How to Survive a Latin party
I will never forget the first party where I was the only gringa (non spanish speaking) I really had no idea what to expect the culture shock I experienced just a few blocks away from my house in the US. Here are some tips that would have really helped me through my first latin party.
TIP 1. Start Time: Arrive at the posted party start time. You will most likely be the first one there. So many times I have arrived even 30 mins late and still been the first to arrive. Latinos are notorious for being late. The party will likely really get going 30 mins to an hour late. It’s ok. It will give you time to catch up with your hosts and you don’t have to worry about tip #3
TIP 2. Don’t show up empty handed: coming to any party empty handed is not a good first impression no matter the culture. If you do not know the host,a bottle of wine and, in many latin countries, a whisky or scotch would be even better.
TIP 3. Greet everyone: Make a effort when you first arrive to walk around the party and at a minimum shake hands with everyone. Latin Americans greet everyone at the party, if they know them are not. At first this was very counter-intuitive to my “find someone I know and find a place to talk” habit. After going to many parties I find this is such a nicer way to enter an event. If you feel super uncomfortable ask the host to introduce you around. Do the same merry-go-round when you leave the party.
TIP 4. YES, KISS: try the traditional one kiss on the cheek greeting. Don’t go crazy here. There is NO open mouth or grabbing going on. Simple kiss to one cheek, a brief shoulder touch, and no body contact. You can opt for a respectful or playful handshake or hand on the shoulder.
TIP 5. Be ready to eat and drink a lot: maybe later into the night than what you are used to.
I feel that latinos are the best hosts. Your drink will probably not be empty, and do not be surprised if you are offered seconds or thirds. That being said, if you have to drive home or have alcohol issues have a no-alcohol alternative to go to. If not, that leads me to my next survival skill. [need something more here]
see authentic latin recipes and drinks at www.gringachef.com
TIP 6. Singing and Dancing – 95% of all parties I have been to hosted by latinos has involved spontanous dancing to salsa, merengue, bachata, cumbia, and many other types of latin music. Karaoke is a big deal too. if you are really lucky and people show up with guitars, drums or other musical instruments, you are in for treat. If you have had your share of eating and drinking you might even be inspired to move your hips too. Go ahead and try it – you will probably have an even better time that you ever would at a gringo/gringa party.