The circus ringmaster and wedding music

A year after I married my wife, we decided to move to Johannesburg in South Africa, due to my work office being based there. It being a large city, it also offered us many more opportunities to perform music.

One time we were booked to supply live music at a wedding in Boksburg.  Boksburg is one of those areas where working-class people of many different cultures live and work together. People from there are also regularly ridiculed, due to some of the strange characters you can find there, as well as strange activities people do. A famous Boksburg joke goes like this:

Question: “What do you call a Boksburg woman dress in a white sweater?”

Answer: The bride.

We arrived at the wedding reception venue at around 14h00 in order to ensure all our sound-checks were done well in time, as the reception was scheduled to start at 17H00. Just as we completed the sound-check, a middle-aged man of mixed race, entered and walked towards us. He was dressed in a bright red swallow tail suit, a white shirt with way to many frills for my liking, a overlywide yellow tie and a shiny pair of pointy black shoes. He also had a top-hat on. To me it looked like he was a circus ringmaster gone off the tracks.

My wife just stared at him, then looked at me and whispered: “if we get paid for this gig, miracles do still happen”.  In my heart I agreed and already planned how to curse the agent who booked us for the gig.

Around 30 seconds later, the ringmaster shuggled up the stage and greeted us in Afrikaans, our home-language with a common South African greeting under mixed race people:  “Howzit my Larney”. He then proceeded to dig out a large envelope from one of his oversized jacket pockets and handed it to us with these words:

“Julle is betaal, so jol lekka musiek, want vanaand gaat ons suip en riel tot die son oepkoem”,  in Afrikaans that is.

In English that would be:

“You have been paid, so perform some great music as tonight we are going to get drunk like skunks and party until dawn”

10 hours later, I could report that we did as he asked and the crowd did as he said they would.

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