Not too long ago, those who considered themselves a notch above declared the quinceañera dead, substituting a cruise, a vacation trip or even the fifteen-year old’s first boy-girl party for the big event. Even in those times, it was a rite of passage that just wouldn’t give up the ghost.
A few summers ago, old man Jacobo’s granddaughter and her chambelanes practiced their dance steps with a choreographer in the moonlight for weeks in front of my house. It would take them at least a year to pay off that party.
You saw the movie Quinceañera a few years ago, but it’s more than just a Latina Bat Mizvah. Estadounidenses have caught on to the rage, too. Hearst Communications, Inc., publisher of the bible of my youth, Seventeen, now publishes MisQuinceMag.com, in English and in Spanish.
Like Estadounidenses who try to cut costs by scheduling a wedding or other event mid-week, some middle-class Mexicans have done likewise, paring back the quinceañera to a weeknight event with a family dinner at a nice restaurant.
For some poor girls living in Mexico City, that just wasn’t an option. They wanted their moment of glamour and magic, even if it meant having to share the stage with other queen bees and wannabees. And they got together at the Youth Institute, rounded up donors, and held the world’s largest mass quinceañera.
Detractors might question whether these girls should’ve been working on teen rights, culture, pay equity, job opportunities, family planning and other more important issues. But you know something? In organizing the mass quinceañera, they were doing just that and more: working toward a common goal and getting what they wanted. And that’s not a bad approach.