From the early ‘60s to the mid ‘80s, Mykonos underwent a radical transformation - from barefoot kids and no electricity to gold shops and 24-hour nightclubs. You had to step over couples making love on the beach. Even the military dictatorship in Greece, from 1967 to 1974, did not stop the party. When the violinist Yehudi Menuhin returned to his holiday home on Mykonos in 1976, after an absence of nine years, he was appalled to find Mykonos overrun by “naked Beatniks of all sexes”. He wrote to the mayor, lamenting: “your noble Mykonos, where the visitors came for its own uniqueness and its proximity to the sacred island of Delos, has acquired the reputation of a place for all and every kind of decadence.” 

Decades later, this decadence is intrinsic to the glamorous allure of Mykonos. But the undercurrent of mystical energy, the cathartic sense of freedom, and the sense of belonging to a nomadic tribe are still thrillingly alive. “However many tourists come with their chatter and their litter, little Mykonos will not let the stranger down,” Lawrence Durrell wrote in 1977. “Its exemplary purity of tone and line will hush them, its island wind alarm their sleep, its black seascape nudge their nerves with the premonition of things as yet unformed and unformulated in their inner natures; perhaps the very things they have come here to experience … It is not cozy, it does not try to charm, it brands you like a hot iron.” In that sense, nothing has changed on Mykonos since its heady bohemian heyday. ■