During the examinations we made in our family photo archive, we came across many photos taken in Istanbul nightlife and especially with belly dancers between the years 1960s and 1980s. All these photographs were the surviving witnesses of the entertainment culture of a period. As we searched more we learnt the places which those photographs have been taken in: Canlı Balık Restaurant, Azderoglu, Lido...etc. Here in this article we would like to share with you the nightlife in Istanbul between the years 1960s-1980s, the restaurants, nightclubs and taverns through our photo archives and memories.
Entertainment and celebrations have an important role in human life. Everyone like to eat, drink and have fun. In our family, birthdays, name days, anniversaries, family visits, religious holidays...etc. have always been a reason to celebrate with an entertainment. Not all the time, but some of those celebrations were done in nice restaurants, taverns and night clubs. When we checked the photos in our archive we found many photos that have been taken in Canlı Balık Restaurant, Sarıyer. This restaurant was too famous once. We can say that the reason why the Koulurgioti family took a lot of pictures here is because they lived close to this restaurant and Dimitrios Koulurgioti worked here. The second place with many photos in our archives is Azderoglu Restaurant. This restaurant was also so famous in Bosphorus and it seems like it was one of the favourite place of Stavros Vafiadis. Then, we have many photos from Lido Restaurant, Yeniçeri Restaurant and Kervansaray Nightclub. Let's start chronologically and share information about them through our photos and ephemeras.
Canlı Balık Restaurant / Sarıyer - Istanbul; 1960s
Canlı Balık Restaurant was one of the popular fish restaurants of Istanbul, near Bosphorus in Sarıyer. According to information that we learnt from our ancestors, in the begining Canlı Balık Restaurant was owned by an Armenian gentleman (some stories tell that he was Italian ) but then it has been sold to Urcan, a well known gentleman in Sarıyer. As the old name of the restaurant was so popular, the new owner changed the name of restaurant to 'Urcan Canlı Balık Restaurant'. It was so famous that we can find information about this place in Resad Ekrem Kocu’s famous book Istanbul Encyclopedia (1963). Let's read what has been written in this book about Canlı Balık Restaurant.
CANLIBALIK RESTAURANT - Right next to the Sarıyer ferry port; This place was operated as a cafe by Sirket-i Hayriye (Steamboat joint stock company carrying passengers and freight on the Bosphorus from 1854 to 1945 ) until 1934.
Later, with the addition of innovations of the time, it was administered by various individuals as a restaurant with alcohol until the Second World War. It has been managed by a partnership since 1947 as a restaurant with music and alcohol.
Covering an area of 900 square meters with its terrace extending towards the sea, the establishment is arranged in a garden style. Due to its location, which is one of the most beautiful places of the Bosphorus, the restaurant is very crowded, especially on moonlit nights.
There is music every evening and Sunday lunchtime; The orchestras playing in the casino are changed from season to season. During the summer months, tourists are usually seen at dinner and at lunch in the winter. Canlı Balık Restaurant, where commercial meetings, special banquets and cocktails are held and frequented by local and foreign figures, is an establishment included in the touristic class. This restaurant, where 25-30 personnel work permanently, is managed by their own companies and also includes an American bar. (December 1962)
1960s Dimitrios in front of Canlı Balık, Sarıyer
Canlı Balık Restaurant has an important place in the memories of our family members, especially in Koulurgioti family. It was because of Dimitrios Koulurgioti who worked here between the years 1960s and 1970s. Here on the photo above you see Dimitrios Koulurgioti in front of Canlı Balık Restaurant in his suits. Dimitrios migrated to Istanbul from Imbros when he was just a child, in 1940s. He worked in many restaurants and in 1960s he started to work for Canlı Balık Restaurant.
1960s-70s Canlı Balık Days of Dimitrios Koulurgioti
Naturally, Dimitrios Koulurgioti had many memories as he worked here day and night. He saw many famous faces in here: Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, James Baldwin...We know that he met with Burt Lancaster as he told us in his memories. Maybe Dimitrios had the chance to listen Zeki Müren during his visits. Below we would like to share with you a photo of the Urcan Canlı Balık Restaurant team, including Dimitrios, from our archive.
1970s Canlı Balık Restaurant Team - Dimitrios is the 4th standing man from left
Koulurgioti family always celebrated their special days in this restaurant. That's why there are a lot of photos which has been taken here from late 1960s to early 1970s, just before their migration to Athens...Before we finalize our words for Canlı Balık Restaurant, below we would like to share with you a photo of Theodora Koulurgioti, posing together with the belly dancer, which also shows us that there was a show program in the restaurant too.
1960s Theodora posing with the belly dancer in Canlı Balık Restaurant
Lido Hotel Restaurant / Ortaköy - Istanbul; 1960s
Let's continue to our article with Lido Hotel Restaurant as we found many photos in our archive from a special night with cousins which has been taken here. Lido Hotel Restaurant has been established in 1942 in Ortaköy, Istanbul. The swimming pool of the hotel was the first modern pool of Istanbul according to records. The mosaics around the pool were the art of Bedri Rahmi Eyupoglu. Also Bedri Rahmi performed his first wall painting on the wall of Lido Hotel in 1943.
1960s Lido Hotel Restaurant*
Lido Hotel Restaurant was too famous in 1960s and as we know it was one of the favourite places of Leonidas Vafiadis. The photos that we found in our archive were from a special night together with Aleko Vafiadis, his cousin Leonidas Vafiadis and their families. Here below you see one of the photos which has been taken in Lido Restaurant.
1960s Vafiadis Family in Lido Hotel Restaurant
In 2000s, a nightclub close to Lido Hotel Restaurant became very popular. It was Laila. After that in 2001 Lido Hotel turned to Havana and then to famous nightclub Reina. Unfortunately we all remember Reina with the terrible terror attack in 2017 New Years Eve.
Azderoglu Restaurant / Arnavutkoy, Istanbul; 1980s
We continue with another famous tavern from 1970s in Arnavutkoy, Istanbul. Azderoglu Restaurant was one of the popular taverns near Bosphorus, and it was well-known because of the singer 'Alex'. Unfortunately there are very less information about this restaurant on books and web, but we could learn a few things from the people that we met in social platforms. Also we found the name of this restaurant in the book 'Rakı Ansiklopedisi (2018)' under 'Arnavutkoy'. Let's read this part from this book and have an idea about Arnavutkoy in 1950s & 1970s.
Arnavutkoy, A Bosphorus neighbourhood which turns to an open-air tavern during fair times, and a district with a lot of taverns like Beyoglu. Arnavutkoy also had many pleasure-loving litterateurs as guests. Unlike its name ('Arnavut' means Albanian, 'köy' means village) the inhabitants of Arnavutkoy were mostly Roums (Ottoman Greeks). Some places from 20th century: With its two doors - one opens to tram street and the other to the seashore-, with its mosaic ground and high ceiling, well illuminated, the famous tavern of Arnavutkoy Vapur İskelesi. One of the favourite taverns of Sait Faik and Edip Cansever; Karamico Tavern, and the other taverns Kaptan, Rema and Neşe...
Old Arnavutkoy; Todori's Tavern at the corner of Akıntı Burnu and The Restaurant of Karlo
It's worth reminding some of the taverns which had to be demolished in 1957 during the coastal arrangements in Akıntı Burnu: The Tavern of Udi Marko, The Tavern of Todori Pandi & Sons, Çınarlı Bahçe Tavern... In the district where Salah Birsel mentioned as there are a lot of taverns and restaurants in 1970s; Alex, Azderoglu Fish Restaurant, Huzur, Kuyu, Altın Balık, Bogazici, Restaurant Mimi. From all those taverns today only Kuyu exists in an old waterside since 1957.
Azderoglu Restaurant was one of the favourite restaurants of our family. Through the photos in our archives we can easily say that it's one of the favourite places of Stavros Vafiadis. On the photograph below, you see him with his friend while the belly dancer is dancing on the table, in Azderoglu Restaurant.
1980s Stavros with his friend in Azderoglu
Azderoglu Restaurant has also an importance for the story of our family, as Stavros Vafiadis and Theodora Koulurgioti were married here. Here on the photo below you can see Stavros in his wedding outfit and posing together with Alex, the famous singer of Azderoglu Restaurant.
1980s Stavros with Alex in Azderoglu
Yeniceri Restaurant / Yenikoy, Istanbul; 1980s
Another restaurant through our family archives is Yeniçeri Restaurant in Yeniköy. Like Azderoglu Restaurant, we have very less information about this place. According to some informations, Yeniçeri Restaurant has been opened in 1968, by famous Turkish actor Orhan Gunsiray ( some people says that he was copartner). It was quite popular in 1970s, and famous faces like Ayhan Işık, Sadri Alışık and Çolpan İlhan were the guests of this restaurant.
Since we are talking about Orhan Günşıray, let's share a brief information about him. Orhan Günşıray was born in 1928 in Istanbul. From 1957 to 2006 he played nearly in 100 movies. He was the producer and protagonist of the first black and white, cinemascope Turkish movie Sırat Köprüsü. He died in 2008, in Istanbul.
We only have three photos from this restaurant which has been taken in same night. Seems like it has been taken in the night that Stavros and Theodora celebrated a special day.
1980s Stavros and Theodora in Yeniceri Restaurant, posing with belly dancer
Kervansaray Night Club Restaurant / Harbiye, Istanbul; 1980s
We came to an end in our article with Kervansaray Night Club. This nightclub still exists today since 1960s. It's one of the oldest nightclubs with special shows in Istanbul.
Through our photo archives we only found two photos from 1980s. It's a nightout of Vafiadis family together with their guests. On the photo below you see Aleko Vafiadis and his family posing together with the belly dancer. The crowded in the photo shows us how popular this nightclub was in 1980s.
1980s Aleko Vafiadis together with his family in Kervansaray, posing with belly dancer
Here in this article, we shared with you some famous places of Istanbul between 1960s and 1980s, through the photos from our archives. We will update this part whenever we find new photos from different places. You can also find more photos about this topic under the gallery 'Nightlife & Belly Dancers, 1960s-1980s'.
Written by: 2mi3, March 2021
1- Reşad Ekrem Koçu, Istanbul Ansiklopedisi, 1944-1973
2- Rakı Ansiklopedisi, 2018