Sunday, April 29, 2012
We woke up yesterday at 10:00 and showered and dressed so that we could be at B Chic – where the ceremony was to take place – by 11:45. The ceremony was scheduled for noon, but Ramón had called us on Friday and asked us to be there a bit early. We cabbed over and the driver had no problem finding the space. That turned out to be a good omen.
B Chic is normally a restaurant, but all tables had bee cleared out and the large dining room had been set with chairs and sofas to accommodate all the guests who would be attending the ceremony. When we walked in there were servers standing by the door offering arriving guests a variety of juices and smoothies. Perhaps two dozen guests had already arrived and judging by the number of seats many more were expected. This was to be a new experience for us because this was the first gay wedding that we had ever attended. Gay marriage is legal in Spain although the current government is considering changing that law. The Partido Popular, the party of the right, continues to be loyal to the Monarchy and the Church.
We were warmly greeted by Ramón and his partner, Juan Diego who were glad that we were able to be present at this very important moment in their lives. I met Ramón in 1990 at a magic store in Madrid. I was there to take a look around and see what was available in a Spanish magic store. Ramón was there to pick up some supplies for an upcoming business trip to Chicago. We would connect again at the Spanish National Magic Convention in Toledo that summer and our friendship would continue through the next twenty-two years via the Internet and during our summer visits to Spain. One year Ramón had come to San Francisco to study English and it was the same year that Rachel got married. So he was present at her wedding and now we were present at his.
In addition to attending the wedding this was an opportunity to catch up with many familiar faces. We had not seen the members of Ramon’s family for a number of years and of course his mother and father were present, as were his two sisters, Susana and Tonyi, and his brother, David. Ingmar, a long time friend of Ramón and fellow magician had come from Sweden to be present and Berni, a new friend of ours whom we had met at the convention at La Coruña was there, too. We chatted with everyone for a bit and then we walked into the space where the ceremony was to be held and took our seats.
There was a lectern set in the middle of the room with sofas on each side for the family. There were also two armchairs placed about twenty feet away from the lectern where Ramón and Juan Diego sat. The ceremony was a civil ceremony, but unlike any civil ceremony you have ever witnessed. It began with a tribute to the couple read by the woman who authored it. Next came a longtime friend who sang a selection from “The Phantom of the Opera”. Next there was a reading from the New Testament. What followed was a complete surprise for just about everyone present. Juan Diego’s brother came to the lectern and read a letter written by Juan Diego’s mother to him before she passed away. It brought everyone to tears. Next came the elements of the civil ceremony and the exchange of vows and rings. That was followed by Mark, a star of the German stage, singing Willy Nelson’s “You Were Always on My Mind”. Next, the director of Ramon’s newest magic show came to the podium and delivered a very heartfelt and powerful tribute. As a finale, champagne was passed and we toasted while a duo of opera singers sang a number from “La Traviata” while everyone toasted the newlyweds and drained their glass. With that the ceremony came to a close and the obligatory photos were taken and we all began to make our way to Libertad 22 where the reception was to be held.
The weather, which had been cold and overcast, had changed to light rain while we were witnessing the ceremony. The site for the reception was a ten-minute walk from B Chic. On a good day it would be no problem. This was not a good day. The sidewalks were crowded, the roadway is narrow and the puddles were abundant. Berni led the way and guided us as quickly as possible to the reception site.
Libertad 22 is a site that one can rent for a function. Juan Diego had designed some of the space for the event and the pictures on the wall contributed to the rest of the atmosphere. Just as the ceremony was not your typical ceremony, the reception was not destined to be your typical reception. About half of the invited guests had already made their way there and the remainder would arrive shortly.
Many of the guests, family aside, were from the world of entertainment and art. It certainly was an eclectic group. Some of the guests had helped out Ramón through the years as he put together his numerous stage shows. There were a great number of singers, actors and dancers present and that was to become all the more evident as the afternoon progressed. There was a DJ and the music was non-stop. Susan observed that you know that you are at a gay wedding when the number of men on the dance floor is more than the number of women. These guys had obviously danced before at other events and at other discos. Some of their routines almost looked like they had been choreographed.
The servers passed wine, beer and a variety of soft drinks and water. The buffet table was filled with embutidos, cheeses and a variety of breads. The servers circulated among the guests with gazpacho shots, a canapé of fig and ham and a puff pastry that contained a filling of mushrooms and other goodies. Then they passed cocoanut shrimp, octopus and mini-hamburgers. Little did I realize that there would be more to come. We had sampled the cold hors d’ouvres and now it was time for the hot ones. There was another round of mini-hamburgers, a warm soup, gnocchi and other goodies. The table was then cleared and desserts magically appeared. In addition to a variety of bars and small cakes there were several varieties of pudding, although the word pudding is really not the best word to describe these delights. Spaniards have their cocktails and mixed drinks after the dessert and so there was a table in the back where you could order your gin and tonics, or your scotch and water or your rum and coke or whatever floated your boat.
There was a parade of performers who sang and danced and did some hilarious sketches. There was a duo of cross dressers who did four of the skits and at one point they were joined by Mark, the singer from Germany, to do a version of “It’s Raining Men”. There was a Marilyn Monroe impersonator who turned out to be Ramon’s assistant in his current magic production. There was also a male stripper dressed as a bride who did a rather reserved number in deference to the variety of guests present. Finally, there was another champagne toast that was bit different from most. At the bottom of each glass of champagne there was a stone. Most were cubic zirconias, but one of the glasses contained an actual diamond. There was a gemologist present who was there to examine each stone as it was presented.
Susan and I left the party a little after 8:00 having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had been on the go since 11:00 and our energy level was resting on empty. We made our way back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening relaxing with a book or playing on the Internet. Saturday turned out to be one of the best and most unique experiences we have ever had.