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Jul 02

Colombia’s National Sport: Public Displays of Affection.



I’m going to come right out and say it. Deep down, I’m a bit of a prude. I try to hide this with a somewhat relentless obsession with fart and poo jokes, but, somewhere deep down in the centre of my lapsed Catholic soul, lies a 19th Century Gentleman who is perpetually dropping his monocle while exclaiming “‘Pon my Word!” at things he believes ought to be too explicit to occur in public.

Ever since moving to Colombia, it’s been a shower of broken monocles in the depths of my soul.

I’ve spoken before about my occasional “funniness” when faced with the closeness of bodies, but I’d like to cast my politely horrified gaze more squarely on the specific phenomenon of PDAs.

PDA doesn’t only refer to an outmoded form of technology (remember Palm Pilots, anyone?), but is also short for Public Displays of Affection. In some circles (including one of the inner circles of my soul), this is officially frowned upon ,as it’s claimed that it shows a certain lack of restraint, and, ‘pon my word, just downright indelicacy. None of these circles seem to exist in Colombia, however.




Quite on the contrary, Old Bean. Here, if one finds oneself in a relationship with a Colombian (hey, it can happen!), a certain level of PDA often appears to be compulsory. In fact, it appears that some sons and daughters of this beautiful country may get just a little cranky if their partner doesn’t engage in at least a bit of petting – heavy or otherwise – now and then. Some would say this is actually a good thing – demonstrating to the world that you really do have a heart, and aren’t shy to let everybody know this – that you’re actually happy with your relationship, and don’t mind if people happen to find this out. Some would say this. My 19th Century Prude, on the other hand, would probably be more likely to say “By Jove! Steady on, chaps!”

Let me clarify. Public Displays of Affection can take many forms. It may be as simple as hands being held, or arms being around waists. It could be a little more complicated and abstract, such as the phenomenon of Couple Clothes, which I saw take some fairly extreme manifestations when I lived in Korea (where it’s somewhat frowned upon to make out in public). Here in Colombia, though, it seems to be more loud exclamations of “I love you!” into mobile phones on buses, extended make-out sessions in crowded cafes, or even more physical – errr – interactions – in parks or cultural centres.


Guys! Tone it down, all of you!

Guys! Tone it down! You’re all as bad as each other!


Am I entirely off the mark here? Does the Public Display of Affection take on more explicit and physical manifestations here in Colombia, or is my Inner Monocle Dropper merely mired in tired old Latin American cliches? Please help me out here! What do you think about the extent of making out and heavy petting here?

As for examples of public displays of affection, need we give more proof than our very own example? Check out Marce and JL’s incredible, crazy wedding proposal.

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2 Comments on “Colombia’s National Sport: Public Displays of Affection.

Andrés P says:

Well… As a Colombian I have to admit some people around here tends to be over-affective and likes to do those PDAs everywhere! Personally I don’t like it that much; but I had to do that with my former girlfriend, otherwise she went mad as hell :/

Don’t worry about your inner gentleman. I guess he’s right at some point, but also I think there exists a balance. I mean, people should not be absolutely shy about showing off their love, as you said, holding hands or arms aroud waists are OK; but also a small, short kiss is acceptable :) leave the making out sessions for some private places!!!

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    Paul Giles says:

    Hahahah Andres, indeed: it’s all about balance! Thanks for your comment – I’m glad to hear that at least one Colombian is pretty much on my side. All in moderation, I say!

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