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This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Boufedzis" (Μπουφετζής), which was sung by Giorgos Batis. His name is sometimes spelled as Yiorgos Batis. 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 this Song

This song is widely known to English-speaking people as "How Dry I Am", but the original title was "The Near Future", and it was written by Irving Berlin in 1919 for The Ziegfeld Follies. After Prohibition was imposed in the United States in January 1920, the refrain "How dry I am" from this song was used as a protest against the ban on alcoholic beverages.

The Greek adaptation of the music is credited to Yiannis Papaiouanou (Γιάννης Παπαιωάννου). The Greek song in its various versions has been performed by many great artists, including Glykeria and Babis Tsertos. It is a very classic example of early rebetiko music.

In Greek, a boufedzis is a person who works in the food service industry, such as in cafeterias, cafes, etc. The word "boufedzis" itself means "buffet", but also refers to this profession. The boufedzis is usually, but not always, knowledgable in culinary and pastry things as well.

The lyrics of this song mention hashish dens, belly dancers, and sex workers. Rebetiko culture was very much an underground counterculture of sex, drugs and music. The part of town with the sex workers was almost like a compound with walls — you couldn't see out, and you couldn't see in. It's important to understand that in the rebetiko genre of music, this red light district played a major role for the men.

Any time you hear the word "dancer" or "belly dancer" in rebetiko music, it's definitely not speaking of these women as respected artists — not in in the eyes of these men, and not in that era. It wasn't like today, in which some societies view the dance as art. In rebetiko culture, belly dancers were at the bottom of society. When we all hear this music today, we don't really think about the fact that most of the dancers of that era were sex workers. The red light districts served as the university of life for musicians. The drugs they used were not just cannabis or cocaine, but heroin as well.

About Giorgos Batis

Yiorgos Batis (Γιώργος Μπάτης) was born as Yiorgos Tsoros (Γιώργος Τσώρος), and was from the Methana area (Μέθανα).  He was also known by several nicknames:

  • Yiorgos Abatis (Γιώργος Αμπάτης)
  • Zorz Bati (Ζώρζ Μπατι) — "Zorz" is a nickname for "George".
  • Zorz Pilali (Ζωρζ Πιλαλί)

Batis was credited as one of the earliest legends of the rebetiko genre of music. In the original version of the song Boufedzis, which was sung and written by Batis, he refers to dancing and belly dancers — which makes sense, because in the 1920's he was the owner and teacher of a popular dance school called Carmen (Κάρμεν), which he opened in his home, in Pireas (Πειραιάς) on 6 Emou Street (Οδός Αίμου 6). Some say the school was in Drapetsona, while others say in Pireas. Some have claimed that the dance school was just a front for the Tekes (Τεκές), also known as hashish dens.

I think the dance school was most likely in Drapetsona (Δραπετσώνα), in an area known as Vourla (Βούρλα). This was a renowned red light district. The mayor legally dedicated this area to sex work in order to keep it confined to one area. The sex workers and the red light districts were originally located in Pirea, among family homes — until people were outraged and pushed for the mayor to tackle the problem. This was why they were then moved to the new area of Vourla in Drapetsona, the hub of the sinners.

In addition to singing, Batis had a great love for playing musical instruments, particularly the baglama and the bouzouki. He owned a large collection of instruments, and used to name them.

Batis was a prolific songwriter. Today, his best-known song is "Boufedzis" (Buffet), the one translated on this page.

About H Tetras H Xaskousti Tou Pirea

Yiorgos Batis, the original artist for "Boufedzis", performed the song with the band he belonged to, H Tetras H Xaskousti Tou Pirea (Η Τετράς Η Ξακουστή Του Πειραιώς).

This band is considered to be the first ever rebetiko band. Markos Vamvakaris was the one who organized the musicians into a cohesive group. They had previously collaborated informally in various gigs in the area.

One of the most famous rebetiko photographs (shown to the right), which has been used for various flyers and music albums, features this quartet. Its members included:

  • Yiorgos (Γιώργος Μπάτης)
  • Strato Payiomdzi (Στράτος Παγιουμτζής) from Aivali (Αιβαλί)
  • Avestis Anestos Delia (Ανέστις Ανέστος Δελιά (birth name Anastasios Dellios (Αναστάσιος Δέλλιος)) from Smyrna (Σμύρνη)
  • Markos Vamvakaris (Μάρκος Βαμβακάρης) from the island of Syros (Σύρος)

Yiorgos Batis is credited with naming them H Tetras H Xaskousti Tou Pirea, which means "The Famous Quartet of Pirea".

About Glykeria

Glykeria Kotsoula is one of the later artists who has recorded this song. She is the sweetheart of Greece and one of the greatest legends of our time. She was born in 1953 in Serres, Greece. Her musical style is modern laika (rebetika & folk), while still always paying tribute to the great Rebetes of the past.

Panayiota, the translator of this song, offers this personal perspective on what Glykeria's music means to her:

Glykeria's music always has and always will inspire me both on and off the stage. I admire her simplicity and humbleness despite her fame and success. While most kids were learning standard lullabies, my mother would sing all her songs to me, since I was a baby. My mother Evangelia is a huge fan and loves singing her songs. On family road trips, my mother played her tapes over and over again. Those cassette tapes are what made me fall in love with Laika/Rebetika style music at the age of ten. Thank you Glykeria, thank you Mama! Enjoy!

Most of Glykeria's records have gone platinum. She has gained fame and respect through out the world. Glykeria collaborates with many notable international musicians, including the Turkish living legend, Omar Farouk Tekbilek.


Song: Boufedzis, 1935

Greek Lyrics: Yiorgos Batis

Music: Irving Berlin
Greek Adaptation: Yiannis Papaiouanou

Original Artist (Greek Version): Yiorgos Batis with the band H Tetras H Xaskousti Tou Pireos (Famous Quartet of Pireos)

Dance Style: Hasaposerviko

Τραγουδι: Μπουφετζής, 1935

Στίχοι: Γιώργος Μπάτης

Μουσική: Ιρουιν Μπερλιν

Πρώτη Εκτέλεση: Γιώργος Μπάτης - Η Τετράς Η Ξακουστή Του Πειραιώς




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

Greek Lyrics


English Translation

Θέλω να γίνω μπουφετζής thelo na yino boufedzis I want to become a boufedzis (1)
σε Tούρκικους τεκέδες se Tourkikous tekedes at Turkish tekedes (2)
να 'ρχονται οι χανούμισσες na 'rhonde ee hanoumises so the belly dancers (3) come
να πίνουν αργιλέδες na pinoun argiledes to smoke (4) argile. (5)
Και όταν μπαίνω στον τεκέ ke otan beno ston teke And when I go into the teke, (2)
βλέπω τρία μεράκια vlepo tria merakia I see three passionate girls.
τρεις κοπέλες έμορφες tris kopeles emorfes Three beautiful little girls (6)
να πίνουν τσιμπουκάκια na pinoun tsiboukakia are smoking (4) pipes (7).
Η μια βαστά τον αργιλέ ee mia vasta ton aryile One is holding the argile, (5)
κaι η άλλη τον πατάει ke ee ali ton patai and another is stepping on it.
η τρίτη η μικρότερη ee triti ee mikroteri The third, youngest one
γυρεύει να φουμάρει yirevi na foumari is looking to take a drag.
Η μια παίζει τον μπαγλαμά ee mia pezi ton baglama One is playing the baglama (8)
κaι η άλλη το μπουζούκι ke ee ali to bouzouki and another the bouzouki (9)
κaι τρίτη η μικρότερη ke triti ee mikroteri and third, youngest one

τρελή στο μαστουρλούκι

treli sto mastourlouki [is] crazy high. (10)
The version of the song used for this translation ends here. Below are other lyrics that have appeared in some other versions of this song.
γνώρισα τρεις χανούμισες gnorisa tris hanoumises I met three belly dancers (3)
κaι η άλλη το τσιμπούκι
ke ee ali to tsibouki and the other the pipe (7)
κaι η τρίτη η μικρότερη
ke ee triti ee mikroteri and the third, youngest one
τρελή στο μαστουρλούκι treli sto mastourlouki [is] crazy high. (10)
που είμαστε χαρμάνια pou imaste harmania Since we are harmania (11)
τρεις κοπελίτσες έμορφες tris kopelitses emorfes Three beautiful little girls (6)
  1. In Greek, a boufedzis is a person who works in the food service industry, such as in cafeterias, cafes, etc. The word "boufedzis" itself means "buffet", but also refers to this profession. The boufedzis is usually, but not always, knowledgable in culinary and pastry things as well.
  2. "Tekedes" means "hashish dens". The singular is "teke". In the hashish dens of Greece during the early 20th century, men used all kinds of drugs - cannabis, heroin, cocaine, etc. They also played and created music.
  3. The word hanoumisa comes from the Turkish word hanım, which referred to a Muslim lady. The Greek form hanoumisa and its related forms of hanoumaki and hanoumi can be defined as "the woman of the harem". However, it has also frequently been used to mean "belly dancer", and that is how it's used in this song.
  4. The literal translation is "drink", but here it's referring to using a water pipe (argile), so it's a reference to smoking the pipe.
  5. The Greek word argile (plural argiledes) is also used in some Arabic-speaking areas such as Syria to refer to a hookah pipe. In Egypt, the word "shisha" would be used for the same thing.
  6. Most likely, these were girls who were confined in the vourla red light district jails operated by the city. Unfortunately, there were young girls in these places in addition to the adult women, and none of these girls or women were allowed out of the compound. In this era, only women who worked in the sex industry would be seen smoking like this, or even being out at night at all. Reputable women would not.
  7. Tsibouki and tsiboukaki both mean "pipe" in Greek. Another word for a pipe in Greek is  pipa (πίπα). Although both pipa and tsibouki can mean the type of pipe you smoke, but today both words can also refer to oral sex!
  8. The baglamas is a Greek/Anatolian musical instrument.
  9. A bouzouki is a Greek musical instrument which dates back to ancient times. It originated with the Greeks in Anatolia, the land mass where modern-day Turkey resides. Greeks lived there in large numbers until the early 20th century. The Greek refugees from Anatolia brought the bouzouki with them to Greece, and they were the founders of the Greek musical genre known as rebetiko.
  10. The Greek word mastouromeni  (μαστουρωμένη) refers to a female who is under the influence of drugs. The equivalent word for a male is mastouromenos (μαστουρωμέος).
  11. Harmani's originally meaning refers to various types of tobacco, or a mix. However, in this instance, it means being someone who desperately wants something.



Translations of
Glykeria's Songs On This Site

Other translations on this web site for songs performed by Glykeria Kotsoula include:



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.





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