A social club for every interest
By Jean Christou
(archive article - Sunday, December 31, 2006)

CHRISTMAS and New Year are the times of the year when some people can feel a little lonely or left out.

Maybe they have just been divorced, widowed or just moved to a new place, or maybe they just feel the urge to expand their social life.

Twelve years ago this month, five friends got together to form Enorasis, a social club that has gone from strength to strength due to its diversity of activities.

The success of Enorasis is that it can fall into many categories. It’s a singles’ club, a couples’ club, a family club, a friendship club, an activity club and a cultural club. Take your pick.

Gaston Neocleous was one of the five original friends who formed Enorasis and now spends most of his spare time running it.

“We thought that society needed an outlet for people who don’t want to stay alone at home and we wanted to open circles for people to come in touch with others in a nice environment through cultural and entertainment activities, and through this to create friendships,”
Neocleous said, adding that one of the aims is to bring single people together.

“I faced this problem myself 17 years ago when I divorced, and for some time I was suddenly in the middle of nowhere.”

A visit to the Enorasis premises next to Finbarr’s pub on Makarios Avenue one Friday revealed a cosy clubhouse laid out like a large welcoming living room.

One member tinkled away at a keyboard while the 30 or so others chatted in small groups amongst themselves and helped themselves from a large punchbowl.

Enorasis Friday night meetings, which are held every other week, usually incorporate a short lecture followed by a discussion, which is then followed by a meal and dancing. Try packing all that into one evening.

The guest speaker was lawyer Achilleas Demetriades who talked about the recent developments surrounding the property issue in the north.

He spoke in Greek and summarised in English as not all members are Greek speakers. In fact, there were several Turkish Cypriots there as well.

“It was obvious when the crossing points opened we were going to extend our hand and offer a chance for people on both sides to get to know each other and become friends,” said

“That aspect became crucial for some of us, although not everyone in the club shares the passion for bicommunal relations. But we are all people living on this island and should have the chance to come closer and be friends. This will help the country as whole to overcome political difficulties.”

Going back in time, Neocleous said initially the club had 70-80 people. “It was not specifically for singles but the majority of members were singles because singles have more time to spend for socialising,” he said, adding that as many had children a lot of family activities were organised, including outings to the Akamas.

Neocleous said when the club started the aim was to attract 35-50 year olds.

“Unfortunately we are all a bit older now as we are getting older. I was 40, now I’m 52 so the majority of members are 50 and over.”

As the club has evolved, the age range of members has become 40-70, and this has not helped in attracting younger people to Enorasis.

“What happens is when younger people come to a social club and they see older people they tend to avoid coming again, but the opposite happens with the older people. They see younger people and they like it and they stay,” said Neocleous.

He said, however, that young people do take part, depending on the activity the club is organising.

“But we can’t always have activities for just younger people. It depends on the activity who is coming, and depending on the culture of the person,” he said.

The majority of Enorasis members are Greek Cypriots. Neocleous said it was still a little difficult for the Turkish Cypriots to get across, despite the fact that they can join at lower rates. Currently, Enorasis has around ten Turkish Cypriot members and some 150 Greek Cypriots.

In the past 12 years, 640 people registered with Enorasis. Some have gone, some come and go and others are still there. Memberships costs only £15 a year.

“Many people formed their own smaller circles and left together and occasionally they reappear,” said Neocleous. “Whatever they were hoping to get from Enorasis… to make some friends… it’s enough and they go. We change every year but we have a good number,” Neocleous said.

The club has also seen a few weddings, and Neocleous himself met his current partner through the club around ten years ago.

“Many people left and we heard later that they got married. When they find someone they become happy and then they disappear. Of course, some of them were so happy that they met through the club that they stayed,” he said.

“We cultivate friendship in a high quality environment. We organise lectures to learn something and to have the chance to discuss. We want to think we are doing something meaningful and something to become richer in experience. We also combine music, piano playing, dining, dancing and this we think is the best combination.”

Neocleous said there are plenty of clubs in Cyprus for different interests, clubs for history, charities, political clubs etc. “We are a mix of everything. We are trying to inspire people in many areas. We have done tree planting with the Green Party. We are trying to help the bicommunal effort and we try to promote cultural heritage. We also organise excursions abroad. We’ve been to Italy and saw the opera there. We’ve been to Greece, the Greek islands, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt and Israel.”

Neocleous said if people would work more on friendship, or at least understanding, it would lead to a better world.

“Sometimes I feel I have a mission and sometimes I’m very tired. I didn’t expect it to go so big when we started out and I didn’t think that 12 years on there would be people depending on us,” he said. In the old days there was the village and everyone knew everyone, but life in the 21st century is so different we need to have some other outlets.”

And for Neocleous and dozens of others, Enorasis provides the perfect solution.