Yesterday, I went to my first quinceñera. As a big proponent of extended birthday festivities that morph from just a day into birthday week, even month, I must say that my Mexican neighbors know how to celebrate a birthday! I know that the event specifically commemorate turning fifteen, but after yesterday's party, I am feeling a bit gyped at never having had one. Would it be wrong to have a plenty-nineceñera? I look young for my age, and, just between you and me, I totally think I could pull off the gown and tiara. The truth is, just as I feel that feather boas, ornate headgear and fans (of the fan dancing ilk, not ceiling fans or portable fans!) are way underused as accessories, I often lament the lack of need for a gown and tiara while going about the business of daily life.
How fun would it be to spend the entire day dressed like an extra from Gone with the Wind? Okay, so technically the dress my neighbor chose for her big day only had a skirt that would qualify for a ball at Tara. The bodice she was rocking was pretty, but (unless she her goal was to be labelled the slut of Atlanta-town and the subject of vicious gossip at Aunt Pittypat's parties) far too immodest to be more than a foundation garment in those days. But back to today (or at least yesterday), my neighbor looked absolutely lovely in her gown with its dusty pink corseted bodice as did her sister (who was one of her satin clad damas) in her pink dress and their eight year old housemate, who who looked like a little fairy princess in her white gown.
It really must be an exciting day for a young woman. By ten o'clock all of the birthday girl's damas and chambelanes were dressed up and milling around the front yard, waiting for an obscenely large limousine to come pick them up. The boys were looking very killer-diller in their pinstriped zoot suits and shiny black and white patent leather shoes. The girls were equally flashy in their shirred pink satin dresses, though I have to admit they were not so much to my taste, being of a cut that is unflattering for about 98% of the population. Still, as a group, they looked really lovely.
The day began with a trip to church for a mass. This part was particularly interesting to me, because it combined my first quinceñera celebration with my first visit to a Catholic church during service. Because everything was conducted in Spanish, there was a lot that I missed, but it wasn't too difficult to get the gist. It was, in many ways, quite similar to attending a wedding. It is funny, the things that cross a person's mind when attending an event where only about 30% of what is said is understood - for example, what kind eyes the one priest had or how the other would kneel to be at eye level as he gave communion to the children.
After church, there was a bit of a break until 3 p.m. when we all went over to the banquet hall for dinner, the big dance number (the kids had been practicing in my neighbor's back yard for weeks and I must say, I believe I saw shades of my famous turtle dance in the birthday girl's solo, so I really think my style of choreography is catching on with the young people), and family dance. As it turned out, the location was the same place where I had my high school graduation party and was much nicer than I remembered. Once we got there, we fortuitously ran into another Mexican neighbor, who invited us to sit with her, which was great, because it provided me with my own personal cultural tour guide who was just awesome about explaining everything from the padrinos to the order of the dances to the significance of the various gifts. It really was a great evening - the perfect way to set the mood for the remaining birthdays, weddings and assorted celebrations of the summer.