Coronavirus spoiling Mexican teen girls’ coming out parties

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Jun 16 (efe-epa).- Alyson Joselyne turned 15 in April, that “most important” age for Mexican girls and when they hold their traditional “quinceañera” coming-out parties, but the coronavirus spoiled the celebration and those of many other 15-year-olds who have had to cancel the events that mark their debut in Mexican society.

The long pink dress with embroidery consisting of flowers and sparkles that Alyson was going to wear to her ball on April 4 is being kept in the closet in the hope that a new celebration date can be set, although it has already been postponed twice due to the Covid-19 crisis, which has resulted in 17,500 deaths in Mexico and more than 150,000 confirmed cases.

“I got mad, I felt bad and wanted to cry because we already had everything ready and I had really wanted it to go well,” the teen told EFE on Tuesday, noting that the ballroom they had rented had to shut down due to the quarantine launched in late March.

In fact, given the uncertainty of the previous days, Alyson was so nervous that she began to lose weight and the dress was too large for her.

The coming-out balls are deeply entrenched in Mexico’s conservative and traditional neighborhoods, with a certain amount of kitsch incorporated into the event celebrating the passage of young girls into womanhood at their 15th birthdays.

Alyson had seen her cousins enjoy their coming-out balls over the years and had dreamed of having a similar celebration herself. Her dress had already been bought, the Mass scheduled, the cake ordered, the invitations sent and the photo session completed, but everything was put on hold at the last minute.

Her parents tried to reschedule the ceremony for July but given the fears sparked amid the pandemic that wasn’t a long enough delay and they then rescheduled it for September.

Although Alyson tells her story with a resigned smile, it grinds at her that her celebration will not actually coincide with her 15th birthday.

“I still feel like a little girl. I feel that I’ll be 15 on the day of my party,” adding that right now she doesn’t feel 15 yet, laughing and saying that if she has to wait any longer her party will coincide with that of her 14-year-old sister Brenda.

Even so, she said she’s sure she’ll be able to hold her party in September and she’s been practicing the dance steps she’ll charm her guests with at the fete to numbers by Rihanna and Demi Lovato.

Alyson, who in a few years wants to study marketing in college, is well aware of the expenditures her parents and godparents have made for the party and doesn’t want it to go for nought or to dash the hopes of her mother, Alejandra, who as a girl could not celebrate her own “quinceañera” due to the death of her uncle.

Along Mexico City’s Republica de Chile Avenue are some 200 shops in which one can purchase wedding dresses, coming-out ball outfits and all the accoutrements, but they have been shuttered since March 30 and the suspension of practically all mass gatherings has hit their business really hard.

“It’s been an unimaginable economic blow,” Beatriz Franco, the manager for the Sharon design company, which has eight shops in the area, told EFE.

“We’ve had girls call us crying to tell us they’ve cancelled their events. It’s a very important tradition in the Mexican community,” Franco said, going on to say that the businesses that rent the event halls, the chairs, the musical groups and provide all the other elements of such parties have also suffered during the pandemic and lockdown.

In accord with Mexico City’s economic reactivation plan, shops in the district will be able to open again on Thursday, but authorization to begin holding large gatherings again will depend on the evolution of the pandemic.


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