Meet the woman making Long Beach a bit more bubbly

“The bubbles spread happiness, you know… They have a brain of their own, a personality of their own—and people see and feel that,” Victoria Renyafarje said, standing on Pine Avenue Pier as she dipped her pair of giant sticks tied together with circles of mini-ropes into a bucket of soapy water.

Then, gently lifting the handmade contraption, she masterfully moves them through the air. Victoria calls this “aligning the brains,” because according to her philosophy, bubbles have brains that can read her like we read one another.

“I can’t be out here when I’m sad,” she said. “The bubbles are my employees and if I come to the office not wanting to work, they don’t want to work either. Sometimes, the bubbles are the boss … No, no, the bubbles are always the boss.”

Victoria is The Bubble Lady, known throughout DTLB by locals and visitors alike as someone who brings joy out of the simplest of things while also turning it into an art form. Victoria’s creations—images in and of themselves—create new images of Shoreline Village and the Pike, as bubbles float into an environment where they were never intended to be.

The Peruvian native has created a ritual for her art—a ritual that is as spiritual as it is simple: When the morning comes, and she decides to invade Shoreline Village with her elastic, shapeshifting creations,   Victoria first creates her liquid formula. Soap, water, and love are combined as she creates test bubbles in her backyard before packing up, checking the weather, and heading to DTLB.

Upon arrival on the shore, she prays.

“I ask God to put me in a good mood because my mood affects everything,” she said, shortly before crossing her facade in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

After that, she leaves it to the power she respects—that of God and the bubbles. Wind affects everything: too much and she is unable to create even little bubbles let alone the biggies she obsesses over; too little wind and the same lack of bubbles deflates moods and hopes.

But should the wind—and of course, the bubbles—be of choice standards, wondrous creations flow out of Victoria’s contraptions.

“The big ones are the best,” she said, “but today, the wind… It doesn’t like us at the moment but I remember every big bubble because it was mine. I created it. And you can never forget your creations.”

Neither do her onlookers: Children and adults alike stop and stand, almost catatonically, staring in wonder at the ephemeral bubbles passing by. Adults become so enraptured, they pay Victoria in dollars while children, if they haven’t spent their precious quarters, drop whatever change they have to honor the magic of bubbles. Weekdays, she can score upward of $50 and on busy weekends? Hundreds of dollars.

“I don’t do it for the money,” Victoria said. “That’s an extra benefit but I don’t do it for the money; I do it to make myself happy, to make people happy.”

Make no mistake, Long Beach: The Bubble Lady doesn’t just make us happy—she outright understands life better than we could have imagined.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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