Courtship Rituals Around the World

From moving your body in rhythmic synchronicity with the club rat of your dreams on the dancefloor to spraining your thumb after a too-quick superlike on Fiona, 19, “Please don’t make a Shrek reference,” Western dating culture is absurdly hilarious. However, even the most delicately curated chocolate box gets stale after a while. So, here are 5 interesting courtship practices from around the world to revitalize your romantic palette and offer a bit of perspective. 

1. Polyphonic Kam Courtship 

Do you ever watch those starry-eyed youths in the movies (see: Grease, West Side Story, et al.) serenading each other in elaborate song and think, “Damn Craig, where’s MY sugary ballad?” The Kam people of China’s Guizhou Province have been implementing music into their courtship rituals for decades. Known globally for their polyphonic choir singing, Kam singles would test their compatibility by singing improvised songs about their lives to one another as a form of introduction. These would eventually get more intimate and personal as the couple grew closer. 


The Kam People  

2. Bhutan Night Hunting 

Making a move is stressful! How do you coyly tell a boy you think he’s cute when all you want to do is sneak into his bed at night? Well, for the bachelors of Bhutan, that’s exactly how they do it. Beginning in the Eastern rural part of the country, men would break into the homes of their ‘objects of desire,’ in attempt to persuade them into letting them into bed. The price of being caught would then range from marriage to working on her family’s field. 


Night Hunting in Bhutan

3. Balinese Tooth Filing 

The Balinese are putting an end to the idea that “all men are dogs”, by literally filling down their canine teeth. Usually performed upon puberty, children have their canine teeth shaved down in order to rid them of animalistic urges and prepare them for stable future relationships. 


Bali Tooth Filing

4. Cambodian Love Huts 

Parents of the Kreung tribe in Cambodia build their teenage daughters love huts, separated from the main home. Contrary to many cultures, where sex before marriage remains taboo, members of the Kreung tribe see it as a means to empower young girls and guide them towards maturity. Meanwhile, the infamous struggle is so real for Western teens that we created this meme, lamenting our lack of privacy. 


Cambodian Love Hut

5. Male Beauty Pageants

How many boring YouTube videos on “5 Things Girls Wear That Guys Hate” need to be uploaded until the aforementioned guys look at their own faded chinos and Bass Pro hats? The men of the Wodaabe tribe in Niger put on a pageant-like courtship festival called Gerewol, during which they present themselves as eligible and gorgeous bachelors. During this week-long festival, the men peacock themselves up to capture the ladies’ attention through the power of dance, in a fierce competition called the “Yaake.” 

Courtship Rituals Around the World

Yaake Dance Competition

Clearly, our world is packed to the brim with unique and intriguing courtship practices waiting to be discovered. However, whether you’re singing your crush improv poetry or liking all of their Instagrams, the dating game is a wild and thrilling ride no matter which hemisphere you call home. 


  • Alice Yao

    Alice Yao is a human female and Arts writer for INKspire. She studies Urban Planning at the University of Waterloo and is trying her best.

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