By Adriana Mendez

«We request the presence of the quinceañera’s parents on stage to deliver her last doll!»

«Please let her sister Karla come over, to put on her shoes and the crown!»

Through different postures and dance steps, the chamberlains created a throne for the coronation of the new queen, and a human corridor for the quinceañera to show off her new silver high-heeled, platform shoes in all her splendor. Both my eyes, and I think my mouth too, were opening more and more, as I was witnessing the solemnity and beauty surrounding the multiple rituals of the celebration. I didn’t want to miss a single detail. Godparents, friends and relatives of the celebrant, paraded through the center of the venue to accompany and witness the ritual of passage. The night exuded joy, color, and affection.

Eduardo and Remedios took care of every detail. Starting with the invitation they brought personally to my house, to the bottle of mezcal they gave me when I said goodbye. The bottle had a photo of Maricruz dressed as a quinceañera on the label.

The celebration began with a mass at the Valle del Maíz church, a neighborhood very close to where I live. I was a few minutes late, so I stood at the door of the church, and remained there during the entire mass. I was able to appreciate the details of this small and beautiful church. Its altar is flooded by the rays of light that enter through a stained glass window, and the brightness of the ancient crystal chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. Several arched niches, lined with Arabic-style pink quarry, frame the altarpiece. One is semicircular, and three ogee arches have Jesus, Mary and Joseph within. The flower arrangements, which were placed along the corridor were in lilac tones, matching the party’s dress color. I let my gaze fall to the handmade paste mosaic floor. That, and the memories it evoked, distracted my attention for a few minutes. It reminded me of the times at my grandmother’s colonial house in Lagos de Moreno, where I spent many summers of my childhood.

A band waited in the wide atrium of the church to accompany the quinceanera and her guests. With them we all moved toward the Los Pinos hall, located a few blocks away. The size and layout of the place surprised me. A central court of about two hundred square meters, is surrounded by a two-story corridor, in the style of a colonial house. Here, judging by my calculations, tables for two thousand people could fit. The four hundred guests gradually arrived.

«Please take her to the table where my friend Isabel, Maricruz, is sitting,» said the quinceañera’s mother. I spent the entire afternoon, and part of the night with the comadre, her mother, and her daughter. Three generations of kind, and talkative women. Isabel told me, with a smile and a mischievous tone, that when she was young she attended the weekend dances with the hosts and other friends, in this same room. The waiters brought the food, prepared by a caterer from Comonfort, a neighboring city of San Miguel. Guadalupe, the grandmother, did not miss a detail, she was attentive to everything that was happening around her: the photos the guests took in an arch decorated with balloons that was very close to our table, the salsa steps that some couples proudly exhibited, and the music video clips that flashed on the screen, in one of the headers of the track.

While appreciating the multi-tiered cake, the long canvases of fabric in lilac tones that hung from the ceiling, and the balloon towers that marked the runway, I glanced at my tablemates. How I would have liked to see through the eyes of Guadalupe and Isabel who know who is who and with whom. I imagined the connections her brain made between her watchful eye, and her memory that drew family trees, and recalled scenes from the distant and not so distant past. We all waited anxiously for the sun to go down so the waltz would begin. This tradition was inherited from Maximiliano and Carlota, as well as the flowing princess-style dresses. The chamberlains who made the announcements wore black suits and white tennis shoes. As soon as it was dark, the nervous choreographer gave instructions to the musicians, and the quinceañera’s long dress was transformed into a kind of ballet tutu. The dance began with the graceful steps of Maricruz and her entourage of dancers who delighted us, and surprised me, with well-rehearsed steps for three or four modern English songs.

I felt the presence of Félix, the oldest son of the family, who, at sixteen went to work in the United States. He surely must have sent money to help with the expenses. It makes me so angry to think of the premature, and forced separation of so many Mexican families, as well as the sorrows that millions of forced migrants go through for economic reasons! I was moved by the way in which Remedios and Eduardo talked to each other. Throughout the party, they went around all the tables of the room, to serve and enjoy the company of their guests. 

They obviously had splurged totally, and put out their hearts for their guests. They must have felt great satisfaction in organizing an event in which young people have such a good time. People not only dance and sing, but are moved and thankful for having been a part of such a celebration. I left feeling more alive, and grateful once again for having participated in yet another celebration in San Miguel de Allende. This is a wonderful town with an enviable festive mood running through its veins. It never tires in requesting the presence of fireworks, dancers, and musicians in its streets, churches, and neighborhoods.