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'Quinceañeras Move The Money Around Our Community'

Stephanie Serrano KUNR

The quinceañera industry is continuing to grow in Reno, increasing the economic impact in our community and providing jobs for many locals in the area. Our reporter Stephanie Serrano dives into the industry and explores what it takes to really put on a  quinceañera. Serrano is with Noticiero Móvila Spanish-English multimedia news outlet for Northern Nevada and part of the Reynolds School of Journalism. 

15-year-old Angélica Puga believes that having a quinceañera is more than just the glitz and glamour; it is the moment she becomes an independent Latina.  

“When you were a little girl, you would ask your parents for help and they would help you make the right decision," Puga explains, "but now they just give you advice so you can learn from your mistakes and learn how to make your own choices and just accept the right consequences."

Quinceañeras are Latin American traditions which are meant to celebrate a young girl becoming a woman. The average quinceañera can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000. That includes the venue, entertainment, catering, photography, videography, and the wardrobe for the birthday girl and 8 of her closest friends.

Credit Stephanie Serrano KUNR
La ultima muñeca, or the last doll, is a gift the quinceañera receives on her big day. It is a significant milestone as her last childhood toy now that she is becoming a young woman.

The quinceañera’s loved ones contribute financially to make the celebration come true. They are called padrinos, or godparents, and they can sponsor specific items like the heels, the crown, the cake or the dress, which--on the low end--is at least $600.

Lily Gutierrez has owned a store for the quinceañera business for four years on Wells Avenue in MidTown Reno.

Her store is filled wall-to-wall with elegant, bold dresses of every color and material from lace to silk to tulle, along with intricate beading.

"Just the dress, the most expensive one, costs $1,500 to $2,000,” Gutierrez says. "We also sell dresses for quinceañeras in packages, and we rent tuxedos for her chambelanes, as well as decorations, tablecloths, tables, chairs--everything you need for the party.”

Credit Stephanie Serrano KUNR
Besides the dresses put on display, Lily Gutierrez also has multiple catalogs so customers can place customized dress orders.

But those are just the basics of the party planning. There are also three main, choreographed dances the quinceañera and her damas and chambelanes perform at the fiesta. Those damas and chambelanes are like members of a bridal party

Juan Briones began his dancing career 13 years ago in Mexico City while studying to become an engineer. He moved to the United States in 2011 and started his choreography business called Stylos Dance on Wells Avenue, one year later.

“The opening dance is the waltz and it introduces the quinceañera to her guests,” Briones says. “Then comes the main dance where she dances with her damas and chambelanes."

Afterward is what we call  “the surprise dance” where the quinceañera chooses a mix of songs with different musical rhythms she likes, like bachata, merengue, hip-hop, rock 'n' roll, duranguence, quebradita and cumbia.”

His group practices three months before each event. 

Credit Stephanie Serrano KUNR
Most main performances have a special move in them like lifting the quinceañera in the air. Which is why Juan Briones takes practicing three months before the event so serious.

Briones says his busy season starts in March and ends in October, and he work roughly 60 quinceañeras per year. When he’s not busy with that, he’s busy updating his YouTube channel, Stylos Dance NV. His most popular video has close to 30,000 views, and Briones is just one of many local entrepreneurs invested in the industry.

“It is so important because so many people live off of this industry: DJs, the cake maker, decorations, the people who sell dresses, rent the tuxedos, the ones who do photography and video, those of us who do the choreography, people who make invitations, musicians, bands. All of these services profit from the fiestas. Quinceañeras move the money around our community,” Briones says.

The Reno/Sparks Chamber of Commerce does not have any data on Latino businesses including those focusing on quinceañeras right now, though the group wants to change that. In the meantime, Briones is convinced that this industry has a significant impact on the local economy.  

Stephanie Serrano is a senior at the Reynolds School of Journalism, which operates Noticiero Móvil, a multimedia bilingual news outlet.

Credit Vanessa Vancour Noticiero Móvil
Bilingual Reporter Stephanie Serrano interviewing Jailene Esquivel after her surprise dance performance.

Stephanie Serrano (she/her/ella) is an award-winning multimedia bilingual journalist based in Reno, Nevada. Her reporting is powered by character-driven stories and is rooted in sound-rich audio. Her storytelling works to share the experiences of unserved communities in regards to education, race, affordable housing and sports.
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