It is Saturday night in Cardiff. I am witnessing a local phenomenon. It seems as though every themed bachelor and bachelorette party has descended upon this small Welsh town. People from all parts of the United Kingdom have flocked here… in costume. The men fill the bars and streets dressed as bananas, sailors, Spartans, Where’s Waldo’s?; or, have come dressed as a Beckham ad wearing only underwear. The girls are equally amusing, dressed in their vampiest, “It’s Saturday night; come get me!” attire. Sadly, I am wearing a DVF silk shift dress… a transition piece that didn’t quite meet this transition.
I enter the Prince of Wales Pub, and am greeted by a bouncer whose face looks like a canned ham. Each of the booked parties is between 20 to 30 people strong. They flood the bar ordering colourful cocktails and shots before they settle into their pints and pitchers of Pimms, respectively. The party is ramping up, the costumes are getting skimpier and the guests are looking to be noticed. There is a skeleton of a 40 in the bathroom at 6 pm. I worry for them.
It’s like watching a live game of Risk. The bride/ groom supporters begin to move tables and chairs together in an effort to carve out their territories within the establishment’s precincts. The early settlers have claimed the most valuable real estate. They have built their “table cities” close to a water source (the bar), on a major route (the centre of the restaurant), and in an area abundant with natural resources (the kitchen and toilettes).
They have also established trade routes. Every so often, a bridesmaid skips over to a congregation of men to have her picture taken in a bashful, yet compromising pose. (I hope, for her sake, that it doesn’t end up on Facebook.) Conversely, a man will occasionally test his strength by lifting a women up over his head. For this honour, the girl receives a colourful cocktail. The man: bragging rights. This barter system is providing the entertainment for the moment.
Though, as the evening proceeds, I think retreat is the safest bet. I am positive wars will be fought and battles will be won. This ritualistic ceremony seems wholly contradictory to the sacred passage into married life. And, although no one claims to remember a good night’s sleep… I will certainly try for one.