The slow clap

This is one of my favorite things about Moldova.  I just think it’s great.  When large groups gather, and applause breaks out, that applause always somehow turns into a homogenous clap.  It starts with a bunch of different clapping at different paces…then, all of the sudden, the applause starts to gain rhythm and many claps become one…homogenous…clap, clap, clap.  As though the crowd is following the beat of a song.

This happens at concerts, at recognition ceremonies, and, most recently, when we were listening to the coverage of the Moldovan parliament finally electing a president after more than two years without one.

I asked my colleagues about this, if there was some kind of story behind it, and they said no.  Maybe it’s hard to clap very quickly for a longer amount of time, they said, maybe it’s something that began in the Soviet period when everything was uniform, or maybe people are calling for an encore.

It’s funny, in the States, if there is a homogenous clap at all , it is always at the beginning…clap, clap, then disperses into many different paces and rhythms.  In the States, we start as a group and merge into the rhythms of individuals.  Is this a greater metaphor for the history and evolution of our cultures?  Maybe.  In any case, I’m down with the slow clap.  Watch out, America, I might just bring it home with me.


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