Centro San Antonio will host its final Friyay Friday night in Peacock Alley, located in the heart of downtown. The free event is a mix of live music, local food vendors, shops, and small-scale socializing. 

This week, Friyay features Paul Perez, more commonly known as DJ Chacho, and guest DJ, JJ Lopez. Perez has been DJing in San Antonio since the late 90s and plays a wide range of genres from reggae and pop to punk or house. He said he was thrilled to receive an invitation from Centro to play at the Alley. 

“Just seeing the way clubs and nightlife have evolved musically has been very interesting,” he said. “Back in the day, we would have been begging people to DJ. We used to do it renegade style! Set up in this alley until they throw us out of there. But now it’s like the city wants us to come to do our thing — they are coming to us for it!”

Putting artists and performers back to work in paid gigs has been one of the main objectives of Friyay, said Elizabeth Burt, director of Urban Activation at Centro. COVID-19 gathering restrictions have meant many artists have been out of work for almost two years. As vaccination rates in San Antonio inch up, small-scale music events like Friyay are a step to “normalcy,” Burt said.

Peacock Alley is located at 110 Broadway, running parallel to Travis and Houston streets. The 14-foot wide alley creates a uniquely intimate, yet still urban environment.

Peacock Alley is privately owned, but has been temporarily managed by Centro San Antonio, thanks to an agreement with the property owner, Zurich International, and a $4,500 grant from the San Antonio Board of Realtors, which allowed Centro to “activate” the alley. As part of that effort, the nonprofit invited artist Scotch! to paint a colorful mural and set up lounge chairs and tables along the alley wall. 

After Aug. 1, Centro will take a semi-permanent role overseeing the alley and activities there. The nonprofit manages the downtown Public Improvement District.

“If someone else wants to animate the alley, Centro would be that first check-in to make sure they are permitting, and also to help amplify, if needed,” said Burt. “Ultimately, the end goal is to really recommend potential permanent closure, whether it is through programming seasonally, that Peacock Alley becomes this communal outdoor venue that benefits all of San Antonio.”

In fact, Slab Cinema, which has partnered with Centro to show movies outdoor at Peacock Alley and other downtown locations, will screen the iconic Prince film Purple Rain at the alley at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 24.

Since May 31, when Friyay first started, the event has featured numerous local artists like Alyson Alonzo, DJs Steven Lee Moya, Donnie Dee, Despienada, and more. 

From the alley, visitors can see many San Antonio landmarks. To the west is the reflective Frost Tower and nine-story Kress building. To the east, the historic Hipolito F. Garcia federal courthouse rises in the background. The new 50-foot wide mural The Last Parade by Rudy Herrera is also visible from the alley.

Friyay’s final celebration will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. Admission is free with a few food vendors and hand sanitizing stations on site. Face masks are optional. 

Polina Protozanova

Polina is a Shiner Editorial Intern for the San Antonio Report.