I met up with couchsurfers to go do Free Hugs in Riga today. Normally when I do free hugs events, people are bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to make someone’s day. Instead, we had 30 people who looked hungover and vacant.
Nevertheless, after a few warm up hugs we were good to go. Free hugs is a different experience in every country. Personally, I rather people come to me because I want them to feel good about the hug, not molested. Apparently in Latvia, you do have to walk up to people, and usually only girls will accept hugs from guys and vice versa. I decided to field-test this theory and yes, the guys looked a bit disappointed after I hugged them.
It’s also interesting to see how different nationalities approach the concept free hugs. That in itself is a completely separate post, but of note is how Italian men do it. They literally run up to any girl and lunge at them, not unlike how a tiger would attack an unsuspecting wildebeest. Free Hugs would certainly be an interesting spectacle in Italy.
In general the Free Hugs event went well. A few pedestrians looked mortified, the Scottish wedding party we tried to hug looked annoyed and a few Italian couchsurfers got pushed out of the way but uninpressed Latvian women. But we did also find a group of old ladies outside a church who wanted a hug from each of us, so we just had to line up and wait our turn.
In the evening was the Go Blonde parade. It was literally a parade for blonde people to raise money for charity so more blondes “can read good”. No seriously, despite sounding comical, it’s for a worthy cause – to build special playgrounds for disabled children.
It was kinda like Carnival for blondes except with less talent or creativity. But apparently this is quite a famous event, with teams from various countries like Finland, Germany and even New Zealand. I went to talk to Team New Zealand, which I’m fairly sure were all men wearing long blonde wigs. One of the guys said I should find a blonde wig and join them in the parade, which sounded like a great idea. But his friend interjected, saying apologetically that “blonde hair is not a natural color for my skin tone”. Wow, I never knew that men wearing women’s wigs in a parade for charity would take it so seriously. Evidently there must have been a low IQ requirement for participation as well.
Ever heard of the Go Blonde Parade?