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The Argentinean Beach Clap

Jed Rothenberg

By | November 18, 2010 | 7 comments

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!

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  1. Paul Strobl

    14/12/2010 - 7:32 pm

    This is awesome! I’ve been living here for years, and had no idea it existed! Then again, I stay away from crowded beaches, so that could be one explanation, LOL!

  2. Hallie

    02/01/2011 - 12:34 pm

    Very interesting, never knew!

  3. Candice

    18/01/2011 - 10:52 am

    This is so wonderful and so very typical of the people here ! Their love of children and their managing to still look out for each other. Just another example of why I love them and love living in Buenos Aires !

  4. Maria Carra

    26/05/2011 - 1:30 pm

    I love the beach clap! Totally inspires my national pride!!

  5. Dave R

    02/01/2012 - 3:04 pm

    Now if only they could add taking their rubbish with them from the beach to their socially responsive mindset and we’d truly have a great situation.

  6. Joe Harrison

    02/01/2012 - 7:46 pm

    Very creative. Now for other intelligent things that Argentina should consider.Expecting and having police enforce the law. Expecting and requiring drivers of motor vehicles to comprehend that they are not in the Indy 500, and that driving far above the speed limit will eventually lead to accidents and death. ETC, ETC. ETC. Ted Rothenberg, the writer of this article, is being paid to write only good things, or he lives at the beach or is on vacation the whole year. The good and the bad, especially matters such as dangerous driving, should receive plenty of space when writing about any country. Anyone who has lived in Argentina more than a few weeks will know that driving here is as dangerous as it gets.

  7. Jed with a J

    02/01/2012 - 10:22 pm

    Howdy Joe- Unfortunately I do not get paid to only write fluffy, feel good articles, nor am I on vacation year round- I suggest you peruse the site a bit more and see what the team has written about over the years. Here’s a good starting point for something a bit more negative…if that’s what you are seeking:

    Argentina is a mixed bag of nuts and has negatives and positives. This article we decided to focus on the good stuff and we hope many people will be interested and delighted to discover Argentina and everything that comes with it.