Quinceañera

“I’ve gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.” No I’m not a fan of the Black Eyed Peas, but tonight’s gonna be a good, good night. At least I hope. Tonight I’m going to a Quince, short for Quinceañera, which is Spanish for a girls coming of age party at 15. Oh to be a 15 year old girl again, um just kidding. I don’t think I had a party when I turned 15, which might be because I’m a guy. For my 15th I went fly fishing with my dad in Oklahoma. The best part of the trip was tying minuscule flies with my dad, complaining about my icicle fingers, and still loving it. My best friend Philip came along and we used the tent stake bag for a hat. Philip and I spent more time throwing rocks than line, which might be why we didn’t have fish to eat that night. That was a special birthday for me and yet it doesn’t compare to the Quincaeñera. While I’ve been to plenty regular birthday parties, and become rather famous for my dance moves, I do a wicked sprinkler that I morph into an up and down jabbing fist pump, It’s wild; I’ve never been to a Quince. But the kids told me to expect a good meal and then to bust a move or two on the dance floor. I can’t leave these parties without a little dancing. The kids request my moves, it’s sad but true. The party will be held at Bonifaz, which I have been in once and is a beautiful hotel located near downtown Xela, and will probably last all night or until 4 in the morning to be exact. I think the Latin culture may know how to celebrate life.

For the party Bonifaz, a beautiful white hotel in central park across from my apartment, was
decorated immaculately. Purple balloons hung from the ceiling like big grapes and each table was decorated with candy and flowers. A great mass of people filled the hall, 300 of which were invited and the rest were colados, Guatemalan slang for party crashers. The party started at 7:00, but according to local custom you don’t show up until an hour later. So like any good ethnographer I didn’t roll into the party until 8:00, which was hard because I’m punctual. But as it turned out 8:00 was right on time. As I took my seat in the crowded banquet hall, Ale, the 15-year-old host of the party, hand in hand with her dad, danced out onto the dance floor. The dance was beautiful and I’m sure she will remember it for the rest of her life.

I could have celebrated my 15th birthday MTV style, but that’s typically for girls and no real people celebrate like that. The show Sweet Sixteen is just ridiculous and I’m glad I went fishing. No real people celebrate a birthday that way. Or do they? The Quince comes close. But I think the only true comparison to a Quince in the states is a wedding reception. Now at 15 I wasn’t getting married, so there wasn’t anyway I was going to have a huge dance party. Heck, at that age I could barely move my feet to the beat; not much has changed. Now, when I turned 18 I flew to Tulsa to hang out with friends. This was a great way to celebrate becoming an adult, but still not as big as the Quince. Maybe guys just don’t place much importance on their birthdays. Maybe it’s a gender thing because girls, even in the states, do love to be treated like princesses for a day. But as I look back at my sisters’ celebrations, and their friend’s celebrations, they didn’t celebrate the Latin way. Turning 15 might not mean that much in the states. Really only turning 16 because you can drive, 18 because you can vote, and 21 because you can drink mean anything in the states. Yet, these don’t compare to turning 15 down here where it means womanhood. I remember watching a movie in my Spanish class about a Hispanic girl turning 15 and working so hard so she could have a party. It meant everything to her. While, my students aren’t in the same economic condition as the heroin in the movie the party still means a lot to them. They practice for days for their dance. They skip school to go dress shopping. And then they invite hundreds of people to come party in their honor. Even weddings are different than this. Weddings are the celebration of two people becoming one, but I think Quinces are just celebrations of life. So, I hope you all are invited to a Quince someday and can celebrate life the way it should be celebrated.

2 thoughts on “Quinceañera

  1. Brens, you have an amazing talent! You write so well and I could defiently picture you doing the sprinkler! I miss you and I am excited to hear about your race in the next blog! LOVE YOU!

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