Across Latino and Latin American households, 15th birthdays are observed with quinceañeras, larger-than-life celebrations that mark a young girl’s transition into adulthood. Much like snowflakes, no two quinces are alike. But they do follow a certain set of traditions. Before the hours-long parties begin, young women often go to mass to renew their commitment to their faith. They also wear huge, multi-layered dresses – often in blush tones but sometimes in bold colors and patterns – and arrive at a banquet hall ready to dazzle a crowd alongside their best friends and family members. They dance with their chambelanes and their damas to a medley of songs, and then frequently turn their dads into blubbering messes as the two waltz to Chayanne’s “Tiempo de Vals.” And the night isn’t over until the quinceañeras’ symbolic passage to adulthood – either changing from flats to heels or receiving their last dolls.
As times have changed over the years, so have the celebrations. From young women opting to dance with their mothers to families hiring professionals to serve as chambelanes to party themes incorporating bits of pop culture (see: Harry Potter quince), the parties have evolved to fit individuals’ personalities and circumstances. These bashes – which some dismiss as frilly and old-fashioned – have also entered into the public consciousness, giving even non-Latinos ideas on how to celebrate 15th birthdays (i.e. a quince for their poodles). But perhaps my favorite iteration of a quince is the doble quince, aka the treintañera, aka the quince x two. When some Latinxs turn 30, they throw themselves quince-style parties, complete with multi-tier cakes, choreographed dance routines, and new enhancements (lots of liquor).
I arrived at the idea of a double quince independently, but after poring over several social media sites, I realized it wasn’t even close to an original idea. Many others had also decided that their 30th birthday called for impressive fetes. Eager to learn more, we put out a call on Remezcla’s accounts and were met with a steady stream of emails from people who generously shared their stories with us. Some didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate their 15th birthday as they would have liked, while others wanted to relive one of the most memorable moments of their lives. And still another group just wanted to enter their fourth decade in style.
Though we unfortunately couldn’t feature all of them (and there were so many good ones), check out why seven people decided to ring in their 30th year with a quince.
At 15, Arlyne “Arlo” Ramirez didn’t like traditionally “girly” activities. So when it came time for her quince, she protested to no avail. “It was forced upon me, and I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy it all,” she says. “My parents paid for it, so they invited mostly family and their friends – and I could only invite four of my friends to my XV.”
When she was 29, she attended an event and realized that right next door someone was hosting a doble 15. That’s when she realized she could throw her own quince now, and have control of every detail. Her invitations made use of her 15s photos, and during the event, her nearly 60 guests posed in front of a backdrop of penguins or a Photoshopped version of her 15-year-old self that looked less like a princess and more like a devilish Black Swan.
For the event, Arlo and a group of her friends took pictures in front of the iconic quince mural at the intersection of Lemoyne Street and Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. She opted to buy a new dress for the occasion, which led to a misunderstanding at the store. “I got confused for a 15-year-old by the store owner, and they [said] that I needed my parents’ signature to try on the dress,” she says.
The quince took place on January 26, 2015 at Lash in downtown Los Angeles. Cardboard cutouts of her at 15, pink and white balloons, and hella penguins decorated the venue. The highlight of the night was a performance by Andrew Taylor, a Selena impersonator. Because she only paid for the cake, dress, Photobooth, and decorations, the entire party came in at just a little under $1,300.
Patric Prado’s party wasn’t just an ordinary doble XV, it was more a double doble XV, as he and his twin brother, York, hosted a joint party for their 30th. Taking place at El Rio in San Francisco in collaboration with Azucar, a queer club night, the event came at a time when many marginalized groups saw how Donald Trump’s policies would upend their lives. So on top of celebrating their birthdays, the Prado brothers also made community a focus of their event.
“I had just moved to the same city as my twin brother – we haven’t lived in the same city since we were 18 and moved away to college,” Patric says. “We wanted a place to celebrate with friends, new and old. My old friends came and crammed into my one bedroom. My mom also came from Florida across the US. It was great having a party and having the proceeds go to a trans organization, which supports undocumented citizens.”
This party also gave him a chance to celebrate himself in a way that he never would have at 15. And he had a large support system that helped make it possible. “My mom has always been there for me in whatever I wanted to do,” he says. “My brother helped also in procuring a camera person. My friends were super excited, and even went with me to help pick out my dress.”
At 15, Rosario knew her parents would throw her a quince, but instead, she told them to use the money they had saved for a downpayment on a house. “It was a very easy decision for me to make,” she says. “I did want to make it up though.” So when she turned 30, she decided to go big.
For one month, she and her 11 damas – all of whom wore hot pink – went to treintañera dance practice, making it the first time the party choreographer they hired had ever worked on a quince-style 30th. It was as exciting for Rosario as it was for her friends, many of whom had either never had a quince or participated in one. She even had one friend drive the roughly 80 miles between Oakland and Sacramento, where Rosario lives, to attend the dance practices. Some of the damas she worked with practiced their dance moves in the halls of their offices during breaks.
Before the party, she and her crew hit up a park to take the requisite quince photos. Posing in front of murals and on a merry-go-round, the 12 women looked more like a bride and her bridesmaids. But once they got to the venue, a dance hall, they probably felt more like teenagers. They danced to two songs, which Rosario describes as “beautiful and full of sisterhood.”
The party cost around $3,800, but Rosario only paid a few hundred dollars. Her friends and family members acted as her madrinas and padrinos and made her dream doble XV a reality.
Growing up, Sandra Olarte-Hayes badly wanted a quince, but couldn’t have one for financial reasons – and because her moms didn’t approve of some of the aspects of the party. “I think [one of my mothers’] issues with the quinceañera traditions while I was growing up had more to do with the focus on purity, virginity, and becoming a ‘woman’ at 15,” she says. But when she turned 30, Olarte-Hayes’ mom saw it as more of a celebration of self and community and chipped in, helping her bake the cake and preparing a large portion of the food. She also came down from New Jersey to Austin to take part in the momentous occasion.
Olarte-Hayes got the idea to celebrate the party after learning her friend Natalia had done a more stripped down version of a doble quince when she turned 30. Her friends, who knew how much she wanted a celebration of her own at 15, encouraged her to go for it and generously contributed to keep costs low. The total came in at about $600. It was a very hands-on experience, with her guests helping with everything from the food to putting together the tiny bottles of spicy tequila that served as party favors.
Though she did things her way, she wove in some traditions. “I also had a first waltz, which I did with my one of my mothers since I wasn’t raised with a father figure. She was very excited about it and insisted that we practice beforehand.”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t share the experience with her other mother – who passed away when Sandra was 20. But Sandra believes she made her proud. “I like to think that she would have been happy to see me embracing this part of the culture she worked so hard to pass on to me,” she says. “And I can imagine her having been incredibly happy to see me throwing myself a party exactly the way I wanted to and celebrating myself extravagantly without shame or modesty.”
When Tanya Cornejo told her mom she wanted to have a quince on her 30th, her mom was hesitant. After all, Tanya’s 15th birthday bash did cost nearly $15,000. Her friends, who had never heard of a quince x two, also didn’t seem convinced. But for Tanya, having a doble XV meant gathering her family and loved ones under one roof on her special day. “What I really wanted was to have all of my family together – as many of them as possible – and just celebrate life,” she says.
Eventually, they all came around, with the party taking place at her parents’ house, with papel picado and tissue flowers decorating their backyard. Though it was a more laid-back event – no one spent their day at the salon or wore a tux – she hired a taquero, had a massive Frida Kahlo piñata, and a mesa de dulces. Tanya also wowed guests by fitting into the same white strapless dress she wore 15 years before. “Everyone, as you can imagine, was in utter shock that a. it still fit and b. that it still fit,” she adds.
Though she loved both her 15th and 30th birthday celebrations, she says it’d be hard to top her coming-of-age party. “The entire day was an event – from getting my hair and makeup done to going to church and commemorating the transition from little girl to womanhood in front of the eyes of God, to then taking photos with my court right before our grand entrance into the venue,” she says. “My quince was an entire day dedicated to my transition. My treintañera was great, but less extravagant and more about recordando bonitos momentos de hace 15 años, getting the family together, and celebrating a birthday.”
For Judy Razo’s 30th, her friend’s house was transformed into a quince-worthy hall with a balloon arch, tulle, and about 75 of her loved ones. She and her friends came up with the party after a brainstorming session. “We joked about how there should be a commemorative party for big birthdays similar to when we turned 15, and the treintañera was born,” she says. But unlike her quince, this one was all about fun and making poking fun at a society that thinks 30 is old.
Originally, she played with the idea of renting a small space, but when her friend offered her house, she accepted, and that’s how she ended up with a “very decorated and planned house party.” It did still follow some of the typical parts of a quince. She had damas, who all wore the same dress, and chambelanes, who wore tuxedo T-shirts. There were also mariachis, a plate full of peanuts, and of course, a picture of the treintañera at the entrance.
As someone who has now had a quince and doble quince, she’d choose the latter celebration, which she estimates cost around $1,000. “I did have a quince, a very large and traditional one with a live band and everything,” she says. “My treintañera was by far a better experience. There was no pressure, I got to drink, and the friends that attended were true and heartfelt relationships that I had maintained for years.”
Ana Breton didn’t want a quince. Living in a predominately white town, she didn’t feel comfortable celebrating her culture. “Diverse students would be made fun of at my school, so I sort of kept it quiet,” she says. “I didn’t tell a lot of people that my family was Mexican.”
A year or two before she turned 30, she realized that mathematically a 30th birthday worked out to two quinces, so she started putting a plan in motion. Calling up different banquet halls in the New York City area, she realized just how much work goes into making these parties a reality. “Planning a quince gave me so much more respect to the parents of quinceañeras, these things are not cheap,” she adds.
Ultimately, she decided to take the celebration to Iguana, a Mexican restaurant in Times Square, where she could really “celebrate the hell out of” her culture.
Though she also went dress shopping, she eventually decided to use Rent the Runway (where you can rent fancy gowns) to keep costs low. Her friends followed suit and dressed up. But even without the frills of bigger parties, Ana showed that you can embody the spirit of quinces with the right company.