Making an entrance – it’s a thing. I remember complaining once at a party, about late arrivals. The guest sitting opposite to me said, “listen, it’s all about making an entrance. What’s the point of arriving? You want to be SEEN arriving. To do that, everyone else has to be already seated when you enter the room”.
I was at a wedding recently that was all about making an entrance. It was the kind of wedding that is becoming more usual, second generation of immigrants, marrying out of culture. It means there are going to be some very different expectations and a diverse sprinkling of imagination going into that wedding day. This particular wedding, one of the families was Coptic Egyptian.
Now Arabic weddings are a singular thing. If you have never been to one, let’s just say, they are of Biblical proportions. The songs are old, and the theme is older…. love and family. There is no age divide at an Arabic wedding. From the first dup-dup-dup on the dirbakke (the tiny hand-held drum) let’s just say it’s party on, and the last people getting down on the dance floor at 4 am after all the dogs have howled and all the drunks are put to bed, will likely be the oldsters. They enjoy a wedding as if each one will be their last.
So about that entrance? When you have a party so diverse, you could do things one way, or you could do them another way. Or… you could simply have so many recipes that everybody is going to end up doing things their own way, and that is the idea that seems to have won out the day. Individual entrances.
After all the guests were seated, the wedding party arrived. Each couple in the wedding party had their own entrance song and routine, props in hand. Literally. They had fun with it, depending on age, gender, personal taste, and they did it with flair. One would dance in with a feather boa, swirling around and vogueing poses to show off the dress. They were family and they were representing in style for the big day. Another would come in all funky with a hat as a prop, doing a break dance to some rap. Yet another would come in to a burst of their own favourite coming up song, dance moves on display. It was a smorgasbord of age and culture.
The crowd loved it. All the wedding party was ushered in, then came the parents of the groom. The elderly coptic gentleman had a handle-bar moustache that would have made Omar Sharif jealous. Moreover, he had a cane, not so much as walking aid, as a signifier of station. You saw his cane coming before you saw him, because he had it up in the air waving heralding his arrival. Finally the Bride and Groom made their way into the room, with much applause and fanfare, followed by a man wearing one of those huge drums that is strapped across one shoulder and beaten with a large stick in the other hand.
It was some party. Epic. Like I said, Biblical proportions. Towards the end, the party throng gets winnowed out to the hard-core partiers, whose enthusiasm does not flag easily. And this was the fun part. Just like the beat of a drum sets everyone off in party mood, the drum can really carry the day. It’s not just visual, where it goes, the party goes. At the very late end of the night a faithful few were still partying around that drum, strangers who were drunk and now best friends from all spectrums of age and culture. They had the drum on the ground and they were dancing on the rim with the others standing around clapping and cheering. The father of the groom did a round on it, cane in the air. Age defied gravity. The drum went a few more rounds. Soon they had the bride seated on the drum, held aloft by many arms like a crowd surf.
End of the night, when all was said and done, that happy drum got wheeled out of the place, worse for wear but still intact. Midst the pools of spilled drinks, glitter, discarded bow ties and trample corsages, it had done it’s job and heralded another couple, another family into the embrace of both clans. Love, it’s an old and universal theme. You can’t beat it. Except I guess, when you are the drummer.
Yes, making an entrance is a thing. But when all is said and done, I want to be the guy on the drum. He has the best job of all, he gets to set the tempo and the party moves with him. I think it’s that age old saying about dancing to the beat of your own drum. It’s a beautiful thing, and done well, it’s infectious.