GUCA, Serbia—The afternoon sun glints off the scales of a 6-foot python as the unfortunate reptile is held aloft by a man with a shaved head, nearly 10 feet off the ground, straddling the shoulders of a bronze statue of a trumpeter. Beneath him, in the light shower of his sweat, are more than a dozen other men, most of them swilling beer, whose only thought is to join him at the top of the human pyramid.
Together, the heaving mass makes an elevated attempt at dancing to the unique cacophony of a Balkan brass band. Only in this case it’s dozens of bands that march around the surrounding streets like platoons from a brass army blaring out competing tunes. Amid the sound and fury, the revelers lean out from the limbs of the statue like sailors in a high wind and wave their arms to no particular rhythm.