Right here right now

Right here right now

Unlike the small American town from the movie Footloose, in ancient Greece, dancing was thought to be created by the gods. It was a skill held sacred and a key part of most religious ceremonies. Today, Greek folk dance is an important element in social activities among this tightly knit cultural community.

Aris Mikelatos, whose parents own the Greek at the Harbor restaurant in Ventura, grew up surrounded by traditional Greek dance, and it eventually rubbed off. A couple of years ago he decided to attempt table dancing, beginning with a child’s highchair and progressing to actual dining tables.

Although somewhat lighter than a regular table, still weighing in at more than 35 pounds some muscle is required to hold it steady between one’s teeth, let alone swing it around.  

Mikelatos is not a stranger to neck injury and was once put out of commission for six weeks by the dance. “You’ve got to have a pit bull grip,” he says. “You’re grip gets tighter and tighter,” and the neck stronger over time.

The history of the table dance, is a bit of a mystery, but Mikelatos, who was taught by restaurateur George Alexiades, said his dad explained it to him as something that sort of evolved from party tricks such as stacking drinking glasses on one’s head. As more wine was spilled and the one-upmanship escalated, the table dance was born — an extreme sports prototype of sorts. “I thought it was crazy at first,” says Mikelatos. “I still think it’s a little crazy,” he laughs.

Mikelatos will perform the table dance at the annual Greek Festival, sponsored by the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, along with other men and women who will perform various traditional and regional Greek folk dances. Mommy and Me Greek dance lessons will also be available both days of the event.

In addition to live entertainment and shopping at the Greek Festival, there is the food, which could come close to outshining everything else. Souvlakia, spanakopita, dolmades and baklava are but a few of the delicious dishes in the vast Greek repertoire where the olive is star and feta cheese plays a big supporting role.

Ventura County Greek Festival, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 25-27, 400 Skyway Drive, Camarillo. Admission is $2, free for children younger than 12. For more information, visit www.vcgreekfestival.org.

Right here right now

Right here right now

It’s almost unheard of that a musical artist has enough influence to posthumously debut a record at No. 3 on Billboard charts. Johnny Cash’s American VI: Ain’t No Grave sold 54,000 copies in its first week, in February of this year, and despite passing away seven years ago, his fanbase continues to grow along with his legacy.

Last year, a couple of his diehard fans in Ventura County decided it was time to pay proper tribute to the Man in Black, who called Casitas Springs his home for many years.

“Everybody in Ventura has a story about Johnny Cash,” event organizer Jacqueline Murphy told the Reporter when she first began conceptualizing the event, which is centered around the music of the late country-western performer. Last year’s inaugural event was a huge success, with vendors, a car show and top-notch performances by Cash tribute acts.

In this, its second year, the Johnny Cash Music Festival is bringing the best of last year’s entertainment and adding some heavy hitters from the American music genre: namely rock ’n’ roll legend Robert Gordon, the first major rockabilly artist to emerge after the death of Elvis Presley,  with rockabilly hotshot Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats. There will be two stages of live music with performances from local favorites Big River, Big Tweed and Kacey Cubero as well as With a Bible and a Gun from L.A., Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts, Shaun Kama and the Kings of the Wild Frontier, W.S. Fluke Holland, Thirteen Stars, Cash Prophets and bluegrass duo Jimmie Ray and Cyndi Cantrell.

The people who once brought the hugely successful Primer Nationals car and motorcycle show to the Ventura County Fairgrounds will be handling the One Piece at a Time hot rod and motorcycle show, with celebrity judges awarding ribbons and trophies. The event will also feature a pinup contest and more than 100 vendors offering cool wares, kustom accessories and hep fashions.

Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. Tickets are $20, kids younger than 12 dressed in black get in free. For more information, visit www.johnnycashmusicfestival.com.

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UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS

  1. Multiple Ones: Contemporary Perspectives in Printmedia

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    October 18 @ 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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    October 20 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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    October 21 @ 8:00 am - 8:45 am
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    October 23 @ 4:00 pm

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