No it’s not some new STD. It’s a socially responsible, collective attitude that resolves an issue on the beach.
After living in Argentina for 6 years, it is no longer a common occurrence that I am left in awe of a new discovery. Argentina has plenty of small differences that I both love and could live without, and that’s what traveling and exploring is all about, right? Finding those little differences that are normal elsewhere. Discovering, learning and appreciating a new culture. What happens when these small differences begin to run out? I don’t have an answer for you, but I do want to point out one of the coolest occurrences I may have seen in Argentina: The Argentinean Beach Clap.
On a trip to the beach last year I was dazed, entranced by the rhythmic waves, basting in the sun, sipping mate when I heard it. Clapping. Everyone began to clap all around me. At first I thought there was some sort of impromptu dance off. Maybe someone was being goaded into chugging a liter of Quilmes- “What the hell is going on?” I thought.
I rose from my protective cave-tent to see a man walking down the beach with a child on his shoulders. The clap was shadowing him, like the wave at a baseball game. My Porteña girlfriend explained that many times children will go and play in the sea and return disoriented from the undertow and the dense crowds that line the beach. They will begin to wander in search of their family in the wrong direction and end up lost.
Solution: First person to find a lost child either hoists them up on their shoulders or walks hand in hand with them down the beach. The local crowd at the starting point is encouraged to commence a synchronized clap and this clap follows them as they walk down the shoreline. The attention of all beach goers is then gathered momentarily as the clap travels with the pair until the parental or guardian unit notices or is located.
Fascinating! Heart warming. Screw the individualistic mindset! This is the way things should be! A truly communal effort that is simply understood- accepted, known and has become the social norm. Evidently this has been the way a lost child issue has been resolved for decades. It’s common knowledge throughout Argentina’s shores.
The only thing I can think of right now that is even remotely related in the U.S. is the common courtesy of flashing your headlights if a cop is ahead radaring for speeders. Unfortunately, this is not universal throughout the nation and still borders on a fairly individualistic occurrence.
We United States-ians have much to learn. Catch the clap for me!