This year I had the pleasure of joining the team from my home church in Dearborn as they spent a week at our home in Kusi and a long weekend in Ica. During the weekend in Ica, the group and I were invited to join Augusto and Nancy as they celebrated their eldest daughter, Sheyli’s fifteenth birthday. In Peru and much of Latin America, the quinceañera (or simply quince) is the celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday. It isn’t just any regular birthday as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood.
Wanting to make this a grand affair, Augusto and Nancy hosted a party for Sheyli at a reception hall next to the Girasoles home in Ica and invited many guests from their church, family, friends from Ica, and the group from Dearborn.
Since this was a formal affair, the guys were taken to rent suits. For 30 soles (about $11) they were able to rent a suit coat and pants for 2 nights to wear. It is really common and inexpensive to be able to rent formal wear (like suits, formal dresses – even wedding dresses!) since most Peruvians don’t own clothing like this because they rarely need to wear it.
Since the guys rented suits, the girls decided to get our hair styled before the party – another deal at just 30 soles (or $11).
And afterward, we all rushed back to the Girasoles house to change…
David (second from the left) with the Girasoles boys that were invited to the party.
The party was scheduled to begin at 8pm, but in typical Peruvian fashion, guests streamed in the doors for a few hours until Sheyli, Augusto and Nancy arrived at 10:30pm.
Typically, the party begins begins with the arrival of the birthday girl, wearing a special ball gown style dress and accompanied by her father. As the father and daughter make their way through the guests, the daughter receives 15 roses or extinguishes 15 candles from special, influential people in her life. Immediately after this, the waltz ceremony begins where the birthday girl dances with her father, brother, uncles, grandparents and other important male guests.
Sheyli dancing with her younger brother, Augustito.
Following the dancing, the parents and special guests give speeches about the birthday girl.
During the reception, the birthday girl usually performs a dance with her “chambelan de honor” (her chosen escort) and her court of honor. Usually this dance is previously practiced and choreographed weeks in advance, and sometimes with months of anticipation.
Sheyli decided to use this opportunity to dance with her Girasoles brothers and one special guest from the Dearborn group, David.
Afterward, a hora loca (where dance music is played for an hour) commenced. Balloons, whistles, noisemakers, masks and confetti were given out to the guests.
About 1:30am after the crazy hour of dancing, a full dinner was served to the guests.
And at about 3:30am after the guests had left, we had a little photo shoot with the birthday girl.
It was a long night (we didn’t get back to our bungalows until after 4am), but it was a lot of fun being able to celebrate with Augusto and Nancy and to be there for Sheyli’s big night!