lunes, 14 de octubre de 2013

La Quinceañera del Parque

This photo always makes me giggle.  The quinceañera: Mexico at its most extravagant and ridiculous.  I didn't even know that dresses like this actually existed in real life before I arrived in Mexico.  Walking through the streets of Mexico City, I passed a store that sold quinceañera dresses.  I couldn't help but stare they were so... flamboyant.  Shaking my head, I told myself that it had just been some kind of fancy dress shop.  I managed to go on believing this for about three weeks, until in Guadalajara I found myself walking around "that part of town".  All up, there were about twenty stores selling these outrageous dresses, each one seeming crazier than the last.  There were all kinds of ornamentation: wings, leopard print, sparkles, but mostly there was plenty of poof.  This was when I knew that it was probably not just your average fancy dress.

It turns out the quinceañera is a girl celebrating her fifteenth birthday, when she is seen to go from being a kid to a woman.  Just like that, a flick of the switch.  Of course, this idea in itself is not so strange, after all in Australia we have debutantes.  I just love the idea of the quinceañera so much because it does the typical Mexican; it takes what is a fairly normal custom and then seems to have taken a step back, asking itself - but how can I make it more.... jazzy?  The result is a ritual which combines the church and community with a bursting forth of exuberance that seems to hit you over the head, leaving you wondering where it came from?

The quinceañeras are one of my favourite parts of Mexico; they pop up from nowhere when you least expect it.  For instance, this photo was taken on a casual picnic in the park; but I've also seen the girls posing in front of fountains and even once on a roundabout.  That they can just appear, so unexpectedly, is what I love about Mexico.  It takes the extreme, the extraordinary, the ridiculous and makes it the everyday.  Life in Mexico is really quite dream-like: dramatic, colourful, startling and sometimes scary things happen, but no one misses a beat, everything just keeps going on.  - Did you see the girl in the giant purple dress lying on the grass with people attending her skirts?  - Oh, what? The quinceañera? Yeah, I think so.

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