COVID canceled their quinceañera. Now they are dieciseis and the party is on

A customer is outfitted for a quinceañera dress at Lily’s Creations in Chula Vista. After more than a year of postponed or postponed holidays, the quinceañera celebrations return. (Sydney Prather)

A year and a half ago, Celia Barrios saw her business dry up. The COVID-19 pandemic had put the quinceañeras on hold, leaving Barrios with a loss of income of $ 150,000.

“This is my baby that I have been cultivating for years,” Barrios said of Tiaras & Tacones, his Burbank quinceañera planning company. “And it had just come to fruition where I saw such growth. And it has just come to a complete stop.

But in recent months, the celebrations – a rite of passage to adulthood for 15-year-old Latinas – have returned. And some failures in 2020 are making up for it, even though they are now 16.

Before the pandemic, Barrios was booking three events per week at an average rate of $ 25,000. Today, she receives up to 30 inquiries a week, some for dates as far back as 2023.

“Weekends are busy. I’m booked back to back and love it,” Barrios said. “It is such a special event for our culture.”

In Los Angeles – where Latinos make up 48.6% of the population, according to the latest U.S. census – quinceañeras are a mainstay of social calendars in many households. A quinceañera is a debutante-style celebration with Catholic overtones, usually beginning with a mass. Then there are choreographed dances, music, food, and symbolic events marking the arrival of a celebrant into adulthood.

A typical quinceañera costs over $ 21,000 and includes over 200 guests, according to a 2019 study by Mi Padrino, an organization dedicated to planning Latino events.

This makes these parties a great business for event planners, venues, party rental companies, groups, clothing stores, and choreographers. All took a heavy blow when most of the quinceaneras, as well as weddings, Sweet 16s, proms, bar and bat mitzvahs and other celebrations were put on hold.

Cynthia Garcia, choreographer and owner of My Quince Dances, has now said that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, she is receiving triple the number of inquiries she made before the pandemic. There is so much demand that she has to turn down some customers.

“I offer them the information of other choreographers, and I let them know that these people may be able to help you,” Garcia said. “But we can’t take everyone.”

With some clients, Barrios tried to pick up where it left off during the pandemic. She said she managed to keep 80% of her bookings from 2020, many of which were forced to postpone their big day.

“A lot of people have rescheduled three times and have just celebrated their events,” she said. “I have been planning with them for over two years.”

For some customers, there have been too many stops and starts: “Everyone is like, ‘Oh, this is going to be over in three months. Oh, it’s gonna be over in six months, nine months, “and then you’ve got 12 months,” she said. “Some ended up canceling.”

While many festivities are resuming, the pandemic has in some ways changed the shape of the celebrations. Garcia and Barrios said they are now seeing quinceañeras getting smaller and even moving away from typical places. In some cases, that means backyard parties with no more than 40 guests.

the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention recommends that events where not all participants are fully immunized be held outdoors, with social distancing and frequent cleaning of facilities.

In parts of southern California, event planners have seen their activity decline in recent weeks due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

This quinceañera boom won’t last forever – it’s not every year that 16-year-olds also celebrate quinces. For Barrios, 60% of current customers are deferred 2020 celebrants.

Regardless of the birthday girl’s age, Barrios said it was a day they should be proud of, with all the glitz and glamor.

“I love what it means, to my culture and to the young girls growing up here in the United States,” she said. “It’s a mix of our traditions with pop culture, with social media, with celebrity weddings, all mixed into one – they pull from all aspects of the event industry, then they pull it off. blend with our culture. “

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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