The cafesaman were the popular variant of musical entertainment clubs. They echoed to the sounds of traditional melodies from all over the Eastern Mediterranean - the amane, the zeibekiko, the karsilamas, the syrtos, songs from the islands - played mainly on traditional musical instruments such as the Cretan lute, the bouzouki, the defi (drum), the bulgari (similar to the saz) and the laterna (barrel organ).
The operation of cafésamanwas frequently linked to prostitution and to people and activities on the margins of society. As was only to be expected, this state of affairs shocked many townsfolk in Heraklion; contemporary newspapers often featured articles condemning entertainment of this particular type.:
"Last week, as the church bells were calling Christians to prayer in the evening, from the other quarter the maestro and the minstrel with their trumpet and mandolin were revelling in hymns to Bacchus and calling worshippers to sacrifice to Aphrodite. No small number of villagers, who inundate our town at this time of year, visited not the church, but the café aman."
(IDI ["IDA"] newspaper, 4-4-1908)
"The night before last, the café-odeon in Heir to Constantine St was at the very height of its orgies. Indecent dances, immoral songs, instruments stirring up the town - that is what was unfolding in that den of debauchery, before the eyes and within earshot of the choicest members of our society."