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The lighting of the saganaki is a Greek Night tradition (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

Travel to Swift Current, and you’ll see an unmistakable Greek influence.  Not in ornate statues of mythological legends, not in ouzo stands or big fat Greek weddings, but in the lifesaving equipment you’ll find in the hospital and care centres there.

The Greek Orthodox Cardiac Unit at the Swift Current Regional Hospital (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

For the past 14 years, nearly half a million dollars has been raised by the Greek Orthodox Community, and turned into valuable pieces of specialized equipment. From their first piece, a kidney dialysis machine, to an entire cardiac unit, as well as many, many more.  And let’s face it, sooner or later most of us or someone we love is going to need it.

The mashing of the grapes. (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

So how do they magically raise the money to purchase this equipment?  By inviting the entire Southwest, just for one night, to become part of their Greek family – stomping grapes, smashing plates and dancing the night away!

I went to my first “Night Out in Greece” just two short years ago.  There, joined by a group of friends, we were welcomed in true Greek fashion with an optional shot of ouzo, (Opa!) and after settling into our seats, we leisurely strolled through the amazing pieces they had assembled for their silent auction.

With a number of Greek restaurants in the area all of the food served at Greek Nigh is guaranteed authentic (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

Then came one of my favourite parts of the evening – the pure authentic tasty Greek food.  While I sometimes complain that the Southwest has too many Greek restaurants, it’s also one of our most endearing qualities.  Something that people travel from around the province and beyond to experience.  Still as good as it is on a regular basis, the Greek food we can experience daily, lacks the drama and flair that’s presented here on this special night of the year.  Items like the flaming saganaki (pictured above), pan seared kefalotyri cheese, doused it ouzo and set afire.  It tastes as good as it looks.

Members of the Greek Orthodox Community perform a Hellenic Dance (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

A live auction follows dinner and then the real fun begins when members of the community perform some of the traditional Hellenic dances from the homeland.

One of the highlights of Greek Night is the dancing (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

Once the professionals finish up, it’s time for the amateurs, namely the rest of us, to take to the floor.  Invited, pushed, pulled and otherwise coerced, even if you don’t think you want to dance, you’ll soon run out of excuses and take to the floor, and once you do you’ll be ever so glad you did.

Because there’s something intimate and wonderful about throwing your arms around someone you may have seen repeatedly over the years in the grocery store, across a boardroom table or at other stuffier events, and really connecting with them for the first time.  Here you’re no longer a parent, a boss, or a customer.  Here you’re simply a dancer.  Usually not a very good one – but by that point you’re having so much fun, you don’t really care.

Don’t worry if you can’t dance – it’s easy to fake it Greek style (photos courtesy of SWTV News)

A Night Out in Greece is more than just about celebrating the Greek culture. It’s more than just the food, the dance and the music.  It’s about connecting as a community and coming together for the greater cause.  Doing the right thing to help where it’s needed, because one day, we just may be the ones needing it.

If you’re looking for a fun night out – that also serves to benefit your future health –  then GoHere.

How to GoHere:  The Annual Night Out in Greece is held at the Royal Canadian Legion No. 56 in Swift Current, located on 239 – 1st Ave NE (downtown).  Or you can GoHere to see a map.

Gotta Go:  As the weather starts to get colder, it’s good to know that there is both a clean and functional bathroom at the Legion as well as a staffed cloakroom, so that you don’t have to be burdened with an annoying coat all evening.

Good to Know:

  • The theme for this year’s Greek Night to be held on October 27th is “Hollywood Glam” a formal affair that gives you an excuse to dress up in a way you rarely get to do.
  • If you don’t know how to dance like a Greek – don’t worry it’s easy to fake.  Simply throw your arms around the shoulders or waists of those next to you, start moving your feet, and head in the direction that everyone else is.
  • The term “Opa” that you’ll hear frequently shouted out at any Greek Night, according to Wiki Answers means: party, or get down and dance.
  • You really DO get a chance to smash some specially formulated plates purchased just for that very thing.
  • If you’re interested in going to this hot ticket event – there are rumours that there “may” be a few tickets left (I can’t guarantee it – and usually this event is sold out).  To discover if there are any tickets left call John at the Akropol at 773-5454.