely baggy clothes, large prints and eccentric colour combinations were out. Denim saw a rise in popularity, particularly skin-tight and figure-hugging denim pieces, which are still in fashion, albeit in a slightly improved version.

In terms of fashion in Cyprus back then: I remember that even then people mostly bought clothes from shops instead of going to tailors (which were always expensive).Teenswent shopping alone or with friends, i.e. without mum and dad. We’d maybe ask mumto adjust something we’d bought. Most often, we needed her to make trousers skinnier ... though sometimes we did take our clothes to a tailor.

In the late 80s early 90s, guys thought it was cool to wear skinny jeans with white stripes made by the affordable brand Lord ... Of course, I also had a pair (that are probably still in my wardrobe somewhere!) They were the thing we all had our eye on: they were advertised in all the cool fashion magazines and were a unisex fashion staple — absolutely everyone had to wear them. Just getting into them took a herculean effort though!

In the early 90s, there was also a trend for punk and rocker-stylestuds and metal spikes: we used to add studs to everything all overparticular ourleather jackets. I also kept one of my jackets for my nostalgia collection.

We also had our own handmade movement: we’d make bracelets out of black leather or leatherette and add studs and other fasteners (only joking!) thus producing that in-demand accessory that we couldn’t buy in shops. To be honest, many of us teenagers back then emulated Iron Maiden frontman, Bruce Dickinson.

This time heralded the beginning of my adult life: oh, how I dreamed of finishing school as soon as possible, embarking on a career and finally buying myself a «serious» bike, a.k.a. a car!

And true enough, after leaving school we threw ourselves into new trials and tribulations and the joy of complete independence: we also began to travel more with friends and girlfriends throughout Cyprus or go to nightclubs.

I remember one day that I spent with friends on Troodos. This photo perfectly shows how the 90s Cypriot youth went on holiday, I think. My best friend, Fotis, had a jeep, which we used to go on a little trip with a small group of friends. As usual, our journey was full of adventures! We loved going on holiday and weekend trips with friends to see more of Cyprusin bothcars and on motorbikes.

One winter morning of 1994 or 1995, we set off for the mountains to enjoy the snow and enjoy a relaxing day surrounded by nature. You can see from the photo that the trip was a success: it was great, and Fotis didn’t change; he constantly rolled up his sleeves for some reason... he even went mountain skiing like thatonce!

Once we’d revelled inthe winter, we went to the nearest cafe up in the mountains. We went on other winter trips, one of which went on for much longer and ended up slightly differently than we’d all planned ...

What happened was, at around the same time, an old friend invited us to visit so we decided to go. We took the very same jeep and headed for Polis Chrysochous, to the village of Lisos (Lisos). It was winter and as the evening was drawing in, we approached his house: a fire was crackling in the hearth and our friend and his wife laid on a small feast of whisky, roasted local sausages and halloumi cheese.

We were invited to stay the night but I had to go to work the next day which meant returning to Nicosia (anyone who’s been to Cyprus can grasp the distance involved). Anyway, Fotis led us back via Troodos to «save time». Despite it being dark and cold, it was plain-sailing drivingon asphalt. However, our intrepid group had decided to take a shortcut and so had to go by dirt road from time to time, which, was notonly covered in crumbling stones but also covered in athick sheet of ice.

Along the way, we came across several cars that had got stuck: people had decided to spendthe night in the mountains, leaving their engines on not daring to move.

We managed to help them by pulling them out onto the main highway with a rope!

On another trip of ours into the mountains (in good weather this time), we went to a gamekeeper’s lodge near Stavros tis Psokas — there is a dedicated mouflon (wild sheep) reserve there. While sitting in the local cafe, we suddenly saw a young deer in a little enclosure. I, of course,decided to go up to it and even managed to stroke him (or her). It was incredible to touch its velvety coat and feel the overt curiosity of this timid and trusting child of nature. It was fed milk and later released into the woods.

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As you can see, everything back then was easy, fun and memorable. What’s more, we had everything we needed — good company, jobs and career opportunities, cars ... and most importantly, a sense of freedom.

Life is made up of many stages, and I had to experience several of them to grow as a person and become myself.

In general, I think people used to be better. They were more honest with each other, as opposed to what we often see these days.

Perhaps it’s because in the past people communicated directly, face to face. These days it’s easier for some to live a lie, go behind your back, use others or exist virtually online. I believe that all this makes people fundamentally antisocial.

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Would I like to go back in time and relive those years again? Yes. Perhaps one day it will be possible. According to Einstein and his general theory of relativity (1915-16), time is not linear; this means that time travel is theoretically possible.

Apparently, scientists are already even trying to open a portal to parallel dimensions.

I don’t know if it's true because there is such an overwhelming amount of information, it’s difficult to get to grips with everything and even more difficult tobelieve it all.

As far as I’m concerned, I trust Einstein as an influential thinker; he was always right, and honestly put forward his conclusions and many of his proposals and theories, some of which have recently been proven correct. He was way ahead ofnot only his time but, perhaps, ours too ...

After all, wouldn’t it be better if our top scientific thinkers united and workedtogether to achieve something higher — the common good, a world without wars, a better life for all...

The strong should not exploit the weak, the rich should not oppress others, especially their own employees, albeit under the guise of the much-vaunted «crisis». Anyone can live a thousand years to readily lose face and conscience in the name of unrealizable Napoleonic plans.

As I look back on those years, I know for certain that I will never be a slave to anyone. Life is not up for sale: good clothes, personalised haircut, fresh air, and the sun shining down on your face ...

I love my family, friends, perhaps, even the whole world. It is vital that we realise what is most valuable: people, not materialism.

Imagine that someone offered you billions of dollars and a huge country to lord over, but there was one condition: you have tolive there all alone, without a living soul nearby. Would you agree to it?

My answer is a firm no.

What’s more, Earth is home to all of us, it is a living planet that we must look after and protect.

I hope that humanity will wise up and will look back at its own history, both the distant and recent past and try to remember it all.

 

It's time to take our spirit to the next level. Peace, my friends!