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The goal of “Ellas no bailan solas” is to show the history of Mexican migration to the United States at the end of the 20th century, as well as its traditions
“Ellas no bailan solas” is a photographic series of almost 100 images by Tijuana artist Angélica Escoto that documents the 15-year-old parties of the daughters of Mexican migrants in San Diego, California, and how people can move from one country to another, but their customs and traditions remain.
The objective behind the exhibition “Ellas no bailan solas”, which is located in the Tijuana Cultural Center (Cecut), is to show the history of Mexican migration to the United States at the end of the 20th century, which specifically includes families from the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacán, the main states that expelled the most migrants in the 1980s and 1990s.
Thanks to her constant passing between Tijuana and San Diego, the visual artist, Angélica Escoto, captures, through her lens, the connections of the Mexican migrant community of Southern California with the tradition of the 15-year-old parties: makeup, quinceañera dresses, the arrival of friends and family, the protocol of the party and the coexistence of the attendees.
The ritual of the party outside of Mexico withstands problems such as deportations and dysfunctional families; portrays feelings, expressions and desires of the community. “They don’t dance alone” reinforces loyalty, ties, solidarity and love.
Ellas no bailan solas portrays how the quinceañera tradition is lived
Over the past 12 years, more than 200 quinceañeras have been documented throughout San Diego County. Turning 15 can bring together an entire community in a house or a hall, spending more than 15 thousand dollars on preparations that are paid between relatives, friends and godparents. Oftentimes they send for a priest from Tijuana to officiate the mass.
Some relatives come from other states, such as Oregon, Arizona, Texas, and Chicago. They arrive with a gift and a carton of Pacifico or Carta Blanca beers, because it’s always better to have more. The food is almost always birria, only sometimes mole or carnitas. Everyone helps to serve, clean up, and cook.
The party is never canceled, even if the mother is hospitalized or, two days before the quinceañera’s father was arrested for driving without a license. The party starts early and ends early, because in San Diego the rules are different.
The typical family waltz is a must. Almost always to the rhythm of Tiempo de vals by Chayanne.
“Thank you for fulfilling my dreams” is one of the typical phrases that are heard in the celebrations of quinceañeras, dedicated to the relatives and godparents of the event.