Sunday, 5 February 2012

Lord of the Dance

One of the main problems when relocating to a new country can be getting to grips with the different cultural traits that exist. It depends, of course, where you go. A location that speaks the same language as your native land and is quite similar in terms of behaviour shouldn’t be much of a challenge. 

For an Irish man, Colombia might best be described as a half-way house in this regard. In terms of similarities, both countries are former colonies, predominantly Catholic – in name anyway – and have a significant but ailing threat from ‘leftish’ paramilitaries – it counts. On a lighter note, alcohol plays a pretty ‘healthy’ role in most celebratory occasions in the two nations – something you won’t find in many countries in the Orient for example. 

Of course there are big differences – the language being perhaps the most glaringly obvious. Also, as mentioned, while Colombia and Ireland might have a similar relaxed attitude to booze, how both populations ‘enjoy’ themselves with said alcohol in-hand is quite different.
'Wrong Way' taking Salsa lessons from somebody with years of experience behind her - learn from the best!
Smooth operator - practice makes perfect.

What we refer to here, first and foremost, is the dancing. For most Irish people – the men anyway – this is seen as an annoying, needless distraction while enjoying a few drinks. Nightclubs are a necessary evil in order to continue drinking after you get ‘turfed’ out of the pub. However for Colombians – and this holds true for the men just as much as the women – dancing is an essential part of any night out. Not to ‘get on the floor’ is criminal in their eyes. 

Now we’re not on about the ‘jumping around’ lunatic style dancing that we can all just about manage when we’re sufficiently ‘well-oiled’. Yes, that exists here too, but to ‘mix-it’ with the locals in these parts what you need are the skills of up-tempo salsa. For somebody from the western extremes of Europe, that can be quite difficult to acquire.
In terms of ‘picking-up’ women on a night-out though, it certainly helps to be a dab-hand at it. As a salsa-proficient, American friend mused, asking a girl to dance is a very inoffensive way of attempting to get with her. It can easily transcend the language barrier if your Spanish isn’t up-to-scratch. So without those sultry salsa skills, you can be at a major disadvantage when it comes to playing the dating game here.

Throw-in an ultra-conservative, reserved and impatient approach to the art of romance in a country where the native men are certainly not ‘backwards about being forward’ in this regard and you can find yourself on the back-foot very quickly. You’ve got to be far more aggressive here – a ‘player’ if you will. The women, as the evidence suggests, expect as much. It’s something we’re slowly learning. Only slowly though. 

We must point-out at this stage that the aforementioned standoffish romantic approach is far from an arrogant trait as some people think it is. In fact, it is quite the opposite. But developing a bit more of an offensive style, as much out of character as it may be, is a must in these parts – or perhaps anywhere. As a learned comrade put it, do you expect the ladies to jump on top of you? Well, it would be nice – in most cases.

Although the Bee Gees (or Boyzone for those of you from a later vintage) "words are all I have" method of getting with the opposite sex has worked relatively well for us thus far, it appears that much more is to be gained from even just a slight change in tactics. Or at the very least adopting just a bit of what we’ve discovered since moving here.
Michael Flatley and co giving it loads as part of 'Lord of the Dance'.
Why bother with salsa when you can do this?

Being more aggressive is something we can achieve – as long as we don’t go too over-the-top. We’re not ready to be deported from Colombia just yet. The salsa on the other hand, we’re not too sure about that one. 

We can improvise though. So how about bringing ‘Riverdance’*, Wrong Way Corrigan style to the Colombian masses? South America’s ‘Lord of the Dance’ if you will. The rewards will surely be endless, right?

*If you're unfamiliar with Irish dancing, or specifically Riverdance in this regard, check out


  1. I'm not sure on the prudence of using "offensive" and "aggressive" in the same sentence as "women"

  2. It's all about the context Micheál!