By Maria Gregoriou
FOR a few hours on Thursday night Makarios Avenue, once Nicosia’s busiest shopping street, was almost like its former self, packed with young people having fun.
The magnet was no longer the shops but rather free music, dancing and cheap drinks.
Organised by the Nicosia municipality, the free Jamm-iN session was the first of a free weekly event every Thursday lasting until mid July.
The aim is to rejuvenate the street which has declined rapidly in recent years as shops fell victim to the high rents, competition from shopping malls and the economic crisis in general. Many retail units now stand empty.
But on Thursday evening the avenue was closed to traffic and the street was transformed into an outside night club, complete with bar.
“I knew about the event from Facebook and also saw a poster advertising the event in the old part of town. The music is good and it is a relaxed atmosphere,” Amalia Argirou, 27, a bank employee said.
Some people at the event had some connections to the arts and had ideas as to how the street could be utilised on a more permanent basis.
“This is a great attempt at rejuvenating the street and it is very important for us to support it so Makarios can survive. I think the street could change from a commercial avenue to something more cultural,” said Marianna Hadjilouca, 27, a set designer.
“There are so many shops in City Plaza and the Galaxias centre that can be used as studios for artists, for example,”
“It is nice to see some life in Makarios Avenue again. We will be coming back for the other events,” said one teenaged girl, part of a group dancing barefoot.
The bar, organised by Le Café, was selling a pint of Carlsberg for €2 and a glass of white or red wine for €2.50. Reasonably priced food was also on offer.
Zara and Benetton were two of the remaining shops on the street which took advantage of the crowds by staying open longer than usual.
“Our store will stay open until 9pm every Thursday for as long as the event goes on,” a Zara employee said.
The municipality said the party was a success. “It was important that people of all ages came to the avenue, sat at the cafes and got the street moving again. We hope the next events will continue in the same way, and better,” municipal officer, Katerina Andreou said.
She said the six week event would be followed by a month long project in September, all aimed at bringing people back to the street.
The next project will begin on September 23 until October 28 and will include a street festival. The municipality has already arranged with the owners of 10 empty shops to use their units for free during this period.
“Some shops will be used by fashion designers, jewellery designers or artists who make custom made souvenirs, something that is not available right now. Photo exhibitions, theatre plays and animations will also be on display,” Andreou said.
Different workshops such as jewellery making will be organised for people of all ages.
“The municipality hopes to create a different picture of the street, one of a cultural environment and entrepreneurship,” Andreou said. “The street will give local artists a platform to showcase their art and sell it.”
The Jamm-iN session will continue every remaining Thursday of June and on July 4 and 11, from 8pm until midnight. DJs and bands will be offering a range of music from rock, heavy metal and jazz.
For more information or to keep up with the action, visit https://www.facebook.com/ProjectNicosia