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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Τα Λαδάκικα
(Ta Ladadika)

(The Red Light District)

 

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Ta Ladadika" (Τα Λαδάκικα), which was sung by Dimitris Mitropanos. Also included is a pronunciation guide for the Greek lyrics so you can sing along if you like.

For more information about the laiko and rebetiko styles of music, see Introduction to Laiko / Rebetiko Music elsewhere on this web site.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

About the Song

This 1994 song is about women in the red light night district, and its music video also depicts this. Ladadika is a historic port district in Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη). Some equivalents in other cities included:

Pireas (Πειραιάς)
  • Trouba (Τρούμπα)
Athens
  • Odos Filis (Οδός Φυλης)
  • Platia Lavriou (Πλατεία Λαυριου)
  • Metaxouryio (Μεταξουργείο)
  • Zinonos (Ζηνωνος)

Rumor has it that the song was written for a specific lady night worker who used to give her money (from the night business) to poor people. She left this world poor. But nobody really knows the truth 100%.

Ladadika received its name from being a wholesale district selling mostly oils, among other things. Today, it's a bustling popular commercial area with many restaurants, bars, bistros, cafes, etc.

During the Ottoman era, the Ladadika district was also known as the home of the Egyptian markets. At this time, the region was called Istira, which translates to "market". For many centuries, Ladadika was known as a popular bustling port city selling not only oils, but also spices, herbs, and many more products from Egypt. (1)

Under Ottoman rule, the generals and pashas maintained their own private harems. They supported the brothels as well — where women not only sold their bodies, but were also dancers. Many of the women working in the brothels came from all over Greece, including Cyprus. The most popular and high-class night workers were the women from Smyrna and other Greek women from the northern Anatolian regions of present day Turkey, including the women from Thessalia. In Turkish, the prostitutes were referred to as the the "little kiries" (μικρές κυρίες), and also referred to as Hanoumakia (Χανουμάκια), which literally translates to little belly dancers. There were even brothels in Thessalia that housed Anatolian Greek refugee women exclusively! In the early 1900's. there were about 50 legal brothels operating throughout the city. (2)

Footnotes:

  1. Από Την Αγορα Του Λιμανιου Στην Αγιου Δημητριου, Στα Δυτικα Τειχη Και Το Φρουριο Βαρδαριου 3ος Περιπατοσ, https://thessaloniki.gr/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/3rd_walkgr_eng.pdf
  2. Πόρνες, νταβατζήδες και μαχαιροβγάλτες. Η ιστορία της απαγορευμένης ερωτικής Θεσσαλονίκης, https://www.womantoc.gr/life/article/pornes-davatzides-kai-maxairovgaltes-i-istoria-tis-apagorevmenis-erotikis-thessalonikis

About Dimitris Mitropanos

Dimitris Mitropanos was the original artist for this song. He was known for specializing in the Greek musical style known as laiko. He began his musical career in the mid-1960's, with his first big hit in 1972 with "Agios Fevrouarios". After that, he enjoyed a long, successful career in the Greek music industry.

Dimitris Mitropanos

About Marios Tokas

Marios Tokas was the composer for the music of this song. He was born in Cyprus in the 1950's, and showed promise as a budding musician at a young age. When Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, he found himself on the front lines with his fellow soldiers, surrounded by the enemy, and basically unarmed. This experience had a profound effect on him for the rest of his life.

Later, he graduated from the music conservatory with honors, and throughout his career worked with many great artists. The President of Cyprus awarded him the Medal of Excellence in Homeland, which is the highest honor of the Cypriot state.

Marios Tokas

About Filippos Grapsas

Filippos Grapsas was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. He made his debut as a lyricist in 1984 when he entered one of his songs at the 10th KNE Artistic Folk Song Festival, which was a competition. It was included on an album produced after the festival. After that, he participated in several additional festivals.

The most important chapter of Grapsas' career began in 1992 when he met composer Marios Tokas and they began a collaboration that endured for many years.

In an interview, when Grapsas was asked about the song Ta Ladadika, he said:

"Sta Ladadika, I describe a specific area, in a specific time period. In the ground-level stores, the shops (also known today as Bakalika Μπακάλικα) sold food, vegetables, nuts, snacks etc. On the top floor, the houses sold love. The customers, locals and foreigners, bought whatever they wanted. One doesn't need to have experience in this since there has been much written and said about Ladadika."

There are rumors that Grapsas had personal family stories that inspired the lyrics to this song. That's why the final statement in the above quote says one doesn't need experience in this area because it's common knowledge.

Filippos Grapsas
Song: Ta Ladadika (The Red Light District), 1994

Lyrics: Filippos Grapsas

Music: Marios Tokas

Original Artist: Dimitris Mitropanos

Album: Parea M' Enan Hlio (Together With A Sun)

Dance: Zeibekikos
Τραγούδι: Τα Λαδάκικα, 1994

Στίχοι: Φίλιππος Γράψας

Μουσική: Μάριος Τόκας

Πρώτη Εκτέλεση: Δημήτρης Μητροπάνος
Χορός:

Άλμπουμ: Παρέα Μ' Εναν 'Ηλιο

 

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Lyrics

Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes that appear at the bottom of the translation.

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Σε συζητάν δίχως γιατί se sizitan dihos yati They are talking about you without reason,
και όχι άδικα ke oxi adika but also fairly [with valid reason] —
όπως κοιμάσαι στα στενά opos kimase sta stena how you are sleeping on the streets (1),
παλιά Λαδάδικα palia Ladadika old Ladadika.
έγινες φήμη και γι' αυτό egines fimi ke ya' afto You have become famous, (2) and for this reason,
δε' φυλακίζεσαι de' filakizese you are not in prison.
ζεις στο σκοτάδι παστρικά

zis sto skotadi pastrika You live in the dark as a prostitute (3)
μα δεν ορκίζεσαι ma den orkizese without vows (4)

     
Λάμπεις στα κόκκινα σατέν labis sta kokina saten You are shining in red satin
που σε τυλίγουνε pou se tiligoune that hugs your body. (5)
άσπροι και σέρτικοι καπνοί

aspri ke sertiki kapni Heavy white Sertika smoke (6)

σε καταπίνουνε se katapinoune envelopes you.
σε καλντερίμια ξενυχτάς se kalderimia xenihtas You stay awake all night [until morning] on cobblestone streets
υγρά λιθόστρωτα igra lithostrota and wet pavement
στου πληρωμένου παραδείσου την αυλόπορτα

stou pliromenou paradisou tin avloporta to the paid gate to Paradise.
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Τόσα δίνω tosa dino That's how much I'm offering [to pay].
πόσα θες posa thes How much do you want?
στα Λαδάδικα πουλάν sta Ladadika poulan At Ladadika they sell
αυτό που θες afto pou thes what you want.
κάθε καμάρα κελί kathe kamara keli Every chamber a cell
με βαριά παλικαρίσια αναπνοή

me varia palikarisia anapnoi with young handsome men breathing heavily
     
Μύριες χαμένες μοναξιές Miries hamenes monaxias Multitudes of lost, lonely people
με 'σένα σμίγανε me 'sena smigane were hooking up with you.
φεύγαν καράβια fevgan karavia Ships were leaving,
μα πριν φύγουν σου σφυρίζανε ma prin figoun sou sfirizane but before they left they whistled to you.
πόσα παιδιά ήρθαν να βρουν posa pedia irthan na vroun How many young guys came to find
το αντριλίκι τους to andriliki tous their manhood (7)
και σου ακουμπήσανε δειλά

ke sou akoubisane dila and timidly paid
το χαρτζιλίκι τους to hardsiliki tous their allowance money (8)
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Τόσα δίνω tosa dino That's how much I'm offering [to pay].
πόσα θες posa thes How much do you want?
στα Λαδάδικα πουλάν sta Ladadika poulan At Ladadika they sell
αυτό που θες afto pou thes what you want.
κάθε καμάρα κελί kathe kamara keli Every chamber a cell
με βαριά παλικαρίσια αναπνοή

me varia palikarisia anapnoi with young handsome men breathing heavily
     

Chorus

Chorus

Chorus

Τόσα δίνω tosa dino That's how much I'm offering [to pay].
πόσα θες posa thes How much do you want?
στα Λαδάδικα πουλάν sta Ladadika poulan At Ladadika they sell
αυτό που θες afto pou thes what you want.
κάθε καμάρα κελί kathe kamara keli Every chamber a cell
με βαριά παλικαρίσια αναπνοή

me varia palikarisia anapnoi with young handsome men breathing heavily
  1. This doesn't mean she's sleeping literally in the street. It means she's on the side streets in a brothel, but the lyrics don't come out and say that word for word.
  2. Literally, "became a rumor".
  3. Or, a loose woman with free or no morals.
  4. "Orkisou" also means to vow such as, "I swear I didn't do that..."
  5. A reference to her clothes, literally meaning, "that is wrapped around you".
  6. Sertiko was was a brand of tobacco cigarettes based in northern Greece. The word Sertiko also means heavy (attitude) man.
  7. In Greece, it was quite common for fathers to bring their sons to brothels to lose their virginity. The sons were accompanied by the father or another relative. Mothers even brought their differently enabled sons (some blind, some in wheelchairs, etc.) to the brothels as well.
  8. This refers to money they were given by parents or grandparents, not income they earned through employment.

 

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Translations of
Dimitris Mitropanos' Songs On This Site

Translations on this web site of songs performed by Dimitris Mitropanos include:

 

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About the Translator

This page was contributed by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, who is happy to share her culture and music she grew up with! Here's how Panayiota describes her background:

I always love engaging with intelligent like-minded people, especially artists. I love sharing anything and everything about my Hellenic culture and upbringing, especially music and dance. A conversation with me will bring you back to America's favorite Greek-American movie by Nia Vardalos called My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I love investigating Greek culture, history, music, and dance. Speaking of investigating, I think I missed my calling, I probably should have been an investigator. Instead, I use those skills to dig and dig and dig tirelessly, often times falling asleep on my laptop... just to find the truth. But, most importantly, accurate truth. For me personally, and other respectable folklorists, my culture and accuracy are very important. Each generation of ethnic born artists has a duty to do the best it can to pass down our traditions as was taught to us. We have been given this artistic gift to be the gatekeepers of our heritage and culture.

Panayiota

 

 

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