Saturday night, I went with two other teachers to a Quinceañera for one of my students. For those who don’t know, a Quinceañera is a coming of age celebration for girls when they turn 15, and it’s a big deal in Mexican culture. Families can go as all-out for them as you’d go for a wedding. I’ve never been to one and was really happy to be invited. (Yes, this means I have 15-year-olds as 8th graders.)
To be honest, I was wondering how they were going to pull off this type of huge event, and the girl had even nervously warned me ahead of time that it was “in a ghetto place”. Turns out you don’t need a fancy ballroom to throw a great party – this was amazing. They had taken over the parking lot of their apartment building, and set up tables and speakers outside. The neighbors were somehow nice enough to allow blasting dance music outside their windows all night, and the parking lot was FULL of neighborhood kids all night long. Invited guests sat at folding tables, and plenty of others from the neighborhood stood around on the sidewalk and watched.
The girl was dressed in a huge frilly pink dress with the biggest hoop skirt you’ve ever seen and looked gorgeous. She was accompanied by six boys in black tuxes with pink ties and her boyfriend in a white tux. A couple of my students were in this group, and I can’t describe how adorable it was to watch my students dressed in tuxes and trying to be adults. The ceremony started with the girl’s father taking off her flats and replacing them with high heels, and then dancing a song with her. It was beautiful and she was crying. Then there was a choreographed dance with her and the seven boys (again, watching the kids pull this off was fantastic). Then the whole group disappeared up into her apartment, and the guests were left alone with Mexican food and music. Our students were fascinated seeing their teachers outside the school, and most of them weren’t too cool to hang out with us most of the night.
When the birthday girl and her boys returned, they were all wearing matching street clothes, and they informed the guests that we were in for a surprise… of course, my kids had decided to perform “the ghetto remix.” They got in the same formation they had for the traditional dance, but then broke into a choreographed dance to “Drop It Low” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPLz3gx_mp8&feature=related ). So well done. And hilarious.
The rest of the night turned into a dance party, with little kids chasing bubbles and the teachers line-dancing with our students (Cupid Shuffle, again). By the time we left, we’d been there for almost three hours of student bonding and culture sharing. Definitely worth putting in time on a Saturday night.