Rebetiko is a kind of Greek folk music that started in Asia Minor, more specifically, in Smyrna and Constantinople.
After the 1922 occupation and destruction of Smyrna, the refugees who sought shelter in Central Greece, along with their few suitcases and memories, also brought with them their culture and music. Around 1930 the dawn of rebetiko had begun.
People would gather in small taverns with a few musical instruments and, along with a glass of wine, openly express their pain, fears and nostalgia.
Although these individuals were homesick, a sense of hopefulness still resonated within their songs.
Rebetis refers to a person who embraces the whole lifestyle of rebetiko, also known as a “mangas”.
The rebetis lifestyle included a very particular code: wearing hats and growing moustaches, verbal mannerisms – such as cursing, using short phrases and slang words – and overall having different morals and ethics from mainstream Greek society.
Rebetes (plural of rebetis) were generally lower working-class people with often destructive habits, such as drinking, smoking, gambling and drug use.
Rebetiko is beyond a genre of music; instead, it is a state of mind.
Culture, tradition and expression of social concerns are combined to form the lines and ideas behind the rebetiko song.