Last Friday was the office holiday party, and it certainly lived up to the hype. Everyone bailed from the office promptly at 5 pm (some snuck out a little earlier), and apparently most of the girls rushed to the mall across the street to get their hair done. As I’ve mentioned before, Venezuelan culture places heavy emphasis on looking your best, particularly women, which probably why Venezuela has more beauty pageant winners than any other country. Fancy hair alone though was no match for Breck who was looking pret-ty amazing if I do say so myself.
The party started at 8, and this being Caracas, we had to have a driver take us there even though it was two blocks from our house. It always feels a little silly hiring someone to drive you somewhere you could walk to just as fast, but such is life here. Right off the bat a nice, bordering on creepy waiter offered me a drink, and for some reason he thought we were besties because the rest of the night every time he saw me I was greeted with an over the top “amigo! anything I can bring you?” Dinner was traditional Venezuelan Christmas dinner and consisted of tamales (amazing), “chicken salad” (that’s what they called it, but it was really more of a potato salad that happened to have chicken in it), pan de jamon (pastry roll with ham and green olives in it), turkey, and several salads. A good start to the night.
Shortly after dinner, the “secret” musical guest made his appearance. I put secret in quotes because someone spilled the beans long before the party and everyone knew who it was–Venezuelan singer Oscarcito. I had been listening to his songs on Youtube all day and was pretty impressed my work was able to pull this guy for the party. I’ve had a few of his hits stuck in my head for several days now–Tu me tratas mal, pero me gusta, me gusta and how can you not love tu eres una sexy muchacha.
Seriously, check out this video, he’s pretty good. My fellow Bay Area natives should recognize that it was filmed at Alcatraz–PBD (that’s Pretty Big Deal, for those of you who aren’t familiar with my favorite acronym). I also recommend “El Hacha” if you have a minute.
And then my inner 15 year old girl came out when I got to see the one and only Oscarcito perform all my new fave songs live–with backup dancers and everything.
After the performance was a brief break for mingling. I had heard through the grapevine that my boss loves to dance so I couldn’t wait for some music to start up again. After a bit, a wedding type band got on stage and started playing Johnny B Good. As it turns out, I’m kind of a sucker for 50s classics at parties, so Breck and I headed immediately for the dance floor (maybe I like dancing too?). Sure enough, right behind me was my boss doing all kinds of awesome moves with some ridiculous ones mixed in.
Later on, I headed out to refresh my drink and when I got back, the entire dance floor had turned into a giant circle–you know, the ones where people take turns exhibiting their dance skills and cheering each other on. Well, low and behold, there was my boss in the middle dancing around and pulling various co-workers into the circle to dance with. It was pretty great. After briefly exiting the circle to let some others have a turn, it was clear that the “I just gotta dance, bro” (thanks Dane Cook) itch hit him again and he STARTED BREAK DANCING in the middle of the circle. Yes, apparently my boss break dances–and not badly either! As if that wasn’t enough, a minute later another manager from the office jumped in and did some break dancing too. Totally nuts. Venezuelans definitely know how to bring out the party spirit, even in us boring Americans.
And, of course I was stupid to think that the party would actually end at 2 am like it said on the invite. Instead, the second meal of arepas and empanadas (way better than Taco Bell for late night post-drinking) was served at 2:45 meaning there was never any real intention to end the party at 2 am. Maybe it’s just a trick all the Venezuelans play on the gullible expats to get them to go home early so they can have all the good food for themselves. I’m on to them though. It was amazing. Not too long after the feast though, Breck and I were toast and came home at 3:30 am after another 30 second drive from a hired driver waiting outside.
The next day we were utterly useless. For some reason my brain is programmed to wake up by 8:30 am so we were unable to do anything all day except have an hours long It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia marathon accompanied plenty of popcorn.
And that’s the story of the Caracas office holiday party.