As an Expat I have become accustomed to the different cultures in which we live and none more apparent than the greeting when you see a friend. In LA you greet friends with what I’ve termed the LA Hug.
The LA Hug is nothing more than a hug hello. There can be an air kiss mid hug but this isn’t necessary. No, a hug is all you need with your held turned to your left so you don’t end up face-to-face. Also you tend not to touch bodies–there’s space between both of you, not much but enough so you’re not actually touching.
It’s true, I’m guilty of giving the LA Hug and it gets awkward when we go home to Australia and I forget where I am and go for the hug instead of the “kiss hello”. That’s one kiss to you.
Other parts of the world
In Shanghai it was most definitely the two-kiss greeting. I’m not sure what the origin of the double kiss is for Shanghai but it might have something to do with the large number of European Expats who have been in Shanghai very early on in history.
Now there are some places where the three kiss-hello is the norm. Where this is (or what European country) escapes me for now but it’s there.
Remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s apartment building started the kiss-hello thing? Everytime they saw someone from the building they’d have to endure the kiss hello? Drove him bonkers.
I do believe there’s an ettiquette for when to kiss or hug hello. For example, if you are Jerry Seinfeld and live in an apartment complex you will not need to kiss (or hug) everyone hello when you see them–unless it’s been a long time and they’ve been away so you’re re-establishing contact. Similarly it’s rare for me to hug hello my friends at tennis when I see them weekly. Again though if we’re back after a break we will do the “oh-my-god-I-haven’t-seen-you-for-ages” hug. When you go out socially then the kiss or hug hello fully comes into effect.
What do you do in your part of the world? Are you a LA-hugger, one-kiss hello, two-kiss hello or even three-kiss hello person?
Here’s a story from Conde Nast Traveler that could help you with your greetings wherever you are in the world. (By the way, Australia is a one-kiss hello country).
The LA Hug signing out
With every kiss-hello or hug-hello there’s also the hug goodbye. Nothing different here in LA. Signing off with an LA Hug just for you.
Now when you come to visit, you can be like a local.
xx It Started in LA xx