Carnaval in Brazil: DEFINITELY the Best Place to Be a Man

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Brazil is totally crazy during carnival! 4 cities, 10 days, and 63 girls. I learned to dance samba, lambazouk, sertanejo universitario, and arrocha. Does it get any cooler than that? The trip was unreal. I got a chance to visit Brazil a year ago and absolutely loved the country, the carnival, and the people. Back then, I attended the famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro and was hanging out in Sao Paulo area. This year I decided to do pre-carnival in Rio, carnival in Salvador, after-carnival in Porto Seguro, and dance classes in Sao Paulo. First, you will read about my adventures. Next, lessons learned (e.g., how to kiss many girls during carnival). Enjoy!

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Wednesday

My flight to Rio was rather long. First, Boston to New York, then to Sao Paulo, and then finally Rio. Very tiresome trip. As I was waiting in New York to board the plane, I already had a feeling that the trip will be great. Brazilian girls were giving me noticeable looks and were approaching me/brushing my arms to make sure that I notice them. It quickly brought back my memories from the previous trip. They like my looks, it’s no secret. I like that they are straightforward, it’s no secret.

Thursday

I got to Rio around noon. Time is money, however. Immediately after checking-in at the hostel, I went to visit the Sugarloaf mountain. It is a famous landmark of Rio. The view from there over the city is stunning.

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Here are some tips that can save you some money. What people call the Sugarloaf mountain consists of the actual Sugarloaf mountain and Urca hill. First, the best view is from the (lower) Urca hill just before the sunset. Typically, people take the cablecar to visit the mountain. Although the cablecar is necessary to visit the Sugarloaf, you can climb the Urca hill on foot. Further, if you leave the mountain after 7pm, the cablecar ride is free.

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After visiting the mountain, I came back to the hostel to make myself ready to party. As last year, I started the night off with a couchsurfing meeting. It’s a great event where you get the opportunity to mingle with international folks. Interestingly, not everyone is there for the carnival. I got my first Brazilian caipirinha this year and met some Russian girls who are now living in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, I had to leave the meeting early, because I scheduled a samba dance class at 9pm.

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The class was a bit delayed (Brazilian time). As I was waiting for the class, I met a cute girl working there as a receptionist. I guess, she quickly realized that I’m a gringo. She didn’t speak English. My Portuguese terribly deteriorated. We chatted using Google translate and exchanged contacts very quickly.

The samba class eventually started. It was a lot of fun. The teacher, Max, was very effective. He showed us samba and some forro moves. After the class we went to the largest and the most famous samba club, named Scenarium. It wasn’t easy to practice the new moves, but, in the end, it was a good pre-carnival night that warmed me up before all the forthcoming craziness of carnival.

Friday

That was the day when I went on a free walking tour in Rio de Janeiro. On the one hand, the tour was very informative and we got to learn a lot about Brazilian history. On the other hand, it felt like going back in time. Last year I was staying at Lapa (Rio’s party district). This is where we were hanging with the tour. I was a bit tired after the previous day but somehow recovered later with more caipirinhas. Soon I discovered that the best caipirinhas are with passion fruit and kiwi.

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In the evening I went to a bloco (street party) at Gloria. We were supposed to meet up with Fred, a very cool dude whom I met at a bloco party last year. Unfortunately, due to problems with my phone we were unable to find each other. Fortunately, we were able to meet up later at a private party. Getting into the private party wasn’t as easy as I expected. You see… in Brazil many buildings are heavily guarded. I needed to talk to the guard so that he opens the gate and allows me to enter. The guy didn’t speak English and had no idea what I wanted. Initially, he didn’t open the door. I quickly spotted three girls with a dog. They were going to one of bloco parties. One of the girls looked like a middle higher class Brazilian. Very cute. I was sure she speaks English. I asked for help. She smiled (Brazilian girls have fantastic smiles!) and dealt with the guard. I was on my way to the party. Straight from the party we went to Fred’s club. He introduced me to many people. Brazilians are very friendly and they love gringos. Many people wanted to talk to me. At the club I got a chance to improve my arrocha skills thanks to Fred’s girlfriends. The night was another good event to get ready for Salvador, my next stop.

Friday

The legendary carnival in Salvador is also the biggest party in the world. It attracts over 2mln people! That’s where I was heading. Getting there from Rio takes two hours by air. I must say that the airline TAM, that I was flying with throughout my trip in Brazil, has the most beautiful personnel I have seen. Well done TAM. As I was waiting for the plane, I wrote a bunch of postcards. Nice collection, eh?

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I made it to Salvador. I took a cab from the airport to my couchsurfing host, Flavio. The ride took two hours. On the way, the driver was playing my favorite Brazilian music sertanejo. I said I like it and he gave me the CD he was playing. Thanks dude! During the ride, I could see incredible crowds everywhere on the streets. I felt like I belong to this place! We finally arrived at Flavio’s apartment. He was a fantastic host and had over ten international folks there! Everyone was already in the party mode.

After a short pre-party, we went to the actual carnival in Barra. That’s the circuit where all the cool, young, and beautiful people hang out. We were instructed to go out with empty pockets, because pickpocketing is common. For that reason you won’t see many pictures from the actual carnival. I left my phone at the apartment. Use your imagination and let it fill in all the missing details.

The carnival can be enjoyed in three ways:

  1. Camarote. A closed area with tribunes from where you merely observe the carnival. It is the most secure, most expensive, and most boring way of experiencing the carnival. Typically, you’d see older crowd there. All you do is just watching.
  2. Bloco. It is a semi-closed street party that slowly moves along a 5km-long street. Each bloco consists of two monstrous trucks with live bands. There are ropes between the trucks that mark the bloco area.  It is guarded by tens or hundreds of (typically poor) people. Inside the bloco everyone is dancing and having fun. To get into a bloco, you need to buy an abada (t-shirt). The good thing is that it’s pretty safe inside blocos and you meet up people who are wealthy enough to afford an abada.
  3. Pipoca (popcorn). The cheapest option. You follow blocos but you’re outside the marked area. In principle, you party next to the party. That way you can enjoy the carnival without paying for it. The downside of pipoca is that you should be very careful, because fights occur often. If that happens, try to get away from the area. It does become dangerous. Military police quickly gets into action and they beat everyone. These guys have bad faces, never smile, and are very aggressive. Almost as if they wanted to provoke fights. It is important that in pipoca you don’t do sudden body movements and you’re not stiff. Just keep dancing and be loose.

Flavio knows how to roll during the carnival. We didn’t buy abadas, so we were doing pipoca. At first we were just observing, chatting, and walking around. Soon I learned that an important tradition in Salvador is to kiss girls. The more beautiful girls, the better. And Salvador was chalk-full of them!

At the beginning I wasn’t sure how to operate. I looked a bit confused, because it was my first night in Salvador. Juliede, Flavio’s housemate asked if I’m shy or something. Then, without much thinking, I spotted a beautiful blond Brazilian girl, got my shit together, and approached her. How? First, established eye contact (Brazilian girls do that all the time), then smiled, and said that she is beautiful. Before I said anything else, she already grabbed me and we were making out. How cool is that? Later I learned that she’s from the south of Brazil – this is where you can meet blondes. 

After the first approach, something clicked in my brain. Since then I was approaching all the girls that I liked. Blondes, brunettes, girls with mothers (of course you want to go for the daughter), girls alone, and in groups. Few of them said no. Brazilian girls seem to be very comfortable with men approaching them (unlike girls, e.g., in Canada). Oftentimes, girls were grabbing my hand or my face to kiss me. Things quickly got more crazy. There was a group of three girls. I kissed the three of them at the same time. In our couchsurfing group we had one French guy, Guillaume. He is extremely fun and cool. He was an expert when it comes to approaching mothers with daughters. He was pretty effective at that. Once, it was entertaining to see how a mother was preventing him from making out with her teen daughter. Another time there were two girls. He started talking to the better looking one. Then he said I’m from France (with a French accent). When the other girl heard that, she smiled and was giving huge thumbs up to the better looking one. One second later, Guillaume was making out with the lady. He’s legendary!

The night was very long. We ended up the night dancing in the rain. It was extraordinary! During the first night, I kissed 17 beautiful girls in total. I was pretty happy about the result. Now, the important thing is that I genuinely appreciated each and every girl that I kissed. Each had something unique in her. It’s a beautiful thing when two strangers meet up and make out before chatting. That’s the Brazilian way. Very sexy and intriguing. Chatting before kissing, on the other hand, kills the vibe.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

After the first day I already knew that Salvador was my ultimate couchsurfing experience. We woke up around 3pm. We were getting ready to participate in a very traditional bloco of Filhos do Ghandi. That’s how you roll:

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What is this whole thing about? The bloco is a huge men-only parade. Girls love to follow the bloco (thanks for the tip, Teresa!). You walk around the circuits, sing, drink alcohol, dance, and spray the perfume. If you look at the picture, you can see that each man has beads on them. I had at least 30. The idea is that girls want to kiss you to get a bead. And that’s what you do: you kiss girls and give them the beads.

A very important remark here. I don’t know why, but some guys try to catch the girl by offering the bead first and only after would they go for the kiss. That’s super lame in my opinion. Why? I’ve seen it so many times that guys were trying to catch girls, but instead, the girls just took the bead and the guys got no kiss. What a waste. What you want to do is the opposite: first a very good kiss. Only if the kiss was good enough, offer her the bead and gently put it on her neck.

We were hanging out like that for three nights. Every day the schedule was the same: wake up, dress up, participate in the parade, kiss all the girls that you like, and party till early morning (6am at least).

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The perfume is of the smell of lavender. Most girls hate it, but it’s OK to spray it on them. Less attractive girls will ask you to spray the perfume on them if they cannot get a kiss. Also, poor guys who guard the ropes would be happy to smell like lavender.

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Each and every night I had some amazing kisses. Once it was a darker skinned girl who already had, maybe, ten beads (most girls would have one, maximum two). She was very beautiful. Flavio got us into a camarote and this is where I made out with her. Another day it was an unforgettable kiss with a Bahiana (a girl from Bahia). It was very soft, passionate, and gentle. Yet another one was with a girl whom I spotted in an abada. I pointed my finger at her so that she comes to me. She did the same to me. I wasn’t sure what to do, because I was doing pipoca and the rope was guarded. It wasn’t even a second while one of Flavio’s buddies yelled: GO!!! and forcefully pushed me under the rope. I quickly got underneath, caught the lucky girl, and she delivered a sweet kiss. In the meantime, the guards were trying to separate us and kick me out. Everyone was watching. Love is everywhere! I must say that Flavio’s buddies, who we were hanging with, are fantastic wingmen. They would help you to catch any girl. That’s the spirit!

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By the third day of Filhos do Ghandi my costume smelled horribly (I didn’t have time to wash it). What’s worse, last day there was no water in the apartment. The whole day I was pretty dirty and smelly. What would you do? Portuguese shower! (For some reason Brazilians call it French shower.) Use a lot of perfume and you’re good to go. And so we went. Again, we were kissing girls left and right. If the girl likes you, no matter how bad you smell, she’ll be happy to experience you during the carnival. But be careful, some girls feel bad when you don’t want to kiss them. Once I was approached by two very cute girls. After so many kisses I somehow didn’t care whether we make out or not. The two girls were right in my face staring at my eyes. I was looking at the live band. Then I looked at the girls and smiled, but turned to the band again. What happened then? She grabbed me by the balls and forcefully kissed in the cheek. I found it unexpected, yet entertaining.

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I know that the girls liked me a lot. Pretty much every girl that I kissed, and every that wanted to kiss me, said: que lindo! bonito! (how beautiful! nice!) It’s great to be a good looking guy in Brazil. When kissing so many girls, an important thing is to disinfect your mouth often. What do you do? Use vodka! It works like mouthwash and kills all the bacteria. As you dance and move a lot, you shouldn’t get drunk.

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Wednesday

That was my last day in Salvador. Huge thanks to Flavio, Ronaldo, and Guillaume for the fantastic couchsurfing and carnival experience. It was a pleasure to hang out with you guys!

There is no doubt that carnival in Rio is very different from the one in Salvador. Rio has a traditional carnaval with costumes, samba, small blocos. It’s pretty fun. Perhaps, the only more crazy place is Lapa where you can kiss some girls. It is nothing, however, compared to Salvador. That’s the ultimate experience. The party is humongous and it can be as crazy as you make it. Arguably, it attracts younger and better looking crowd. That’s where you meet cool Brazilians who love to party. The amount of parties is incredible. You see lots of famous Brazilian singers giving live shows from bigger-than-life trucks.

Going back to reality. I was sleeping almost the whole day. I couldn’t party anymore. In the evening we were chilling at the beach. I was also getting ready for my next stop: Porto Seguro. I had to wake up at 4:30am to get to the airport.

Thursday

I took the first flight in the morning to Porto Seguro. I had never heard about this place before, but Moises, one of my best Brazilian friends, recommended it. Porto Seguro is a small beach resort where Brazilians spend their vacations. What’s special about Porto Seguro? They host an after-carnival called Carnaporto Axe Moi. Moises said I would love it. I trust him with my life, so I went there.

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As soon as I got to Porto Seguro, I checked in at my hotel, did the laundry, and was off to lambazouk classes. Lambazouk is a very sexy type of dance that evolved from lambada. I booked four classes with Cleidson and Iara to make the most of my time in Porto Seguro.

I really enjoyed the lessons. Cleidson was also very helpful with getting my abada for Carnaporto. After the class I got back to the hotel to get some rest before Carnaporto.

I made it to the party around midnight. It was still early, because the show starts at 1am. As I went through the entrance, I got nine condoms from the service right away. I thought: alright, if they treat me like that, then the party must be good and crazy. Soon, more and more people were coming. The place is ready to host up to 20 000 people. Not sure how many came, but definitely thousands.

Getting into Carnaporto is not cheap. That means that you meet there gente bonita. Young, cool, beautiful, and upper middle class crowd. In fact, I have never seen so many beautiful girls at one place. Most of them are 18-25 years old. People were from major Brazilian cities, such as Rio, Belo Horizonte, Sao Paulo, and Porto Alegre. The ratio was fantastic. Perhaps, like two or three girls per guy. That’s Brazil and that’s what I like! The shows were really great and the girls were going crazy. On average, ten girls per hour approached me to kiss them. All I was doing was just standing there, dancing to the music, and smiling. If you’re a good looking man, do yourself a favor, and go there next year. As I’m thinking about it right now, it’s the best party to be a man. These girls need you haha. I have no idea what time the party ended, but at 7am I came back to my hotel room and I was not empty handed.

Friday

I was extremely tired after the whole night and the morning. Anyways, I needed to force myself to attend the lambazouk class. I guess, my teachers were not entirely happy with my condition, but what can I do? Life. When I came back from the class I just got to bed and was sleeping like a baby. Needed to wake up early to go to Sao Paulo. My last stop.

Saturday

I arrived to Sao Paulo around noon. Somehow, I wasn’t initially excited about this place. I don’t know… maybe it’s because of what I heard from Brazilians? Everyone says that it’s a business city, not a party place. My expectations were low. My only goal was to learn to dance the basics of sertanejo universitario. I went to the class pretty much straight from the airport. My teachers were from 7 Sentidos: Carla and Robeilton. They are amazing teachers. They were very quick to assess my skills and calibrate accordingly. I was extremely happy with the class. The two hour class seemed like five minutes.

I then needed to grab some food and came back to the hostel. Sao Paulo has lots of pretty girls. As it was Saturday, I was wondering whether they have a pubcrawl or some other cool events. Apparentely, Sao Paulo has an official pub crawl. I signed up for that, took a nap, and was good to go around 10pm.

The pub crawl takes place at Villa Madalena. The place was incredibly crowded; like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. People everywhere. Finally, I made it to the bar where everyone was meeting. It was an open-bar until midnight. Again, the female/male ratio was very good. I was being very sociable and met almost all of the girls. Brazilian girls really like to talk to you, are very easy going, and friendly.

Funny thing. At some point I met a girl from Seattle. Her “North American” attitude was horrible. So off the place. While Brazilian girls are happy and interested in you, the Seattle girl only replied with monosyllables. That only confirms my 4-year observation: European and South American girls are, generally, interested in guys and like them. North American girls (excluding Quebecers) prefer to hang out with other girls and expect the guy to babysit them. So unattractive, despite the fact that she was pretty good looking. I just told her she’s boring and moved on to more Brazilians.

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The pubcrawl was heading to the club. On our way, we were practicing arrocha with a very fun girl from Goiania. Again, I was very pleased about the ratio in the club. At least twice as many women as men. Lots of beautiful Brazilian girls who want to look their best. As I was waiting for a drink, a Brazilian girl approached me. What she was doing was pretty typical. She turned back to me, but was standing very close. She was brushing her hair and throwing it into my face. She was then checking with the corner of her eye whether I catch her. She was pretty, indeed, but my plan for that night was different.

Although the music was different, the party reminded me of the video Empinadinha. Lots of girls, lots of kissing. Jump to minute 2:00. Doing something like that is a piece of cake if she’s attracted to you (most of the time she is). You can kiss as many girls as you like.

After I got the drink I was approached by a girl with her friends from the pubcrawl. Maybe she was shy or something. They asked if I can kiss her. She had a leopard-print on her, so she scored a point. She was cute and small, so she got a small kiss. That night, though, I had only one goal. I wanted to kiss another lovely girl from the pubcrawl. She was 10 years younger than me, smart, and her English was very good. I rushed into the action.

I knew that she liked me, because she spotted me several times and raised her hand to grab her. Then the moment came.

me: I like you. I think you’re beautiful and I want to kiss you.
she: I’m not that type of girl.
me: I see what you’re saying. I like that.
she: I don’t kiss every guy in the club.
me: Are you saying you don’t want to kiss me? Don’t you like me?
she: I like, but all you can get is a selinho.
me: What’s that?
she: It’s a small kiss.
me: OK, let’s see

The kiss was indeed small. Maybe not even half second. I was really disappointed, because it was the first small kiss in Brazil. I couldn’t believe.

me: It sucks. What’s the point?
she: Well… it may lead to better things…

I really wanted to kiss that girl; no one else mattered that night. I decided to leave her for a while and was walking around the club. So many other girls were checking me out, but I didn’t do the action. I’m sure she could see that. I was dancing with other people for a while. Then, I went to the bar and got my favorite caipirinha: with passion fruit. I came back to the selinho girl.

me: You see, so many girls wanted to make out with me. I didn’t do that. I don’t care about them. I care only about you tonight. [I was sincere about it and handed in the caipirinha]

We chatted for a while. Suddenly, she pulled me to the side and delivered a proper kiss. It felt very good. She was my 63rd girl that I kissed within 10 days in Brazil. I liked her. She liked me. We were making out for at least three hours. In the background I heard divirta-se! (have fun!). Then she got us into a camarote (a restricted lounge area) for free. It was a perfect ending of my Brazilian adventures.

Sunday

I grabbed my stuff, took the cab, and went to the airport. I was semi-ready to fly back to the real world. Brazil is not the real world. It’s a paradise.

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Lessons Learned

Carnaval in Rio vs Salvador vs Porto Seguro?

Rio: big, traditional, colorful, famous, laid-back

Salvador: huge, crazy, cool, unreal

Porto Seguro: small, cool, young crowd, intense, sexy

Thoughts on Safety?

Personally, I had no problems in Brazil. There are several rules, however, that I was trying to stick to: 1) whenever possible, hang out in a group of friends; 2) avoid dark places; 3) in Salvador, empty your pockets or keep only the belongings that you are ready to give away; 4) visit only reputable districts; and 5) be cautious at all times. During the street carnival I didn’t wear any jewellery. Other times, I had no problem with it. I noticed that many Brazilians wear watches (they love huge watches) and carry cell phones. I was doing the same.

Who to Hang out with?

It depends on your purpose. If you don’t care about girls, then hanging out with anyone will do the job. If you like girls, however, things are more complicated.

It’s best to have a mixed group of local and international dudes. First, you can learn a lot from Brazilians. Also, international dudes, like myself, are a good company as long as they wing you. Brazilian girls are also OK, because they understand the tradition and they are cool with kissing.

Avoid hanging out with international girls. Simply, you don’t bring sand to the beach. They won’t help you with getting more girls. What’s worse, they may get jealous; which only causes drama. That’s the last thing that you need during the carnival. Apart from the carnival, love them and hang out with them often!

Thoughts on Brazilian Girls?

Moises once said: God was really generous in that matter with Brazil. Personally, I think they are amazing. They are genuine, warm, sexy, treat you like a king if you’re serious about them. They are honest and straightforward, so you don’t need to play any games with them. If they like you, they’ll tell you that very quickly. They are very open about their feelings. On the other hand, it’s easy to hurt them (I was guilty of that in the past). If you do that, she’ll never forgive you. Brazilian girls like men and they know how to get men’s attention. I got the impression that they always try to look their best. Finally, they are great sensual dancers and great lovers (that often goes together).

For Guys, Are Looks Important in Brazil?

I’m almost sure that good looks help immensely. Many Brazilian girls love blond guys with blue eyes, because it’s so rare there (besides the south).

Communication: English vs Portuguese?

I’d say that, initially, it’s better to speak English. She’ll understand the basics. You can switch to Portuguese later. She’ll be more excited by an exotic gringo. Alternatively, you can just say in Portuguese: nao falo portugues, so beijar (I don’t speak Portuguese, only to kiss). Worked for me every time.

How to Kiss Girls During the Carnival So that Both Parties Enjoy it?

A kiss may tell you something about the person. So, if you like the girl, do it well. This is what I found optimal (romantic) after tens of street approaches.

  1. Be brave, direct, carefree, and charming.
  2. Make strong eye contact. If she maintains the eye contact, she’s interested. Otherwise, move on to the next girl.
  3. Smile and approach her, or pull her by her hand, or do whatever it takes so that she faces you. Always maintain eye contact.
  4.  (optional) Slowly ask if she speaks English, ask about her name, say she’s beautiful or that she’s got beautiful eyes, or whatever you honestly like about her. Don’t say anything else. In the meantime put your hands on her arms and gently slide down.
  5. Gently brush off her hair from her pretty face with one hand. Put the other hand on her back and pull toward you.
  6. Start kissing her slowly and gently. Hold her head with the hand that you used to brush off her hair.
  7. Now, you’re on your own, buddy. Repeat that 50 times and you’ll get many compliments on how great you can kiss.

I found it important to be smooth, i.e., speak slowly and move gently. There are two reasons: 1) she may not speak English well; 2) you give her the time to see that you’re a different guy. In general, girls are approached all the time. Obviously, she cannot kiss every guy, so, by default, she’s not willing to kiss. That way you give her a chance to change her mind so that she wants to kiss you. Furthermore, body contact is crucial. Brazilians are very comfortable with touching.

When to Kiss Girls?

Pretty much any time is good. Perhaps, night is best as the girls get loose and wild. Depending on how selective you are, you can kiss as many girls as you like. If you kiss 500 girls, I’d say well done, bro, but I won’t be shocked. Also, if you like the girl, she likes you, and all the logistics are in order (or she makes them so!), there should be no problem with taking her home.

How to Handle Girls that You Don’t Want to Kiss?

At times girls want to kiss you despite the fact that you’re not attracted to them. Lack of eye contact will typically resolve the issue. If she’s persistent, then there are two ways. A less graceful way is to say you’ve got a girlfriend, point to a random beautiful girl, and kiss that other girl. Another way (let’s call it the French way), proposed by Guillaume, is to lift her hand, spin around, and throw away like a bowling ball haha. She’ll keep going.

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