film production + social action

WEBlog 3: An Andean Wedding

Just a few days after my arrival, I learned that my timing was rather apt. It turned out that on the first Saturday I was in Antuyo, Yanet’s sister would be getting married! I was invited to the wedding and, as a gift, agreed to film the wedding for the family (I figured it would also be a good opportunity for me to film their culture for my own purposes). The day of the wedding was a long one. We got into Ahuac around 6 am to prepare for the ceremony that would start at 10:30. I had a breakfast of pancakes and coffee – a welcomed break from my otherwise steady diet of potatoes – while the bride changed at the hair salon. Nothing exciting to report about the ceremony itself – very similar to our own – the party however, was phenomenal. It started immediately after the ceremony (around noon) and went on for two days at three different venues. We started at the plaza right outside the church, with a full band set up. We danced in circles in the plaza for about an hour at which point a parade line formed. The parade made several tours of the plaza, pushed along by the band which played at the rear (throughout the night the band played a slew of Santiago songs – at one point I got into an argument with another guest about whether or not they were playing the same song over and over again. She insisted they were different songs, I’m pretty sure it was the same song all night). After making many circles, we headed down the streets of Ahuac toward the main venue – a big outdoor field with two stages for the two bands. I thought the luxurious venue would be a nice opportunity to seek out a toilet, but was disappointed to learn that it merely offered holes lined by tile. The dancing started upon our arrival at the wedding hall and continued until midnight. Each key part of the party would begin with the key objects being displayed in a dance that circled around the field. Before lunch, the guests picked up the dozen or so full pigs, formed a parade line and danced around, swinging the pigs back and forth, presenting each to the bride and groom. After lunch, gifts were presented. The guests formed lines and danced around carrying their gifts – and these are not little envelopes containing checks, I’m talking about people dancing around for twenty minutes lifting refrigerators, dressers, and ovens over their shoulders. After the gifts came the beer – there must have been several hundred cases of 40 oz bottles, each of which was paraded around. The people drink communally, pouring themselves a shot of beer and then passing the bottle and plastic cup onto the next guest. They drink in circles of five to ten, dancing the whole time. Now, in my dancing days, I’ve made an impression on quite a few people with my natural dancing skills – I’m self-taught. The people of Antuyo are no exception. Behind the bride and groom, I was the most popular guy at the party, dancing with everyone (most of them laughing at me and mocking my moves – I actually got a hilarious shot of two old women, decked out in full Andean costumes, imitating my unique breed of dancing). Things got dangerous as people got drunker. One woman came up to me, grabbed me by the ear and tried to force me to marry her daughter. I managed to free myself from her strong grip and flee only to run into her an hour later, having to go through the whole ordeal again.

The party ended around midnight, and by 9 am the next day, all of the guests were up in Antuyo at the groom’s house dancing to the same music with the same band, drinking case after case of beer and eating all of the leftovers. This went on until midnight.

Creating the DVD turned out to be a much bigger deal than I thought it’d be. From the moment the party ended I was asked when it would be ready. I tried to explain that I needed some time to edit everything together; that these things take time and I’d need to wait until the following weekend when I went to the city for a few days. When I went into the city of Huancayo the following weekend for two days of much needed rest and running water, I spent hours editing the four hours of footage into a tight, hour-long video. I came back on Sunday, feeling generous and excited to show my work to the family. They liked it but were perplexed….what happened to all the rest? Why would I edit it down? They wanted EVERYTHING. Accepting the fact that I’d wasted a whole day editing, I gave them all four hours of footage on two DVDs. They couldn’t have been happier – the DVD became legendary around the town with people constantly asking where they could get a copy. It was practically on repeat from the moment I gave it to them until the time I left. They’re probably watching it right now.