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The fight for creativity

Ena Capucion/The Rider
Ena Capucion/The Rider

Ena Capucion
NEWS EDITOR

Downtown McAllen is the home to good times and good music. With the music ordinance in effect, some venue owners plan to attend today’s city commission meeting in hopes of a compromise.

In August 2015, four people came together and decided to create Yerberia Cultura, a venue at 613 S. 17th St. that offers a variety of outdoor music including rock ’n’ roll, punk and indie.

One owner, Patrick Garcia, has been an event coordinator and promoter for nearly 10 years and is in charge of showcasing artists.

“We wanted this space to sort of capture a hybrid of different cultures and genres,” Garcia said. “We didn’t want to become labeled as a particular sound of the venue; there’s definitely a niche that we kind of stick with. We wanted to make it a point to work within the alternative–like underground stuff.”

Another owner, Eric Guerra, found other investors willing to help open up Yerberia Cultura. Guerra agreed on the condition that Garcia join him as a business partner.

“It’s amazing [and] a dream come true,” Garcia said. “I could tell you that I’m one of the most passionate people … so having a venue refers to that dedication. It feels really good to validate it in that sense. It doesn’t feel like work, I can tell you that much. A lot of people come into the scene … lose money and quit. For me, it’s a labor of love … whether it makes money or not. I’m also juggling a full-time job and it still doesn’t feel like work. Some people tell me that I have two jobs, but I say, ‘No, I have a job and I have a passion.’”

THE MUSIC BAN

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling signed off on several downtown-related ordinances pertaining to outdoor music and a 21-year-old age limit, Garcia said. This will affect nearly all of the venues and bars in downtown McAllen such as Mezzanine, The Flying Walrus, My Bar, Roof 324 and Frida.

The city will host a workshop today to discuss the concerns of the community and how to address the issue. Garcia hopes to take on similar ordinances from cities such as Austin and New York City that impose a curfew.

“Right now, the ban is in place, but it’s not being enforced,” Garcia said. “So, a lot of people think our show on June 11 is going to be the last show ever, but it’s not. We meet June 13 with the city to work out a compromise–what the compromise is depends on how much strength we can have in numbers. We respect the community and people that live close by the venue tremendously, so we are proposing to take on similar ordinances that other cities have taken on. We’re going to fight for that.”

Another ordinance that is not being enforced is the age limit. Several other venues downtown allow all ages and have been hosting family oriented shows for the last five to six years.

“We really disagree with that because we think that’s going to directly cripple accessibility that young people have to creative outlets like music,” Garcia said. “We’re totally opposed to that and … a lot of people that are for the 21-age limit is that people are getting drunk and getting into car accidents, but there really is no proof that suggests that that’s coming out of downtown. And even if that is coming from downtown, then there’s nothing to suggest that certain venues aren’t taking precautions already. I’ve been [promoting] shows all my life. We’re not going to stop. We’re going to figure it out.”

Today’s city commission meeting will take place at 4 p.m. at City Hall.

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