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Why Do So Many Young People in Mexico and Central America Hook Up in Parks?

Scott Keyes - Pacific Standard
go to original
April 15, 2015

In Latin America, the combined forces of crowded housing, conservative fathers, and high school politics have produced extreme PDA. (tonozac/Flickr)

Parks in Latin America serve a number of purposes. They provide a green respite in an otherwise concrete jungle. They’re a space where anyone from the wealthy to the homeless can rest their legs. And, for young couples, they’re the most popular place to hook up.

In the park in southern Mexico where I’m writing this article, all four benches adjacent to me are currently occupied by young lovers, and another couple (whose bench I’m rudely occupying) is sprawled out in the grass. I was lucky to get a seat. I showed up early.

If public displays of affection make you uncomfortable, don’t come to Latin America. Unlike the United States, there’s no room for pearl clutching here. From Mexico City to Medellin and Buenos Aires to Belize, making out in public is a virtual rite of passage for high schoolers and young adults.

It’s so widespread that when the city of Guanajuato passed an ordinance in 2009 banning certain forms of PDA, it was met with such furor that the law had to be suspended days later. Nobody has since dared to tell youngsters to “get a room.”

What’s behind this phenomenon? Why is hooking up in public so ubiquitous in Latin America, yet so rare up north?

Read the rest at Pacific Standard

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