Quiero Mis Quinces

While few girls are lucky enough to even have a quinceañera, even fewer are lucky enough to have their quince featured on a hit television show. Jazmine Gomez from Panorama City, CA was one of the chosen few to have her quince featured on Quiero Mis Quinces, a Tr3s: MTV Musica y Mas series that takes an inside look at over-the-top quinceañeras. This electro street dancing, graffiti-loving chica is unlike any other Quiero Mis Quinces has seen.

Jazmine, a junior in high school who loves to dance and play softball, was shocked when she found out that her sister had submitted her quinceañera to be featured on Quiero Mis Quinces. “I didn’t even know my sister contacted them,” Gomez said. “But when I found out I was excited. I wanted to show people that having a quinceañera in their backyard was not that different and that all you need is your family and love to have a great quince.”

Her Arabian themed quince, equipped with original decorations, a belly dance performed by Jazmine herself and surprise artist, Jen Carlos Canela, was everything Jazmine had dreamed for. But her dream-come-true quince didn’t seem like it was in arm’s reach. When her mother suffered from a blood clot a year after her older sister, Mila, had her quince, Jazmine didn’t expect to have one herself. But quinceañeras are an important tradition for her Salvadorian mother’s side of the family.

“My mom was very supportive and told me that you only turn 15 once. She said that, no matter what, she would help me have my quince,” Gomez said.

Jazmine, grateful to her family for their support, was thrown another curveball when she found out she would have to have her quince in her own backyard.

“In the beginning I was embarrassed to have it in my backyard because no one has it in the backyard. I wanted an elegant quinceañera but I realized we couldn’t afford one and that there were no halls that could be transformed into my Arabian theme,” Gomez said.

Jazmine eventually accepted having a backyard quince and even began to embrace the idea. Luckily, her uncle stepped in to help her transform her backyard into an exotic Arabian themed party.

“I ended up really liking it in the backyard because it was something unique. I was really grateful for just having a quinceañera and it turned out to be really nice. My uncle saved my quince by coming in with his company and offering to do all the decorations. I even got to have a surprise artist,” she said.

Quiero Mis Quinces, which is a similar to My Super Sweet Sixteen but with a Latina twist, sends cameras behind the scenes as teens prep for their coming-to-age celebrations. For Jazmine, having these cameras on her all the time was just part of the fun of planning her quince.

“It was a lot of fun and I felt like a movie star,” she said. “At first, it made me a little self conscious having cameras following me but I really don’t care what people say about me so I got used to it.”

From the second Jazmine made her grand appearance at her fiesta, she was shining and loving every moment of it. She got the party started by performing her solo belly dance for the crowd.

“As the spotlight hit my face, I was so nervous but this was my time to shine,” she said. “As I was belly dancing with the drummer, I felt like I was making the music with my own body.”

Traditionally a quinceañera marks a girl’s transition into becoming a young woman and taking the initiative to declare her faith and responsibility to it.

“It means that you are becoming a young adult and you will make smart choices. Your quince signifies purity and that you are now responsible for your own choices. It also means that you have support from your family and that you’re becoming a young adult,” Gomez said.

And for Jazmine, who has never been allowed to have a boyfriend before, it also means that she can now start dating.

She joked, “Hello America I’m officially ready to have a boyfriend,” and winked to the camera.

Jazmine brought together the old and the new to her quince, adding a new spice to the traditions of her Salvadorian and Columbian heritage.

“In our [Salvadorian] tradition we actually don’t get a white dress. The dresses are always very colorful. We also don’t do any of the shoe changing or the doll traditions like other cultures do,” she said.

Everyone knows, though, that behind every fabulous celebration, there are months of planning, stressful encounters with parents and, of course, lots of drama. Jazmine’s advice for girls who are about to have a quince is to enjoy themselves and be grateful for every moment.

“My advice is to just be grateful, not a lot of girls get to have a quince. When you don’t like something it’s ok to speak out about it but don’t be rude”, she said. “One thing that I regret is that I didn’t really take a lot of pictures with my family. I would have just enjoyed myself a little bit more if I could have done anything differently.”

Ask Jazmine about her favorite part of her big day and she won’t answer that it was having her surprise artist show up, or having the spotlight on her all night but rather that she had her family all together for once.

“I got to have all my great grandparents [from Salvador and Columbia] there and I really thank God for that,” she said. “I got to dance with my great grandpa who was 96 years old. That was really special for me.”

According to Jazmine, having a quince is only one way to show your heritage and tradition. Another simple tradition that Jazmine loves is going to her grandma’s house early in the morning to eat and gather with her family.

“My grandma will make Salvadorian food and we’ll all be there laughing and eating,” she said.

She thinks that it’s important for a person to keep their heritage alive and to share it with their friends.

“I have a lot of different friends from different cultures. It’s cool because I’ll get to go to their house and eat a lot of different types of foods and they all think differently and we can all keep our own cultures by sharing it with each other,” she said.

Jazmine’s future plans include going to college to become either a child psychologist or a veterinarian. No matter where she goes, though, she plans to stay true to her Latina roots.

“You never want to forget who you really are,” she said. “Whoever your parents are that’s your heritage and who you are.”

By Dejeanne Doublet

Speak Your Mind