We can change the stigma of Sensuality being misinterpreted by Sexuality. We all have an important role in our communities. Not only the dance community but the one you live in as well. Here we have a personal experience of ONE dancer who feels like her dance community is being taken away from her.
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On the other hand, you have ONE dancer who is taking action to change this. She is not blaming anyone or saying that is true for every female dancer in any dance scene. Nor is she saying that it is sensual bachata the one to blame. I want to end with this, be kind to one another and respect your community!
Well said..!!! Unfortunately, you said, sex does sell, and the younger generation are easily impressed, and badly influenced. I suppose you could watch dancers beforehand, but how many ladies actually spend the time doing recon?
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Most ladies are too eager to dance as much as possible, not a song wasted, not a minute lost. Frankly, I dread the idea of having a girlfriend and her dancing sensual Bachata. I really like your point about the women singing along. I personally feel drawn to dance, and bachata in particular, because it provides a fantasy.
Four minutes in which someone takes care of me and treats me like they love me. Thank you for this article — I agree with so much of this! As an organizer who cares about the audience I have more than once heard complaints from female dancers. And have had to politely have a little talk with some of the male dancers.
But it IS hard for the average and passionate dancer to stay on the right side of the line, when show- and professional dancers showcase and advocate moves that are just too much if no agreement has been made between the partners. Preach Girl!!!!!! A thousand times over thank you for writing this. I fell in love with dancing and even more so with sharing true passion and love for the craft with others who loved nothing more than dance. Then… came salsafied bachata courtesy of ataca and alemana and sensual. I embraced sensual… took me a while, but I joined a team and made some wonderful connections there.
Thank you for writing this post. Despite filing a police report, I understand this instructor is still being invited to teach at congresses around the US. I definitely hope people start to talk and educate the scene about this because these kinds of paternalistic, predatory behaviors hurts and alienates everyone. There is so much right and so much wrong with this post. All of it revolves around perspective and point of view.
Who has it, whose view is being expressed. With that in mind, let me start by mentioning what I see wrong. While the perspective is hers, the focus of the post express a certainty that there something wrong with Bachata. That is the first problem, an authoritative voice claiming a clear definitive answer to the problem of Bachata. Second, she blames sexuality, a moral judgement. And finally, she places the blame squarely on Men. Now, her perspective does offer insight into the way this woman, and by extension, a lot of other women feel about the way guys, not gentleman, take liberties with the dance and thus their partner.
Hi Stefani! However, saying that bachata sucks because there are some guys that kissed someone during a bachata dance amounts to saying that flying sucks because I did not like the sandwich they served last time. You do not stop flying just because you did not like the food on the last red eye, right? See my point? There are a lot of wonderful activities that are suitable for teenagers, e. There are reasons why people under 18 or 21 are not allowed into clubs. Notice, however, that most classical dances like tango or foxtrot require a more intimate hold than bachata or even kizomba.
So: who forces you to go to a club and dance tango or sensual bachata? Who forces you to accept a dance with a guy whoi is older than you if, as you think, all of them are creepy, which is a really weird generalization, only excusable due to lack of people knowledge? Even in a Latin club, you can dance Dominican bachata, if they play the right music. Also, normally, they teach you in classes how the girl can keep distance from the guy in a closed hold — the distance she creates can be pretty much anything, and no man will be able to force a closer hold than she really is willing to accept.
These are the basics. I suggest you wait some years, take classes, and then come up with a more mature judgement. Good luck! Actually, I found it quite shocking when you mentioned people were regularly kissing you on the mouth on dance parties. Almost never experienced that overseeing a crowd as a DJ here in West Germany. Nevertheless, I think you are right in most points. The sad thing, however, is that you tend to turn your back on the Bachata scene just because many people do not understand what Bachata actually is.
And yes, there is a Bachata Sensual factory behind that which primarily wants to make money and establish it as a brand. This is nothing bad per se but they underestimate the problem you mentioned. Nowadays, artists have to work against this movement in their classes. Such a well written article. Lack of respect equals lack of respects for oneself.
Know thyself first. Thank you Stefan. Bachata is for Latin Americans who can handle its sensuality and sexuality. Well, I suppose when you get to run to confession afterwards to ask forgiveness for the acts you portrayed on the dance floor, then you probably think what you did was fine. It makes me really freaking uncomfortable.
Thank you for the wealth of information that you have shared on your website! I want to take up Bachata, as it looks like a lot of fun, but this sounds scary. I hope you slapped the guy who kissed you on the mouth without consent or at least stepped hard on his foot! An article, about how a woman can better assert personal space be it Kizomba, Bachata or Zouk would be much appreciated! Is there any dance types that work in most social scenes? I agree: Bachata is not a good dance to learn, indeed.
Almost nobody is dancing it, so awful it is. I suggest you try minuet or pavane instead. They look very cool if done properly especially if you also put up a costume from the period. Ehhh… Well, dancing IS sexual. Good old waltz is extremely sexual it is much more sexual than kizomba, let alone bachata,because in waltz there is full body contact from toe to chest at ALL TIMES. Aerobics and jogging are a nice workout, too and nobody is watching, so you will feel completely safe and not in any way diminished in your rightful rights. You disparage other instructors women nonetheless!
Are you serious? You have some sort of goddess complex that all the social bachata dancers want you? Who is telling you to go do that? I have been a social dancer for over a decade in the LA area and can assure you, you are not all that hot for guys to be overcome with such passion as to want to kiss you because of the dancing. Perhaps you need to watch your or their level of intoxication before agreeing to dance.
And obviously you are enjoying the attention if you keep doing it! I know and have danced with hundreds of bachateros in the area and they are sensual, sexy and yet very respectful of women. They make more objectifying jokes than my girlfriends we are out having a fun time not writing article after article — see the list of your articles! No one is forcing you to dance! Oh Stefani, I am ashamed to see we share a name, at least the sound of it. You are critical of Ataca and Alemana and yet you seem to be the needy one trying to draw attention by writing pseudo intellectual, pseudo feminist crap!
Are you the Queen telling us why she will not dance because she has her panties in a bunch? Who cares? If you give it that title, an article is useful only if it offers solutions, which by the looks of it, should be therapy for you! And the reason for this is the performers and instructors who have strayed and given in to bachata sensual?
Go get a life and stop coming to salsa clubs. We do not want you around. Next you will write an article on how every time you turn on your computer, porn pops up. Those evil men at Apple and Microsoft make you do it, right? I guess you have never had a boyfriend or husband or brother or a male friend who dances. Your generalizations reflect on your racist, sexist attitudes so STFU. Considering your absurd reaction it is apparent that you recognized yourself in this article. The author is dead on.
For me, it makes me feel like some creepy voyeur when I witness such a display. Now, you might want to label me as an uptight, repressed, old man because of my attitude regarding your preferred dance style but you would be wrong. My wife and I both ride motorcycles. We attend adults-only motorcycle rallies where running around naked and open air sexual encounters are common. We were swingers. So, take your own advice and STFU!!! Now, you can, of course, organize a campaign trying to get people of the dance floors or trying to change the way they dance.
No one will really care, and I doubt that the sandwiches get any better. I think, if a guy kissed you, you drop him on the floor and walk away. And tell your girlfriends about what happened, and point this guy out to them. This is how you deal with it. Just the way you would deal with a bad sandwich on a plane. I think more often than not women could actually get away with this last idea of dropping men on the floor when they assault. Evocative article.
I appreciate it. My very first impression of bachata was negative along the lines you outline, that it seems too sexy. I also offer praise to La Rosa for their comment about not letting it stop you. I guess it may not be possible to dance enough in your scene if you take a policy of only dancing conservative or something, but in general I like the standard that says if you can circumscribe the negative with 2 or 4 sentences up front, do it and change the culture that way by showing the power of direct communication and simultaneously actively creating a micro community or at least a pool of like minded partners.
I like that even less. Yum: self aggrandizement, objectification of others, and binge drinking. I am relatively new to the scene, having only danced salsa for around a year. I did learn some Dominican Bachata, but observing a lot of sensual bachata on the dance floor has made me ask this question: What exactly is the difference between sensual and sexual? Interestingly, body rolls in hip hop and salsa — totally non-sexual.
Again, if it is just dancing, why would the sensual bachateros not dance like that with all followers? But what do you guys think? Is there a difference between sensual and sexual? Or is sensual just a euphemism for sexual bachata? Perhaps it has more to do with the mindset of the person you are dancing with. I can certainly understand how it would be extremely off-putting for females, and hard to address.
Thank you for writing this. How about a top ten? The problem is people seem to no longer have an interest in the traditional way of bachata which is essence is not a hard dance to learn being you can easily dance this with your mom but today, I would never dance bachata with my mom… NO WAY!!! Should I teach the new way or old way or try to combine the two.
The perfect analogy is a child wanting to eat sugar all day and you know it is bad for them and try to push vegetables and the child rejects it so you have to come up with ways to circumvent that. It is Speak up! It is as unacceptable on the dance floor as it is in the workplace. Better yet, get away from Sensual Bachata which sucks anyway and come the Dominican Republic and see how the real dancers do it, where your connection to your partner and to the music is everything! I have danced up close and personal with many Dominicans but have never been made to feel uncomfortable.
Great post and insights. Again thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I found a lot of useful tips from this post. I also adore Kizomba dance. Kizomba is slow and sensual. It is fun and amazingly interesting to do. It can keep you fit physically, for sure, but also, psychologically as it is a great stress buster. It is not only a dance form, it is an emotional and connecting piece of art. It is designed to make you and your partner feel closer and more connected emotionally. I want to say that the only reason I dance Bachata is because it is sensual and sexy.
Dominican Bachata? Not interesting or sexy to me. People with your kind of attitude should be kicked out of the dance scene. You have bigger problems in life than sexy dancing. I really enjoyed reading your article and appreciate that you shared the honest thoughts. I really appreciate you have put these into such beautiful words.
I have been through as traumatic experience in the Bachata community and the team I was on in St. I strongly agreed that on Bachata scene people emphasized too much of the look and image instead of the dance. Whenever I go to the club in St. Louis to dance, I feel most girls went there dressed up and be pretty, guys there watching and touching, a typical example of objectifying women.
While on the team, my team leader alas, they moved on Charlotte constantly made dirty jokes to the class which would definitely be strongly against the rules in professional teaching setting and the couple the leaders made a lot of drama by hooking up people on the team, leading the gossips around the group, trying to evoke jealousy among dancers, making people compete with each other… I loved someone on the team and they often failed to keep promise and paired him up with other dancers, then blamed me for being jealous or influencing their businesses.
As a teacher myself this is intolerable. I was suffocated, so I quitted. How ridiculous! Then after all that I go to congresses, dance clubs just trying to have fun. To me, dancing was my soul since youth, and I do many types of dancing. But I was not lucky to have a good experience in bachata starting off in a troublesome dance team, then having come across some bad experiences. Those all killed my joy of latin dancing. I have been in the scene for about 10 years now, have performed and watched the growing popularity and change of bachata over the years.
It is a dance I truly love and I listen to the music constantly, however, it saddens me how much I have grown to dislike it. I get scared now going to bachata nights simply because my body is treated so roughly that I have left the night feeling in need of a physiotherapist to help put my body back together. With the sexualisation part, I have watched many female teachers and have seen them voluntarily posing without leads and presenting themselves in overly sexual ways. I am truly grateful for this article though, for a long time I felt I was alone i this feeling, but its nice to see not only your article but also numerous comments below in agreement.
I was initially excited to discover a dance that was using some hip electronic music I like and a community that seemed open and welcoming. Cut to a dance class I went to tonight, there was something definitely off about the evening, and I think your article is on the nose describing how I felt. This is a young crowd mostly, to be fair, but I felt like their priorities were in all the wrong places.
There was a dark undercurrent of competition through the whole thing mostly eminating from the teachers who seemed to have different takes on the steps and no consensus in the room about the techniques. I was also dismayed by the lack of interest in origin and tradition, which I feel bordered on appropriation. There was no talk of the culture, which was another red flag for me. There was a fair amount of talk about connection, yet so many of the dancers in the room had trouble with eye contact, which made for an uncomfortable experience.
But I did feel like a few not all of the participants were using the moves to push boundaries. That is what it is. The main issue as I saw it was, as you so succinctly put it, valuing performance and flashiness is that a word? The demo after the dance class felt like a. This is just my perspective, I got a weird vibe and am pretty disappointed with the experience, not sure if I will be going back to another class any time soon.
You are spot on in what you write, but you let everyone off the hook. Everyone that contributes to what sensual has become is not to be blamed as you have repeatedly stated. Sensual is an European invention. Neither the music bad popular pop remixes nor the dance is anything that can recognize as bachata.
If people like and enjoy more power to them. As for about getting kissed on lips at almost every event as you alluded to, I am flabbergasted that you still patronized your local scene for as long as you did. I know many scenes, a regular at many dance events and travel for dancing often. Other than as an exception and rare occurrence, I have never seen anyone being kissed on dance floor against their consent. On those rare occasion when an aggressor indulges is such, he is quickly outcast or at least his notoriety preceded him.
More surprising is that you appear to dance a variety of dances, you stuck with the molesting sensual bachata scene. I feel the same about Zouk and Kizomba. When I see couples dancing thus I feel like a creepy voyeur peeping through their bedroom window while they are having sex. And, I avoid dance moves that make me feel like I am the one being spied upon during sex. When people start that kind of dancing my wife and I change out of our dance shoes and go home.
My musician friends who play for top Bachata acts are disgusted by Bachata Sensual. Bachata Sensual DJs for the most part have very little knowledge of the eras and of the hit songs that pertain to them. And the worst part is that Dominican and Puerto Rican youth are being turned off to Bachata thanks to Bachata Sensual. Our music was meant to be played in parties and was also meant to retain certain roots. If Bachata Sensual keeps growing, then Bachata is going to die for my people.
Dembow, Reggaeton and Latin Trap is the new wave with our youth. Agreed with Sedec. I am Spanish from Andalusia. If the lady likes you, as a male you can easily tell. Fellow: the opposite, is true! You dance with the girl. Its so easy to pick up, her vibes. And if there -are- no vibes from her side: guys, give it a rest.
At all. In fact, a drink at the bar, and a chance for her to get to know you, yes, YOU as a non dancer! Interesting post! This is further exemplified when the scene now has a club-mentality that if you dance with a girl more than once, it means you like her.
I also think the main Bachata Saturday hosts are a little far too indulgent in themselves and teach Bachata poorly in minimal space, attention and far too many people — this promotes poor techniques and fast food quality dancers. The hosts definitely need to present themselves and their scenes better and there are dance schools in London that promote amazing dance etiquette and attitude such as UKDC. Case in point, the Bachata scene needs to be less about routines and moves and more about musicality and dance etiquette. How did Bachata in North American and Europe get to become so sexualized?
True, in the DR, it had a bad reputation right at the beginning. Sexy dancing is fun with a GF or BF, but a random person? I am just waiting for the day that chicks start filing Title IX complaints in the club. My experience is pretty different, but that could be because I am from Australia where Bachata is only just starting to develop. I do like sensual style, but here there is a definite line over here or at least at my studio between sensual and sexual, and you get pulled up very quickly if you cross that line. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Maybe the women who think alike can make a difference?!
Hi from Munich, Germany. Aww, poor white girl. Stay home in your safe space sweetie. So I had to look up what sensual bachata is and I understand now. Salsa and bachata together. Your email address will not be published. This has to do with growth of the scene, for one. I would, as always, be eminently excited by and grateful for your thoughts. Previous post. Next post. Vickie May 18, pm Reply. Stefani May 18, pm Reply. La Rosa August 22, pm Reply. Stacey May 23, pm Reply. Jason May 24, pm Reply.
Viviana October 16, pm Reply. Suzie November 29, pm Reply. Robert Rice May 18, pm Reply. Remie May 19, am Reply. Robert, I feel you completely missed the point on this article. Mi May 19, pm Reply. Julio May 20, pm Reply. T May 20, pm Reply. Dear Robert, I see what you mean. I appreciate your comment.
Cheers from Vienna. Beto May 14, am Reply. Rose May 18, pm Reply. Arien May 18, pm Reply. GA May 18, pm Reply. Guile May 19, am Reply. Marie May 19, pm Reply. Romeo May 18, pm Reply. Nicole May 18, pm Reply. Pasquale May 18, pm Reply. La Chanica May 20, am Reply. Please, send me the link to your kizomba article when its done! Juan May 18, pm Reply. DturPato May 18, pm Reply. Zahira May 19, pm Reply.
V May 18, pm Reply. Micheal September 9, am Reply. How do I find a bachata class that teaches what you teach before I spend my money? Cesar May 18, pm Reply. I think you have a point, but Kizomba groups is worse. I hear, but I do not have personal experience from which to talk about it. Cesar May 20, pm Reply. Ryan May 19, am Reply. John martin May 20, pm Reply. GoodFella October 10, pm Reply. Stephan May 18, pm Reply.
Absolutely agree with this article. I still want to get better myself with Bachata, but not the fuckin on the dancefloor bachata. Liz May 18, pm Reply. Thanks for the read and putting my same thoughts onto the page. Gray May 18, pm Reply. Cristian May 19, am Reply. Pete May 19, pm Reply. Meagan May 19, pm Reply. Vilma May 19, am Reply. Vlad May 19, am Reply. Manuel May 19, pm Reply.
Anyways, way to bring a culture down to dust… smh. Hey, Get a sex change, become a guy. Then come back and tell me about asking before kissing. Who the fuck asks before a kiss? Way to kill the moment, you politically correct imbecile. Oh, and girls do the same. Ask before kissing?! And if you slugged me, you would be getting one back. I am in it for sex. No enchilada, I move on. Good for you, good for me. Get over yourselves.
No one is interested in your rants. Hector May 19, am Reply. Anonymous October 3, am Reply. AR May 18, pm Reply. I hope your bachata scene continues evolving, and reaches a new, more mature point soon! You go rock your rocker and let us have some fun. I am in it for sex, I am happy enough with it. I am a guy, and I am not ashamed of it. My advice to her is, leave. If the guys try to kiss you, why do you let it happen? Are you not leading them on? Karin January 6, pm Reply.
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Razvan January 6, pm Reply. Shyan May 19, am Reply. Wil May 19, am Reply. Mike May 19, am Reply. Yes, as if dancing was not about love, sex or show off. Jen May 19, am Reply. Thanks for proving her point, Mike. FrustratedMale May 19, am Reply. Double standards, and victim role play.
Its because she loves the attention and the sympathy. Ian A. December 29, pm Reply. Luz May 19, am Reply. Hi Stefani, Thank you very much for writing this! Thanks again for your reflections! That way, you will completely avoid sexualisation, and enjoy dancing on your terms. Alejandro Peca May 19, am Reply. Andrew Singleton May 19, am Reply. Julia May 19, am Reply. Emeka May 19, am Reply. Thanks strong word and advice for those who have ears.. You said it all.. Dominik May 19, am Reply. Liz May 19, am Reply. Liviu May 19, am Reply. Alex February 19, am Reply. Michal May 19, pm Reply. Sta May 19, pm Reply.
Dave May 19, pm Reply. Mark May 19, pm Reply. Alexander Mott May 19, pm Reply. Tim May 19, pm Reply. Chris May 19, pm Reply. Stefani May 19, pm Reply. Fausto Stubbs May 19, pm Reply. Mel Fe May 19, pm Reply. Leo Nambo May 19, pm Reply. Julian May 19, pm Reply. Stephanie May 20, am Reply. Thank you for writing this Stefani!
Anne May 20, am Reply. Omg yes. Thank you for so eloquently and rationally covering these points. Kelly May 20, am Reply. Hay Stefani! Dont Ever Stop Dancing! Lorrie May 20, pm Reply. Stefani May 20, pm Reply. Good for you Lorrie! Mike May 20, pm Reply. Mike May 21, pm Reply. Duna May 21, pm Reply. Michael May 22, pm Reply. Mike May 23, pm Reply. MariaBella B. May 20, pm Reply. Freddy Castillo Barry May 21, am Reply. Bachata sensual dance is not bachata dance but a fraud dance and scam dance……. Semanas Santa and Locas.
L May 21, am Reply. Jomayra May 23, pm Reply. Seriously dude? Under what other context would any of those things be ok? Razvan January 8, am Reply. Brandon May 21, pm Reply. Everything is about sex these days. Cindy May 22, pm Reply.
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JAS May 22, pm Reply. Stefani May 23, pm Reply. Azzy May 23, am Reply. I love this. Cubanisima May 23, pm Reply. Sara June 21, am Reply. Nitesh May 24, am Reply. Nick May 25, am Reply. Megan May 26, am Reply. DJ Vamp May 26, pm Reply. Michelle Hobman May 28, am Reply.
Latina June 26, am Reply. Jeff May 19, pm Reply. Ivan July 19, am Reply. Mermaid25 July 27, pm Reply. Just Thinkin September 16, pm Reply. Just Thinkin September 15, pm Reply. Or have I missed something? Becky October 1, am Reply. Stephanie October 1, pm Reply. Shawn November 20, pm Reply. Hey Stefani and everybody, great article and comments! Ads December 18, pm Reply. Interesting point Roah, the style I am being taught is different to yours! Helena November 30, am Reply. Shawn November 30, pm Reply. Guy Lovell December 28, am Reply.
I need to go into a time machine and travel back when bachata was just bachata…. Kizomba January 8, am Reply. Jason January 22, pm Reply. Sol April 20, pm Reply. Murfy January 23, am Reply. T February 4, am Reply. Just read your article and am truly grateful for it. Michael Feld February 12, am Reply. I was initially excited to discover a dance that was using some hip electronic music I like and a community that seemed open and welcoming Cut to a dance class I went to tonight, there was something definitely off about the evening, and I think your article is on the nose describing how I felt.
I will take license to be harsh and direct. Jeff Ervin May 19, am Reply. The question about the duration of the stay probably relates to the above-mentioned slight inferiority. Are you here as a tourist, or do you plan to be part of this society — somehow? Be smart Another question that often follows these is whether or not the expat visitor is considering learning the language. Something that the Dane knows takes quite a bit of effort, but also something that clearly signals a willingness to stay. All this demands a lot of expats to live and thrive in Denmark. It takes cultural intelligence not to read the brute communication as impolite, it takes a proactive approach since the Danes often will leave you alone unless you ask for help and advice, and it demands that you return the trust and honesty and welcome the Danish preference for consensus, equality and conflict avoidance.
This is how many Danes come across. Direct, a little tactless, critical. At least this is my experience after teaching and training thousands of expats in Denmark over the years. But it is also my experience that the Danes are sometimes misunderstood, and therefore need to be contextualised in their own culture, not in the culture of their visitors. They need to be interpreted correctly — not judged prematurely.
You need to be curious about their habits and explore their culture. They might not be able to explain to you why they do this and that, but make the Danes elaborate on their values, norms and odd habits and they will respond at their best — and appreciate the interest. Danes love it when someone has spotted them and noticed their existence.
They might be puzzled about why you choose this place, but deep down in their hearts they appreciate the attention. The inner Dane The directness, for example, derives from the Danish value of honesty and the adherence to straightforward communication instead of having to guess the meaning from the context. In Denmark the information is in the words — so the words convey the meaning, and not much else.
Likewise, Danes can seem reserved but are probably just respecting the privacy of the individual. Denmark is a place for very liberal attitudes towards things that in other cultures would be considered immoral. Danes can also seem naive. The lack of control everywhere and the somewhat hurried way of doing busi-. So take the time to get some insight into the culture, take from it what you like, and meet them halfway. I thought I was well prepared. I had read all the available information about Denmark, I had a job, I had worked with Danes before, I had lived in four other countries.
I expected the transition to be a piece of cake. That was my first big misunderstanding. Our expectations so often lead us astray, and we are disappointed when things turn out not as we expect. It might have been easier to move to Japan — I would have expected cultural difference, not been taken by surprise as I was in Denmark. Making sense of the incomprehensible Denmark is a very homogeneous place, and for this reason it is not that easy to grab, because a lot of the information is only implicit.
For internationals, who lack the information that Danes have, life in Denmark can sometimes be completely incomprehensible. This is why I became very involved in making Denmark understandable to non-Danes. All this information is shared in my two books. My second book, Business-Dances with Danes: Decoding Danish Workplace Culture, explains the unwritten rules of the workplace — why Danes do as they do at work, and what non-Danes can do in the situations we meet. Decoding Danish social rules Let me give you just a quick selection of the surprises I met in my first weeks:. Be prepared for all guests to come on the dot and therefore all at once.
You better be ready by the time you have invited them for. Guess what, I got a hefty fine. Decoding the Danish office Okay, I thought, I may not know all the social rules, but I have worked with Danes before albeit remotely , so at work I should be fine. Some examples:. I had not the faintest clue what they were for. I discovered that when someone wanted a coffee, they would ask their colleagues around if they. They would then go and fetch the coffees and bring them back in the green thing.
What a nice kind gesture!
I learned that this was one of the facets of hygge at work — with or without the green device. I learned that giving positive feedback to Danes is not always easy. How to work around the problem You will meet similar situations yourself which are connected with Danish culture. The question is always what you as a non-Dane can do. Here are some examples:. Mentioning that you are an expert in that topic or that you were the best in your team will not go down well with the egalitarian Danes. What to do?
One idea is to. Dagmar Fink Dagmar Fink is an expert on living and working in Denmark. She is the founder of the Worktrotter network www. Asking your Danish colleagues to go out for a beer will probably not succeed. Do they not like you? No, their not joining in has nothing to do with you personally. Most probably they have kids and as both partners work, they have to pick up the kids and go shopping so as to serve dinner at 6 pm.
In addition, they like to keep their work life separate from their private life. So go for a coffee with them at work. I found that all too often expats act on guesses about Danish work culture — that Danes are similar to Swedes or Brits, maybe even Germans. Many people start working, as I did, knowing only the headlines: that Danes are very egalitarian at work, that there are flat hierarchies, that hygge and humour play an important role as well as the work— life balance. But as we all know, in many situations it is the details that count. So are you surprised that there are so many misunderstandings?
And yes, sometimes even to make a fool of yourself. I tried to speak Danish with my colleagues using common phrases from the beginning, talking more and more as my vocabulary increased. I cannot tell you how often I produced a good laugh. What I said was completely wrong, but it helped me to get in touch with Danes, and speaking Danish can work wonders. Right after my start in Denmark, I was given the task of being project leader for building the IBM customer centre for Denmark.
Well, in Denmark people trust your capabilities and you get responsibilities early on. Looking back, in spite of all the palpitations that project gave me, it helped me to get in contact with so many IBM colleagues that Danish colleagues who had been in the company for years were surprised at how many people I greeted on the way to the canteen. I hope that my books and this article will help you to find your way more easily in Denmark and decipher faster what makes the Danes tick and how to get in touch with them.
We all develop methods of dealing with the unknown — in Denmark or anywhere else. Your efforts will be rewarded, and you can make living in Denmark into a great experience. Good luck, and all the best to you in your new Danish home! In the fall of , I was a PhD student in public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I was studying the effects of toxic cancer therapies on elderly patients.
The research group I worked with had just begun collaborating with colleagues at Aarhus University, and they were looking to hire a postdoctoral fellow starting in When I heard about this position, my heart skipped a beat. I was looking for a different postdoc experience, one that would expand my professional network, provide access to rich healthcare data for cancer research, and allow me to explore a new country and culture. This opportunity had it all.
So in February I arrived, excited about my upcoming adventure in Denmark but also with some concerns about what it would be like to live and work in another country. How to be time-effective One of the first differences I noticed working here was that people start early and leave early. On a normal workday my office is buzzing at 8am, but after 4pm there is not a soul in sight. It seems that the Danes value their healthy work—life balance. It means that my colleagues and I have time after work to exercise, see family and friends, prepare and eat dinner together, and enjoy hobbies and interests outside of work.
This work—life balance is made possible in part because Danes tend to work very efficiently, and in my experience the workplace plays a significant role in that efficiency. The offices and meeting spaces at my workplace are bright, light and simply furnished, with clutter and distractions kept to a minimum. This helps people to be productive. I find it a great way to catch up with colleagues before the weekend. Great colleagues But one of the most rewarding aspects of working in Denmark, in my experience, is my colleagues, some of whom I believe will be lifelong friends.
I was warned before my arrival that the Danes tend to be reserved and not particularly welcoming to foreigners, but in my workplace I found the opposite. My colleagues were warm and generous and within the first few months I had been invited to the homes of five colleagues to meet their families and friends. Over this year, with my colleagues I have attended salsa classes, worked on a farm, experienced the julefrokost or Christmas lunch, gone to concerts, eaten out, gone for ice cream, and seen movies. A shared lunch every day Another distinct feature of my workplace is that each day at 12pm, everyone in the department — including students, postdocs, and faculty — sits down to eat lunch together.
We lay the table with plates, cutlery and glasses, and for 30 minutes everyone enjoys some social time together. The conversation takes place in Danish, but my colleagues have been more than happy to help. Thus began what is probably a very familiar scenario for a lot of expats in Denmark. With my limited CV experience I found a part-time job in an Irish bar by going bar to bar the Gaelic connection helped , and later I got a full-time warehouse job through a chance encounter with someone I met in the bar.
I joined a local football team because I thought it would be a good way to make friends, and I started taking Danish lessons. It was a slog. Danish lessons, work, and football left me pretty busy, and Danish is hard. The relationship broke up and I headed home — vowing never to have a Danish girlfriend again. But during my time back in Scotland, I realised that I needed a decent education to be able to achieve my career aspirations.
The difference this time was that I actively made a decision to come back to Denmark. One of the first things I did on getting back was to head for the local rugby club in Aarhus. I had a solid social network, a steady job, and I already knew the language. Now to figure out what to study…. Getting smart I was interested in marketing and advertising and wanted something I could see a future in, so I chose the business school. They had a course on marketing and management communication in English — perfect! Making it happen Coming to the end of my BSc I started to recognise the need to get some relevant experience — something that, along with networking, would turn out to be a massive help in securing a full-time job in the future.
I was lucky enough to get a student job at Arla Foods in the last year of my BSc, and rather unwittingly I started a snowball effect of jobs and placements. This was great experience for the CV. Then a chance encounter with a marketing manager at the Christmas dinner led to a temporary full-time position within marketing when I graduated.
The right time, the right place, I guess. My contract at Arla expired, and I was competing in the overcrowded job market. After several months of application-writing and a couple of interviews, my network kicked in again, only this time from my studies. They had a new position opening, so I So I did. I got the interview, it went really well, and I got the job. First, learn the language. It makes things so much easier when making Danish friends, but also shows that you are making an effort to fit into Danish society.
Then, join a multicultural club or association. Meeting both Danes and internationals in an informal setting really helps to make friends and break down the barriers that sometimes exist between Danes and internationals. It also helps for a smoother transition into Danish society while keeping that international identity. Finally, build a network of social and professional contacts, and use it. Just remember to return the favour if they ever ask for anything.
I hope you enjoyed reading my story. If nothing else, it shows that it is possible to succeed in Denmark as a foreigner — even if it did take me two attempts. Denmark — an exotic land far away, where fairytales happen and it is always cold — was not a part of my life plan. But I am here, and I love it. I am a medical doctor from Monterrey, Mexico. I first worked in neuroscience on a community service research project just before I finished my degree.
After two more years as I was thinking about specialising in neurology, circumstances pointed me towards taking a plane, leaving my country and looking for other available opportunities. I realised that doing a PhD was important for the way I questioned things and confronted my medical reality every day with patients. Via Spain to Denmark So having sorted that out, I looked for an opportunity for an interesting neuroscience project in Spain.
Through a Danish friend I got an interview with my future supervisor at Aarhus University. I was very nervous and was not sure what to expect, but thankfully I was invited to participate in a project to set up a new laboratory at the Centre of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience at Aarhus University. So in November I officially left my family, girlfriend, friends and culture behind me, and took on this new challenge in my life. I was warned that I should finish my medical training before leaving, but I had a hunch, and I moved to Denmark.
I missed home, of course, but I was excited by the fascinating, unknown challenge that awaited me. And I was lucky. By the time I moved to Denmark, two good friends of mine were also doing PhDs at Aarhus University, six months ahead of me. I really felt their support when I arrived. They introduced me to people, some of whom are still friends, and also to Danish culture. It helps you meet people and the Danes like it when you try, as they like to help. I get support from my Danish friends talking and sharing in their language, and I am very motivated to finish my courses.
If I had to describe the Danes in two words, they would be different and fascinating. I was expecting to make Danish friends from the first day, but it was hard. I learned that the Danes are like coconuts — with a hard shell, but really soft on the inside. They are hard to get to know, but once you win their trust and friendship, you will feel you have won a true friend, a friendship that might be forever. Nowadays, I know that my Danish friends are people I can rely on if anything happens.
The culture is different from mine, but something I really like is that the Danes respect you — respect how you think, what you believe in, how you do what you do. For me that is a very important value. Next, the future And now my girlfriend has moved to Denmark to do her PhD too.
I see a fantastic road ahead where I want to learn the language, finish my qualifications and, most important, feel at home. I believe I would like to stay some time here. I feel that I have two homes — Mexico and, now, Denmark. And it was different The first surprising thing when I arrived was the weather. Coming from a city where it is warm and sunny most days of the year, I had real difficulty understanding that I was moving to the opposite.
I arrived in dark, rainy November. I am still not per cent adapted to this, but I am getting there. I am still learning Danish. I started as. My job journey I first came to Aarhus in January In the middle of winter in Minnesota, we packed up our lives, put most of our possessions into storage, and said goodbye to friends and family before embarking on our expat adventure.
I knew I would have a lot to learn once we arrived. There, I was introduced to the Work in Denmark spouse programme, which provides seminars for accompanying spouses and partners to help people like me learn about the Danish labour market. It also gave me the chance to meet people who were in the same situation as I was.
This was the first time I realised how important networking was because, for the first time, I found myself without a network to rely on. I had mostly been searching for jobs only using online job search engines. The essential network Shortly after arriving, we went to the International Citizen Service to register ourselves in Denmark. It became clear that the more people you know, and the more people who know what you are good at, the They knew some people working in my area and helped me to contact them.
These contacts were helpful because several people were willing to meet with me and I learned more about the Danish public health system. Months later his colleagues are still enquiring about my job search and helping me think through new ideas for the job search and application process. Finding a way in Another challenge I faced here was figuring out what businesses and institutions in Aarhus did work in my field.
In this case, the job centre in Aarhus was helpful in giving me the names of organisations to research and contact, along with ideas for organisations that take volunteers through which I might have the opportunity to expand my network. A few times I have been able to meet with someone from a public health-related organisation. The frustration I have faced in these cases is that often the organisation says I have an interesting profile and they want to talk to me, but they are not sure how I would fit into their workflow and they would have to talk to their colleagues and get back to me.
This happened especially when I was looking for an internship or volunteer work in my field, just to get a foot in the door. One would think giving away free labour would be easier! This has been the most frustrating part of my job search. Help them think about where you could create value for their company or organisation. No single path One thing that has especially helped me manage any frustration I feel is managing my expectations. Accepting that finding a position in my field will take time and that taking other short-term positions outside of my immediate field, but still within my areas of interest, would also be beneficial to me was an adjustment I made in my way of thinking.
Recently, I discovered a company in Aarhus through one of the contacts I met at a Work in Denmark seminar. They were looking for native English speakers for part-time telephone interviewing work, so I submitted an application. Soon after I was called back for an interview and hired the same day. This position has allowed me to become familiar with a Danish workplace and has expanded my network.
By keeping this in mind, I have learned much about myself both personally and professionally, and have the confidence that I will get to where I want to be. And in the meantime, my journey continues. You are expected to do what you like My name is Damien. It was easy, in accepting that destiny, to move automatically towards a future that had been set long ago. That predestined future evaporated in another country, in Denmark.
And here I learned to choose for myself. After so many years in a country, Denmark really feels like home for me now. I grew up in an educational system based on hierarchy. If you got into one of the top engineering schools, Back home, my engineering school was my home and my family. But in Denmark, people. And what a surprise — I got one! It took me a whole year to understand that, by which time it was too late to do anything differently. If I were to start all over again, I would choose what I really wanted to study instead of doing it the classical, generalist way that is favoured in France.
But though I thought I had learnt from that experience, I still had not quite got the point. My French engineering school was prestigious, so finding a job would not be an issue — I just had to pick the one I wanted. Yes, but in Denmark they had never heard of my famous school. And at job interviews — when I got one — I had a hard time explaining what I wanted to do and why I would love the job in question. At a time when unemployment was at a record low, it took me six months and a course in job-seeking to, finally, get my first job.
And then, instead of applying for jobs I thought I could do, I just started applying for jobs I really wanted to do, exciting jobs. Following my interests Once I started to do what I really liked doing, I had my best experiences ever in Denmark. Instead of blaming the Danes for not being how I expected them to be, I chose to follow my interests. When I arrived in Aarhus I knew nobody, and I wanted to get involved in local life and connect with other people besides my colleagues, so I started to look into social volunteer work.
I sent an application to an organisation running a drop-in centre for young people. In my early university years back in France I had had extremely good experiences with volunteering in various organisations, so I was sure this would work for me in Denmark as well. I started. As often in Denmark, there are a lot of rules in the associative world, but it is also very well organised: so apart from the usual shifts at the drop-in centre, all the volunteers get involved in planning activities for the users, management, PR, HR and activities for the volunteers.
After a few months I had a huge new group of friends and was forced to turn down lots of invitations to social events that I could not get to fit in my calendar. I got heavily involved with the municipality and with other stakeholders the association has to deal with, like the social ministry and other associations with a similar target group.
I got a refreshed picture of Danish society and how it works. But with time, I think I made a few of their values my own. Here, you are expected to do what you like. So why not do it? Denmark has a very strong tradition of volunteer organisations. Denmark has had the highest employment rate for women in the European Union since Fathers are entitled to 2 weeks at the time of the birth. The remaining 32 weeks can be divided between the parents. There are certain structural realities built into the Danish systems for work and school that will determine how you and your children do.
If you pay attention to them, you can get on with building a future in Denmark, because the family will be happy.
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If the international school does not suit you, there is Danish school — the folkeskole and the private schools. We wanted them to be part of a neighbourhood, to be able to bike round to their friends. So they went into the local folkeskole, a lovely place so lovely that we bought the house for the school. Our seven-year-old went into first grade after three years in international school! It worked, because they were young enough to join the classes while there was still room to manoeuvre and before the relationships were set in stone.
She made good friends herself, though she says it took her a couple of years, but for me it was too late. So if you go into folkeskole as internationals, go in at the beginning. There are more than 15 private schools in Aarhus, for example, and each one offers something different. A couple are academically demanding very old-fashioned in Denmark , one prioritises foreign languages, one builds creativity through arts and theatre, and several are just smaller, more intimate institutions that will pay attention to your child and not expect them to fit a statistical norm.
You make an appointment to meet the school principal, you see around the school, and you get on the waiting list. Some of these waiting lists are long, so you have to be quick. A great plus. This takes about two months to basic fluency, and your children find their place in the class in the process. Of course, now their lovely local social life is a thing of the past. They have to bus across the city to school and to play dates, something they continually complain about.
But it is safe and it works. Make that good Danish As for us spouses, who stepped out of the world we knew and expected to build a new world, there are certain realities that we need to appreciate to be happy in Denmark, counter to a few myths that are still circulating.
Making certain choices in your new life will open doors which will otherwise remain closed. Learning Danish is essential of course, but unless your field is something sexy and technical or you are lucky enough to find work in an English-speaking environment, your Danish needs to be good enough to persuade colleagues they can work with you. Unlike Britain, where experience is far more precious than qualifications, in Denmark, not having qualifications will prevent you from using your experience. Take a deep breath, and qualify.
The lonely entrepreneur You can also take the self-employed route. This is very fashionable at the moment and there is lots of support in Denmark right now. Kind people will explain the remarkably simple process you should follow. But though this is a way to show what you can do, it is lonely being self-employed.
But while setting up your own business is good for your pride, it is less productive for the joint bank balance. Build a base with other families like you And all the while, it is really, really important to build a base around what you are, with other families like you. If your language qualifies, send your child to the EU mother-tongue classes in your language they are free run by the municipality.
I took a little job teaching those classes to English—Danish children including my own , and suddenly we discovered a whole seam of like-minded families who loved to be English or Irish together sometimes. Those families are our lifeblood. The Dutch have Dutch school on Saturdays; so do the Poles. So find where your other nationals go, and link up with them. Once these things are in place, you can get on with running a family.
You can enjoy the glorious strangeness of the Danish cultural experience, marvelling as we did at the attraction of swimming in freezing cold water with jellyfish while camping, because the Danes feel too nakedly pagan about the great outdoors to stay in hotels, not to mention the national male preoccupation with do-it-yourself home improvements.
But you will be happy, because the things that matter most are there. I met wonderful people, spent a warm summer full of activity, and was completely fascinated by the Danish lifestyle and how calm and organised everything was. Back in Brazil I thought, Denmark is definitely a place I would like to live!
Well, twenty years later I spent a weekend in Copenhagen with a friend from that period by that time I was working and living in Madrid. And that weekend I met the man who is now my husband. After some months of trips back and forth, we decided to be together for real. So I left pulsating Madrid, to live the beautiful love story that was just beginning. A mixture of hope and fright I arrived in Aarhus in the cold, dark, silent November — completely different from that warm, bright summer. But I was so in love, so happy, that I decided not to pay attention to these details and determined to see the good side of being in a new city.
In the first weeks everything was completely new and I was fascinated. I started at Danish language school, so important for meeting people and building a social life. After a time I had seen everything new, but things turned really exciting — because, after some months living here, I discovered I was pregnant. A mix of happiness and fright prevailed. How could I be having a baby so far away from my family and my doctor? I was very apprehensive about how the antenatal care was going to work out, how the doctors were going to treat me.
All I knew about pregnancy was from my friends back home. And in Brazil, if you want good treatment, you pay for it. I had also heard that in Europe In Brazil, for a lot of reasons, natural births are very uncommon. So I was already preparing my speech to persuade the obstetrician to give me a caesarian section.
There was no way in the world I was going to have a natural birth. The reality Finally, my first appointment with the doctor arrived. I had so much to ask about my baby and how things were going that I prepared a list of questions. I thought, as in Brazil, I would have plenty of time to ask and discuss everything on my list. To my surprise, the consultation took 15 minutes. Just when I thought of getting the list out of my pocket, I was already shaking hands goodbye.
At first I was furious. How come it was so fast?! But I calmed down, and my husband promised me we would Google the doubts later. Then, still not comfortable or confident enough about the health system, I decided to talk to a Brazilian friend who has lived here for seven years and has two children. That was a wise decision. After our long chat, I could see that in Denmark pregnancy was seen as the most natural thing in the world — so it was treated accordingly.
The long-distance support group Other appointments came — not as many as I wanted, I have to say — and slowly I started to feel more comfortable with it. I could feel that the doctor and midwife knew what they were talking about. I was fascinated by their practicality and objectivity, so I decided to write a blog for my friends in Brazil. They were amazed at my posts and my stories. In Brazil mothers have at least six scans, and the more cautious have one every month. I take the initiative After some months, I was confident and happy. Everything was going perfectly, I was used to the 38 But I was still very worried about the natural birth.
Of course I tried to talk to the midwife about a C-section, but she literally changed the subject every time I mentioned it. It was clear that it was not an option in my case because things were going so well, and sooner or later I had to get used to the idea.
So I decided to get as informed as I could. I bought all the books, read all the blogs, watched all the programmes about it and even did pregnant aqua yoga. For them what I had been experiencing was so amazing that they were waiting for the grand finale. And so was I. And then, in less than three hours of pain, emotion, fear, and all the most amazing feelings, I gave birth to my beautiful little girl Maria. Yes, she was one of my achievements here. The best one I can say, but for sure not the last.
The international school was our culture shock One day my husband came home and said he had been offered a job in Denmark. So we visited Denmark for the first time in our lives in the spring holiday. It was windy and rainy in Aarhus, much colder than Budapest and so much smaller, but Legoland was just an hour away, it was light till 9pm, and the seashore was wonderful. Somehow, from the first moment we fell in love. From book bags … It was not an easy decision to make. My husband and I had good jobs and a comfortable life with our two children in Budapest.
The kids went to a traditional state school in the heart of Budapest and received a traditional education. By this I mean there were 30 children in each class, they took heavy backpacks to school every day filled with books, they had regular tests and marking started from age eight. There was no question that the children would go to an international school. One reason was that their mother tongue is Hungarian — not a widely spoken language, to say the least — and we believe that English is the key that opens the door to the world.
Another was that they would meet other cultures, become internationally minded and experience a more modern, less traditional education. I have to say that it was the international school that was our true culture shock — in the best sense — moving to Denmark. It did not look like a school so much as a kindergarten which at that time it was, as the rest of the school was about to open. Walking among the miniature chairs and tables, we were not convinced that this was the school for our children.
Then we talked to the school principal, and our jaws dropped. As she told us about the International Baccalaureate primary years programme we felt, yes, this is it, this is twenty-first-century education! The kids work on iPads in school, there are no textbooks or grades in the primary years up to age 11, the curriculum is structured around units of enquiry, and instead of doing exams the children have to do presentations on projects.
The children are assessed on an individual basis, so even if they come from different schools and different countries, they are judged by their progress during their studies. But what about English? How would they make friends? And all my worries were nonsense. They had a great time from the first day.
In the first weeks they sat and listened all day. They were exhausted. Just try sitting all day without understanding or speaking a word! But I was prepared for that: I was patient and gave them support and was their best friend until they found their own. It took them three months to start speaking a kind of play English, and another three months to understand the lessons. ESL helped a lot, and socialising with the classmates was just as important. When I went into 42 How could he do that when it had taken me nearly ten years to learn English to an acceptable level?
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My daughter, a happy little fish in the big ocean, just decided to go with the flow. So she made friends with everyone in class, went to a dance club, went to a badminton club and, to our surprise at the end of the half term, was elected to the student council — all without being able to express herself well yet in English!
And now, my turn … So now that the children are settled and their education is on the right track, it is time for me to face the next challenge: finding a job — without speaking Danish. Wish me luck! We have more time as a family I had known my Danish colleagues for some years when we came to Denmark. I had visited the company regularly while working in the sister company in France, and that was how I caught a glimpse of a quality of life which was the germ of the idea.
We already speak two languages at home my wife is Franco-Spanish , and we had always thought that we would like to try living in another culture.