If you had thought that swine flu had put an end to the social obligation of conference kissing, think again. The Blog has detected two major influences sweeping across the world of social cheek-kissing, and conference-goers will want to familiarise themselves with them before embarking for EPCA in Berlin. First is the inexorable spread of the Dutch three-cheek kiss, and second is the emerging trend sweeping in from South America of the male-on-male kiss.
Regular attendees at petrochemical conferences will have noticed the Dutch kiss sweeping across European borders, practiced now not only by Dutch members of the petchem community but also anyone with a Dutch office or who has at any time done business in or around the Netherlands. "We're all Dutch now," is the standard refrain.
More unnerving for the majority of attendees at the forthcoming EPCA conference will be the spread of the Argentine/Uruguayan "Saludar." Oh yes, I have seen the future of social kissing and am waiting agog to see its arrival in the world of petchem conferences.
At a polo match at Buenos Aires' Campo Argentino de Polo en Palermo, the Blog witnessed a full-on Saludar, as one general arriving in the grandstand made his way down the row of seated generals kissing each of them on the cheek. The full man-on-man grip, the wrapping of arms around shoulder, the clutching to the chest, and the full kissing contact of lips on cheek, once only, then pulling back with a big warm smile - all these will be a welcome addition to the normally staid lobby of the Berlin Intercontinental Hotel.
How long before the Dutch get hold of the Saludar and bring us the Dutch Saludar?