WOO HOO!! Is what you might hear if you walk into one of our “Sirena” gatherings.
The women in my family are powerful, passionate, and vivacious. Oh, and hilarious! Which is just as important in this family to have a sense of humor. Every so often they gather to play a traditional Mexican game called, “Lotería” or often times referred to as Mexican Bingo.
It’s a game we all grew up playing on both sides of the border, Mexico and the United States. The ladies in my family have taken it one step further. They’ve created an actual club for it, “El Club de Las Sirenas”.
Q: How did the club originate?
A: I started the club sort of as a compliment to what the men in our family had already been playing for years- dominoes…. I felt we needed our own space and traditions, and being all about female empowerment, I wanted to create a way for us to have the same camaraderie that the men were having with their domino playing- again, not to compete but to compliment. And so the club was born, and here we are today, going on seven years strong!
Q: What are the club rules?
A: 1. If you show up, you must play – no spectators allowed!
2. If your birthday is that month, your first game is gratis (free)!
3. If you are late by over an hour, your first game is twice the price!
4. Typical Lotería game winning patterns will be followed: linea, cuatro esquinas, diagonal, etc. Plus letters are allowed too: J,C,M…
5. If you win, you must shout “Lotería!” – not “Bingo” (“Buenas!” Is ok too).
6. If you win with the rotating good luck Sirena, you win double the pot!
7. Good luck Sirenas, charms, etc are accepted and encouraged!
8. No chapuzas – or you will be kicked out of the club!
9. If you let your winning card pass you up, you can’t claim that win!
10. The big ganadora at the end of the night hosts the next gathering (unless another Sirena volunteers).
11. The next gathering date is chosen by the winning Sirena.
12. The losing Sirenas (no game won) play their first game free at the next gathering.
13. Last game of the night is carta llena (full card) for $1.
14. Have fun! Diviertanse!
Q: How long do you hope the club will continue?
A: I hope the club continues as long as possible so our younger generation can carry on the cultural tradition of playing Lotería, but more importantly, then can see the value and fun in gathering together as a family. All too often, weddings and funerals are the only times we see family – and it shouldn’t be that way!
For my last question, I opened it up to the other Sirenas in the club.
Q: What is your favorite thing about, “El Club de Las Sirenas”?
Lucy Amaya (mi tia) says: I enjoy seeing my aunts and learning about their generation and times. How the gentlemen were not permitted to date unless you ask parents for permission and the difficulties of moving to a different country…. Family is important in our culture, but when you come into Las Sirenas and you are not family, you will definitely become family. So yes, we are women, who get together for a day of playing Lotería, sharing our stories, sharing our troubles, but mainly sharing our love for one another.
Maria Rosario (mi tia) says: I take this opportunity to get together with family and have a good time. I get such a rush when I see new members join our club and it’s not because the pot gets bigger!! It’s all about more family getting interested in being part of our little humble club.
Angelica Galicia (mi prima) says: Even if I don’t go often, when I do it feels like I never missed a game day. Our family is welcoming to the point that sometimes it’s even hard to leave… I enjoy winning because I like hosting…figuring out the menu, how I’m going to decorate, and make everyone feel at home. It’s also nice to add some extra coins to the cochinito…
It’s a privilege to hear first-hand accounts of my family throughout the years. My hope is that our club not only inspires the ladies in our familia, but yours, as well. Getting together with a community of women, married, divorced, immigrants, citizens, mothers, single mothers, non mothers, all family, is empowering to us all who gather. When you notice your cheeks hurt from so much laughter and smiling, whatever you may be going through at that time in your life doesn’t matter. The women in my family have a way of uplifting one another through migrations, frustrations, and through the generations. Leave your ego at the door, because once we start playing, we’re all the same little girls we were when we first started playing Lotería as children.
Life is short not to get to know the incredible women we come from. I’m forever humbled to be in the presence of such strength, wisdom, and women of infinite faith. Every time I leave them, I’m left a better woman. May we continue to grow and bring generations of our family together. ¡Viva El Club de Las Sirenas! Woo – Hoo!!