The European Cheek Kiss

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2008 4:35 AM GMT
    During my brief forays into Europe, I have come to dread it. There have been a couple of embarrassing disasters.
    And now I see gay guys casually executing it in clubs in the city.

    Is there somewhere to take lessons? Are there books with diagrams? What body parts are actually supposed to touch which? When are you supposed to do it and to whom?

    It's trickier than it looks, kind of like a flip turn in the pool.
  • Hunter9

    Posts: 1039

    Aug 10, 2008 4:54 AM GMT
    if you know each countries cultural norms regarding the cheek kiss(es), its really quite easy to pull off as if you are a local. if you dont know a countries' norms, just ask! they are usually more than happy to explain their local customs. the mistake that causes the most problems though is if you go for the wrong cheek first. not all countries have a set cheek that begins the series, but if there is, definitely be alert to that
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    Aug 10, 2008 4:55 AM GMT
    It seems that most everyone I've been meeting recently does this - gay or straight. I don't get it. ha ha!!
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    Aug 10, 2008 5:05 AM GMT
    Actually I think it is becoming less common in Europe (sort of like guys holding hands in Greece)- though maybe that is just my perception.

    I've never been anywhere, and I've traveled extensively throughout Europe, where a cheek kiss was mandatory... but if someone offers, just go with the flow... you don't have to be the one offering.

    Keep it to a peck, or just a sort of passing kiss in the air - you don't really touch - unless there is a much more personal connection (close personal friends, a welcome to someones home if you are a close friend of someone, etc.)

    If you are interested, there is a book by Mary Bosrock titled "European Business Customs & Manners:
    A Country-by-Country Guide to European Customs and Manners" that is a pretty interesting read if you are unaccustomed to European manners.

    Theer are a lot of customs - like wearing shorts in public, or adressing someone by their first name - that will automatically label you as a boorish American. It helps to know a bit about mores and customs before you go.


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    Aug 10, 2008 5:10 AM GMT
    ITJock said Keep it to a peck, or just a sort of passing kiss in the air - you don't really touch - unless there is a much more personal connection (close personal friends, a welcome to someones home if you are a close friend of someone, etc.)


    Follow ITjock's advice. I made the horrible mistake of giving the Finnish Ambassador's cheek some serious tongue. How embarrassing.
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    Aug 10, 2008 5:34 AM GMT

    I can't find the downside to a kiss on my cheek. icon_razz.gif
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    Aug 10, 2008 6:03 AM GMT
    They kiss here also in Turkey but arm in arm is on the way out except in the Eastern Part!

    No big deal?

    Friends kiss on the cheeks but others touch heads from side to side?


    I love it he he he.........

    I get so many kisses and it is nice.
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    Aug 10, 2008 6:45 AM GMT
    This is not a common act down here in Oz at all. But having a Russian bf. I picked it up off him. Now with some of my close str8 mates, One gets away with it. But it's mostly done in public, and I'm yet to hear a rude comment.

    But it's not a gay interaction, nor does it really look gay. But then we have Australia rules; AFL footballers patting each other on the ass, and we had a number of years ago, had a beefy cricketer, whom had another player sitting between his leg, and then Merv licked out his ear. Now this did get some attension. But then you could not really call cricket a manly sport could you.
  • calipally

    Posts: 246

    Aug 10, 2008 8:05 AM GMT
    Belgium it's three
    France it's four

    Those are the only two places I do it.
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    Aug 10, 2008 8:20 AM GMT
    Miami and Spanish/Cuban is 2 times max...usually just 1, and Im very used to it.icon_lol.gif
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Aug 10, 2008 8:20 AM GMT
    It's very common in the Mediterranean countries
    but I have not seen it that much in Germany or Britain
    Plus people in Europe don't have the body issues that we have here in the states
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    Aug 10, 2008 8:25 AM GMT
    pdxpally saidBelgium it's three
    France it's four

    Those are the only two places I do it.


    We only do one here in Belgium, but i have to admit in Brussels it gets quite confusing with all the international institutions and the international crowd. It makes for a funny ice-breaker every time you meet someone new.

    But heck pdx, if you happen to be around in Belgium next time, i wouldn't mind giving you three icon_razz.gif
  • calipally

    Posts: 246

    Aug 10, 2008 8:46 AM GMT
    I get three every time I go to Mons and Oostende. I get a lot more when I'm drinking in Brussels, though icon_wink.gif
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    Aug 10, 2008 9:02 AM GMT
    You don't do it properly or make a fool of yourself in the process, so what? You're supposed to be kissing friends so no worries.

    Sometimes we Europeans even hug!
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    Aug 10, 2008 1:36 PM GMT
    I suppose gay friends greet each other this way, however the cheek kiss is mainly a sign of a close friendship between a man and a woman (at least here men are not too comfortable with in in general) and how you greet your family whole heartedly. Women with friendships do not seem to have a problem with it but mostly prefer the kiss past the cheek and not on the cheek. I would not really say it is the European way of life, though it is more common in certain countries than others, maybe you are attending too many Russian conferences or Italian secret society fun events ? I have been hugged and cheek kissed a lot in Florida by total strangers, so I fail to see the European part in it icon_smile.gif A very common greeting between men is a firm handshake, sometimes accompanied by a pat on the back, or close friends also hug after they haven’t see each other for a long time.
    But because I feel for you and your predicament I will briefly go into the basics so you do not run into anymore awkward moments. It is really easy I whipped up this guide for you, there is no science to it and you will be a pro in seconds( I swear )
    (hear say: these principles also work with Asians, Australians and Africans)

    The basic techniques:

    Introduction: Common knowledge:

    Many, many cheek kiss attacks start out as an innocent handshake but beware of shady European characters. Sometimes they are trying to knock you off your feet drawing you in close, also if you offer a handshake be cautious there are just no guarantees It will stay that way and your safe zone will be ripped to shreds.. However there are counter measurements that provide you with a safety net to at least get through the whole procedure painlessly and with grace and dignity. Furthermore it is customary to start the whole ritual with your head to the right of your counterpart's head, however on a side note there can be problems with persons who suffer from minor to major orientation issues. The result is often falsely referred to as „headbanging“ which however is an approved way of sport at rock concerts.

    I.) The neutral stance

    You must assume a neutral position to your European opponent. Your feet are shoulder wide positioned on the floor to ensure you are in control, also stand flexible in your knees. NO one will just slap your whole body on his chest. Show no weakness in your body language but do not go over the top signaling anger or aggression.

    II.) Know your enemy

    If your counterpart is preparing fort he cheek kiss you will know it and you will have only a brief time to react. ( read below).It is far more tricky to guess if you are expected to NOT go for the cheek first or if you are supposed to - as a sign of respect. I recommend reading into literature of the local European tribes. People have been tossed over the Alps for lesser offenses and our tiny little villages differ so much from each other.

    III.) „The approach“

    The approach is a very tricky phase of the cheek kiss, however it is easy when executed properly, so make sure you do not fail at this point or else you will be called horrible names. Let us assume in this case you are the target of a random cheek kiss attack.. Do not sweat for obvious hygienic reasons, stay calm, you can get through this. In some parts of the world you might have been offered a raw gigantic beetle instead. With this happy thought in your head you swiftly get your head back in the game and measure the height of the European person. Try to accommodate your height to your counterpart and zone in at medium velocity. This means not too slow, after all you don’t want the other persons either jumping up your throat or kissing you on your forehead like a babies goodnight kiss or the whole thing reversed. ( really awkward ). Remember you are not the kisser in this scenario, you are simply a meaningless piece of meat offering his cheek this is not your show – yet ! Keep your head straight and set your gaze straight ahead past the other persons shoulder and slowly come to a halt. Do not ever look at the other person during the execution of this phase, either you will look like a madman keeping your head straight rolling your eyes left, or you will turn your head and no one can guarantee where that kiss might end up. Once you have come to a halt stay calm and halt still. You have just perfectly executed your part and can rest assured nothing can go wrong. There it is..that awkward kiss or not ? If you do not feel a kiss on your cheek you only have but ¼ of a second to fake a kiss in the air. If you miss this crucial time window you have just royally screwed up not recognizing the signs of an „air popper“ ( see cheek kiss variations number a.) ) .Either way slowly assume the neutral stance and smile like you mean it.

    IV.)The kiss, executed as the „kissback“ or as well „the opener“


    In most scenarios, albeit you have just been ooverwhelmed by a kiss attack you are actually supposed to kiss back.( If you missed the „air popper“ then just forget about everything there is no comeback from it. You are doomed. Try to talk about the weather or go boil an egg )
    In the other case as tough as it is , there is just now way out of „the kissback“. Execute basic technique (1) then move on to (3) at 80%. Again do not check on the other person. Once you have obtained 80% the critical phase begins. Seamlessly move forward but slightly turn your head

    a.) left if you are the daredevil you are and are going first ( you WERE aiming for above the right shoulder..right ? )
    b.) right if you are returning the kiss ( ..... –II- left shoulder )

    Finish the movement at a steady pace visualize your target – yes it is the cheek- pull all your strength together and close your lips and plant a brief gentle kiss on your targets cheek.

    Common mistakes:
    1.) „uhh your beard stings“ Why did you have to kiss a man on the cheek anyways ? Suck it up...
    2.)„The slopper“: Closing your lips is not a suggestion. People tend to react weird when they feel you are a python trying to get their cheek ready for digestion.
    3.) „The stone“ By closing your lips it was furthermore not suggested to bring them to the density of titanium thereby hurting your fellow European.

    V.) A quick review of the most common cheek kiss rituals

    a.) The „air popper“
    Origin : It is rumored to actually having been adapted in the United States but this shallow display of attraction has its firm grip on nations all over the globe.
    Execution: Never turn your head – blow a kiss in the air past the targets cheek. Cheap , quick and painless.

    b.) The „alternating dance of the cheek“ kiss
    Origin : Unknown, somewhat popular
    Execution: Techniques 1-4, can be pushed past this limit by multiple repetition, somewhat disgusting if the partner is drowning in beer/not showered etc.

    c.) The "insidious great parallel cheek kiss":
    Origin : Rumored to be invented by circus folk, passed on by gypsies to the native European population.
    Execution: This is the grande dame of all cheek kisses the king the queen, pure madness of skill and physical fitness is required. To make a halfway decent attempt at this you need to be on top of your game, do not even attempt a feeble display of this if you are not man enough. Execute 1, skip 2 it is obvious both people are crazy in the coconut to even attempt this at the same time. Breathe deep, up your speed and keep your head to the right, apply same principle as in IV.) but in addition frantically twist your corner of your mouth to the left, maintaining proper form with your lips is almost impossible for the untrained, do no let „the slopper“ happen. Practice.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2008 1:43 PM GMT
    apparently you are NOT supposed to gently cup the other guys ball sack when you go in for the cheek kiss.

    Well, excuse me, your majesty!
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    Aug 10, 2008 2:01 PM GMT
    yep, in Belgium when you meet a friend it's one kiss but on other occassions it's three: birthdays etc. Sometimes four like around Christmass and New Year or on weddings. Confused? I know but what the heck we kiss a lot and we like it! icon_wink.gif
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    Aug 10, 2008 2:09 PM GMT
    LOL @ Librarian

    As a country that practices what we call Beso (from the Spanish), here are my thoughts:

    'Alternating Dance' is for a close friend that you're excited seeing.

    'Great Parallel Cheek Kiss' is when you meet a close friend but have to rush. icon_razz.gif

    The 'Air Popper' is usually acceptable unless it's a really close friend. It's a faux pas touch your lips to the cheek (just as it is a faux pas to actually KISS the hand of a lady when kissing the hand of a lady. LOL). Just touch your cheeks together and make a kissing sound in the air.

    Note that in some cultures, this is not applicable. Indians, Greeks, and Italians kiss in the mouth I believe, for close male friends.
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Aug 10, 2008 3:56 PM GMT
    pdxpally saidBelgium it's three
    France it's four

    Those are the only two places I do it.


    In France it depends.
    In Paris it's often 4.
    Where I used to live it was sometimes 3, sometimes 2, depending on the person, unless you were in school and you were casually saying hi/goodbye, then it was only one. But guys who don't know each other well do not casually kiss like that, only guys who know each other really well or family members.

    Mais moi j'aime bien faire la bise! icon_smile.gif
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    Aug 10, 2008 6:06 PM GMT
    In the south of Spain, everyone gives the air kiss just like the video of Good Morning America above. Straight guys on straight guys, gay guys on straight guys, gay guys on gay guys, hell, all the combinations. Two kisses, each cheek, starting with the right, sometime three kisses between very good friends. Some of my gay friends kiss me on the lips. I like that better.
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    Aug 10, 2008 8:40 PM GMT
    I've grown up doing it, probably because of my family in Mexico City, but it's natural to me...
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    Aug 10, 2008 10:31 PM GMT
    Here in Canada, mainly due to French influence, it is the practise to kiss on both cheeks when seeing someone you know and saying goodbye to them. We continue this practise when visiting anywhere, like who would not want an extra kiss?!
    icon_wink.gif
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    Mar 08, 2009 8:57 AM GMT
    They do this here in Armenia, and I tell you I just love it. It's most common between members of the same sex, but occasionally with good friends of the opposite sex it's okay. One of my female friends and I always exchange a small kiss when we meet. Here, the lips don't necessarily touch the cheek but perhaps a little bit, and it's more of a sound, and cheek to cheek thing (and usually the left cheek here). It's just such a fonder way of greeting, one that I'm going to miss when I come back to the US. I was watching an American TV show the other day (Arrested Development), and one of the guys did the cheek kiss to his son, who was weirded out by it, and it took me a few moments to realize why the other character found it so strange, since I was so used to seeing this action.

    But then, it's also extremely common here to see men walking down the street arm in arm, or see a group of young men hanging out and leaning on or hanging on each other. I walked past a group of guys outside my apartment the other day, and one guy was leaning against the wall with his arms wrapped around his friend, as his friend was leaning back against his chest. It's always amusing to see such things, but it's also become quite normal.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Mar 08, 2009 8:58 AM GMT
    Italian and Latin men in the US do it all the time, most are not gay. The only ones I see do the double cheek are the French and some Canadians.

    If it confuses you so much, don't do it.icon_idea.gif