I attended my school’s last ples on Friday night and thought I would offer some closing thoughts about them.
1) I love the egalitarian nature of a ples. Anyone and everyone comes. Grandparents, parents, friends, younger siblings. The only requirement it seems is you should know someone at the school. Dancing happens throughout the night and it is almost exclusively the pleasant, romantic type of a happy couple or the fast paced excitement of people who actually know how to dance. The grinding that is so popular (and explicit) in the states is nowhere to be seen. As a teacher told me on Friday though, of course this isn’t the whole picture. The main hall was the room for the “mummies and daddies” as he put it. Downstairs a disco type area was set up for students. I never went in but what went on there might be a bit different from what I generally saw.
2) Czech’s love of alcohol was in full effect. Beer is truly a part of the culture here. Many towns have their own local brewery and many people drink copious amounts. At restaurants you generally get more beer for the same price or even cheaper than a bottle of water. IDs are never checked anywhere. As a Czech explained to me “It’s illegal to buy alcohol if your under 18, so why would you try?” Plus I imagine the desire to make money trumps the desire to check someone’s ID and refuse a sale. I saw this first hand when in the middle of a ples a student asked me to dance. She seemed nice enough but as soon as we got to the dance floor I realized she was absurdly drunk. Needless to say it was an awkward few minutes.Getting Czechs to not drink would take away one of the things that is deeply rooted in their culture. At the same time I think it is good to be here as a younger than average teacher who stays sober for an entire evening even after the champagne toast with the students.
3) Midnight surprises are delightful, entertaining and so entirely over-the-top that they would NEVER happen in the states.
In closing, living in a foreign country can be kinda neat…