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…in which people are wed

So after my evening of confusion on arriving in Sofia, the mystical 8-8-8 Friday was set out to be a more sedate affair, with a vague schedule involving the wedding that I’d come over here to celebrate. However, I made the mistake of not actually looking at the timing of the wedding and as such didn’t realise that my presence wasn’t actually required until 6pm, giving me a day of dreaded choice.

So I went for a wander – as shown here on a beautiful Google map, with notes. Yes, I was a bit bored when I got back.

And then the wedding. I’ve been to a couple of international weddings, getting scared by the admiration of my facial hair at a swedish one, and wondering why the country and western singers were so depressing at the welsh-chinese one, but this one was the biggest departure from the normal form that I’ve seen.

Firstly there was the dancing. The constant, constant dancing. Not generally being one for a boogie, I was slightly mystified, but from the time we walked into the ballroom and sat at our tables until I slunk away in a slightly drunken state to my room there was somebody dancing. From the traditionally dressed pros who whirled around the wedding bread (of which more later) to the enthusiastic guests, music of various kinds boomed out of the PA and people whirled around in the middle of the room. The mix of music was also interesting, having been primed by a Bulgarian landowner of my acquaintance (well, he owns a house somewhere near Varna, but ‘landowner’ sounds much more impressive) to expect a non-stop barrage of 90s eurodance, I was pleasantly surprised that they also included more modern eurodance and a selection of random Choons that took me back to my uni days. That said, the inclusion of “I want to break free” by Queen and “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell were considered by my table to be interesting additions to a wedding playlist, and the background playing of “The Jack” by AC-DC (a happy ditty all about a woman with gonnorhea [based on a true story]) while the cake was cut and the enthusiastic Bulgarian MC (translated for us language-deprived brits by a very hard working, permanently smiling translator who often wrestled succesfully with the translation of uniquely Bulgarian concepts into english) layed the innuendo on thick about why Adam would need the energy from the large slice of cake that Rosie cut him…

Cutting the cake

The next bit was the bread. The big round wedding bread, whirled about the room by traditionally dressed dancers, before it was used in a bunch of rituals during the evening. Firstly, there was the feeding of the bread to the bride and groom by the groom’s mother, during which Adam’s beaming but slightly worried mum tore off bits of bread, dipped them in salt and the popped them into the mouths of the happy couple, followed by a repeat with honey. A top bit of ritualling that, followed by the bride kicking a silver pot full of water and differing coloured roses across the room, the colour of the rose that came out of the pot predicting the sex of their first child (white – girl). Unfortunately none of the british contingent were fully prepared for the pot kicking, leading to mild exclamations of surprise and at least one attempt to intercept the pot ready for pass back into the centre for a shot on goal.

Wedding bread - FEEL MY WRATH

The role of the wedding bread was not yet over. Prior to the bread being ripped up into table sized chunks and distributed around the room, Adam and Rosie had to tear the beast in half, the person with the larger half being the one that would do more work in the marriage. At least I think that’s what the translator said, there was a lot of Bulgarian shouting at the time and the waiter had decided that I needed to have my rakia glass filled whenever I wasn’t watching. And then to heap further expectation and mild embarassment upon them one of the kids was told to count how many crumbs had fallen on the floor, that being the number of children they’d have. Rosie displayed a stoic calm when informed that there were four.

Dinner was good, although with all the dancing us non-dancers weren’t entirely certain when it was polite to tuck in, as half of the room were on their feet at almost all times, and was gracefully spread out over the entire evening, to give more time for the dancing. Did I mention that there was a lot of dancing? In addition to the DJ, a band appeared at one point, playing a bunch of covers that became even more excellent when backed with a mildly bulgarian inflection – the performance of “Wake me up before you go-go”, being an extra special highlight – and there was even a slinky dress clad, fedora toting young lady who popped out for a bit when the band went for a rest, mic in hand and with a backing track of karaoke classics. She belted her way through a pile of songs, keeping the dance floor full as I discovered that I was sitting on a table with a bunch of people who work almost next door to me in London (note to any City dwellers – the mighty Young Bean, which closed a few months back, has reopened on the site of Noto, which also closed a while back, up on Bassishaw Highwalk near the Guildhall. This is a good thing. There’s a bunch of details up on the randomness guide).

The party continued and eventually I deserted, as it was after 3am and I found myself falling asleep on the table. Things were still going strong when I wandered off, although they had replaced the videographer (a man of great bravery who was seen earlier in the day sticking his entire body out of the window of a moving car to make sure that he got a shot of the groom’s wedding car driving to the registry office – a shot dominated by the looks of shock on the groom and best man as they saw a bloke with a camera start climbing out of a car as it drove through the rather scary Sofian traffic) and the photographer had run away to process the ridiculous number of photos he had taken. Top do, and worth the trip.

My problem now is that everyone else has gone home, I’ve hit the edge of my limited attention span and I have no real idea what to do before I get my plane home at 5pm tomorrow. I’ve heard tales of a military museum with MiGs and tanks outside, which tickles my fancy, so after my intrepid trek of yesterday I think I will be going to find myself a cab.

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