Alexa

Mexico City stages mass 'quinceanera' ball for disadvantaged girls

Mexico City stages mass 'quinceanera' ball for disadvantaged girls

Almost 200 poor teenagers posed in donated ball gowns and danced traditional waltzes Saturday as Mexico City's government threw a mass "quinceanera" coming-out party for disadvantaged girls.
The keynote speaker was a 16-year-old who said she missed having her own quinceanera, the traditional right of passage for girls near their 15th birthday, because she was busy caring for the baby she had at 14. She urged the other girls to make informed choices.
Many of the participants at the ball in Mexico City's main plaza were juvenile offenders, shelter residents or girls from poor families.
"I'm very happy, because this is a tradition which we should all continue," said Rosa Nayeli Lagunes, 14, who showed up in a red taffeta dress with an embroidered white bodice. Fourteen-year-olds who will turn 15 this year were also allowed to participate.
Quinceanera parties in Mexican society often rival weddings in expense and fanfare. But girls from poor families often miss out on the tradition. The parties have become increasingly popular in the U.S. as the country's Hispanic population grows.
A truck brought bouquets of roses and lilies and huge sacks of rose petals for the event in Mexico City's main plaza. Instead of traditional carriages, open-top tour buses were sent to ferry the girls to the ball.
Mexico City authorities said they contacted officials at the Guinness Book of World Records to see if they had set a record for largest quinceanera, but it was unclear if any Guinness representative were on hand to certify the event.
The city's Youth Institute, which organized the event, said about 180 girls participated, including some older than 15 who had never had a coming-out party.
The city government also showcased sexual education information at the event. Some of the girls were given sashes to wear, each bearing the name of an area in which young people have rights: education, recreation, and a clean environment.
This week, Mexico City enacted a law legalizing abortion, the first of its kind in Mexico.
Many of the girls spent the day at a city building, doing their hair and applying donated makeup.
"They are excited, with their dreams and their dresses," said Deyanira Moran, an outreach officer for the city's Youth Institute.
The only thing in short supply at Saturday's ball were tuxedo-wearing boys _ usually relatives _ known as "chambelanes," who traditionally serve as escorts at such events.
"Not everyone" has an escort, Lagunes said. "We've been sharing them."
Since taking office in December, leftist Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has become known for offering free cultural events, including free "urban beaches" at local parks made with trucked-in sand.


Updated : 2021-04-17 10:45 GMT+08:00