*My definition of a living dance is one that is currently danced in its area of origin by locals for their own purposes, not for an audience beyond their community. Dancing could be in a social club, a party, a wedding, a street fair, a religious ceremony, etc. Although in this case I have no proof of locals dancing Áhi Váhi, off a stage, it’s clear that the residents consider it one of their core dances, and it is not so complicated that a mother couldn’t teach it to her daughter or a young friend to another friend, and there are plenty of musicians around who know the song.
Thasos, the 12th largest (380 sq.k.) and northernmost Greek Island, shows remains of thousands of years of continuous human occupation. 2700+ years ago, Phoenicians (followed shortly by Greeks) were known to have mined the island for gold and iron. Mining is still an important economic activity, along with marble, forestry, honey, almonds, walnuts, olives (famously Throuba olives), olive oil, and, most important, tourism. Current population (2021), about 13,000.
Áhi Váhi, Άχι Βάχι – the song
*ahi wahi= ah! wow! An exclamation of sighing and sorrow
Lyrics included with above YouTube (Google translated) Áchi váchi*! Kaimó pó ΄chei i agápi! Ahi wahi*! Alas, where is love! Ách! Áchi váchi! Méra - nýchta, Ah! Oh wow! Day and night, m' éfag' o kaimós ki i píkra. I was consumed by grief and bitterness. Áchi váchi! Me fágane ta vásana! Oh wow! I was consumed by suffering! Ách! Ta malliá sou téli- téli* Ah! Your hair is fine* ki i kardoúla m΄ séna thélei. and my heart wants you. Ta malliá tou kefalioú sou, The hair of your head, nostimáda* tou kormioú sou! deliciousness* of your body! Ách! Ta malliá sou kýkles - kýkles*, Ah! Your hair circles - circles*, na s' ankáliaza tis nýchtes! to hug you at night! Áchi váchi! Ta mátia sou me kápsane! Oh wow! Your eyes burned me! Áchi ta malliá sou ta plegména No, your hair is braided ékapsan polloús ki eména. they burned many and me. Ta malliá sou ki o laimós sou, Your hair and your neck, m' éferan sto logismó sou. I was brought into your reckoning. *ahi wahi= ah! wow! An exclamation of sighing and sorrow from the frequent repetition of which the song takes its name. *teli= chain, mtf. braid *nostimada= grace, charisma, cuteness *circles= curls, curls
There appears to be only one dance associated with this song. Yvonne Hunt, in her exemplary book Traditional Dancing in Greek Culture (1995) writes of the dances of Thasos “On the beautiful wooded island of Thasos we once again come across the syrto/ballo dances of the other islands, but naturally with local interpretations….Another favorite from this island is the Áhi Váhi. It consists of two steps performed according to melody changes.” So here we have a RARE example of a traditional dance that conforms to the pattern most recreational folk dancers think is typical of ALL traditional dances. – One song for one dance, where changes in the music signal changes in the dance.