Mayor Bans Basically Everything Good About Weddings

In Depth

If you thought being cut off from the open bar at your best friend’s wedding was cruel and unusual punishment, check out the new regulations for weddings in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, which include strict rules about dancing, cake-cutting, and, strangely, shooting any and all firearms. Bummer. Worse, failure to follow the rules can lead to police involvement and arrest.

Chechnya, which has grown more and more conservative since 2007 when current president Ramzan Kadyrov took over, is a predominantly Muslim country. And while the new rules—recently handed down by the Department of Culture—may not be completely based in religion, they’re designed to keep young people in line and “promote a unified conception of the spiritual and moral upbringing and the development of the younger generation of the Chechen Republic,” according to Newsweek. I have very little idea of what this actually means, but it apparently involves not changing partners while mid-dance, as that is now a sign of poor breeding and a lack of morals.

Here are all the “strictly forbidden” activities that can no longer be enjoyed at Grozny weddings:

  • Appearing drunk at the wedding.
  • Coming to the wedding dressed in a manner that is not consistent with Chechnya’s views regarding attire.
  • Dancing inappropriately. This includes inappropriate movements as well as inappropriate dance elements (up to and including acrobatics). This is an especially strange development as the Legzinka, a traditional Chechen wedding dance incorporates acrobatics such as leaps and flips very frequently.
  • Dancing with two or more partners at the same time.
  • Allowing than one couple to occupy the dance floor at one time.
  • Dancing without the express permission of the toastmaster (for men) or the toastmistress (for women). The male toastmaster—the “chovs”—, by the way, is now also responsible in assuring that all guests follow the new regulations. In addition, workers at the facilities where weddings take place are required to report any inappropriate behavior they see to the police.
  • Shooting firearms of any kind.
  • Young people participating in the first dance. Older guests at the wedding must be allowed to dance first. (This would be an especially interesting one to talk to the police about.)
  • Asking to dance
  • Men dancing with more than one woman during the same dance.
  • Dancing closer than an outstretched arm’s length.
  • Blocking/guarding the path of a woman leaving the dance floor.
  • Women “competing” with men during the dance.
  • A woman going around the ring or circle of the dance floor more than three times in one dance. (the terms circle, ring, and dance floor seem interchangeable here, but Chechen dances often include the man pursuing the woman around the dance floor in a circle to simulate the sun’s chase after the moon).
  • Allowing the bride to dance.
  • Cutting the wedding cake.

These rules may seem archaic and misogynistic (they totally are), but that’s no surprise coming from Chechnya, a republic known not for being progressive in terms of civil rights but, rather, its strict control of citizen behavior. In fact, Newsweek points out that this isn’t even the first time this year that the republic’s leadership successfully curbed the rights of citizens:

In May, Kadyrov requested that men in Chechnya stop their wives from using the messaging app WhatsApp, after locals in the region managed to alert journalists of an allegedly forced wedding between a schoolgirl and a 47-year-old police chief, rumored to have still been married to another woman.

Nevertheless, the marriage happened. Kadyrov even danced at the wedding.

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