Five Colombians in a room invariably turns into a party. – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Everyone I’ve met who’s been to Colombia says it’s fantastic and ten days in, I couldn’t agree more. Music is everywhere and it seems both men and women learn to wiggle their hips in the womb. People are super welcoming by nature, and their joie de vivre means you can’t help but walk around with a smile on your face.
The first time I went to a nightclub here was in Cali, the Salsa capital of the world, and I felt like Charlie when he enters Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: flash mobs, dance offs, sassy ladies (in ridiculously high heels) being shimmied across the dance floor by confident Colombianos, the lot.
The majority of dancing is with a partner and the first few times I danced with a guy, I didn’t know where to look. Men in the UK only seem to dance when they’ve been drinking, so this proper face-to-face, fancy footwork stuff was intense at first! Luckily, there’s been plenty of opportunities to practise – find me a Latino that doesn’t want to show an impressionable tourist how to move!
Anyway, here’s some Latino nightclub etiquette I’ve picked up on:
– During the night, you can swap partners (usually every few songs unless you’ve got some red hot chemistry with someone)
– You can stand as close to or as far away from your partner as your arms will let you. There’s no pressure to get close to someone you’re not comfortable with, but if you do fancy a dry hump on the d-floor, no one bats an eyelid
– As you’re dancing with a partner, drinks stay on the tables on the edge of the dance floor. In between songs, the dance floor empties as you go to your table, have a quick shot and then head back
– Dancing solo only seems to happen if you’re in a big group of people. I’ve had some funny looks when enjoying a freestyle for one
– Women have to follow the men’s moves (I struggled with this one initially! Particularly with the guy who span me round and round and round and…)
Known as the city of the ‘Eternal Spring’, Medellin is a great city: warm, buzzy, modern and surrounded by the most beautiful, curvaceous hills, it’s a far cry from the slaughterhouse it so recently was (you’ve probably seen Narcos.)
Colombia’s slogan to promote tourism is ‘Colombia, Magical Realism’ as apparently visitors often describe their time here as ‘magic’. They also produce ‘magic’ food and drinks: Here we have the “low fat” peanut range and sugar free alcohol, Aguardiente (a local spirit that tastes like a mild Sambuca.)
Ay Colombia, you’re so charming!