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Academic and Performing Arts Center Beam Signing

January 22nd, 2014

(left to right) District 40 State Representative Terry Canales, District 20 Representatvie Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Dahlia Guerra, District 41 Representative Bobby Guerra and UTPA President Robert Nelsen prepare to autograph a steel beam that will be permanently placed at UTPA’s new Academic and Performing Arts Center Oct. 13. The beam is available for signing on Jan 13. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 14 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All students and staff are encouraged to leave their autograph.

Beam signing marked 300x200 Academic and Performing Arts Center Beam Signing

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Folkloric dance-off

April 10th, 2013

The stage is set for the 2013 Adjudication Festival, where dance programs from schools across the Valley will bring the festival to life with their choreographies and compete for a chance to be recruited into the University’s dance program and its Ballet Folklorico. The event will be held at UTPA’s Health and Physical Education II building April 12 and 13.

The festival, first held in 2010, will give an opportunity to dance programs from private, middle and high schools to submit Ballet Folklorico choreographies before a panel of judges for a chance to win trophies.

Ballet Folklorico is a form of Mexican dance that derives from the country’s European, indigenous and African heritage.

“It serves two purposes. Number one, it’s a fundraiser for the Ballet Folklorico, and it also gives us a chance to spend a couple of days with all the local groups for recruitment purposes,” said administrative director Mary Munoz.

The event will also include a social for participants along with performances from the University’s Folklorico group. In the past, festivals were held at the Fine Arts Auditorium, allowing the attendance of the general public. The Fine Arts Auditorium has been demolished but a new Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex is set to be completed in October 2014. The size of this year’s new venue has limited the attendance to just participants and other people involved with the festival.

Participating schools can submit a solo, duet or ensemble routine and pay anywhere from $100 to $400 for the entry fee depending on which category. The event, hosted by Munoz and UTPA’s dance program, will serve as a recruitment vehicle contestants into UTPA’s major and minor dance program which includes specializations in Modern Ballet, Ballet Folklorico and Flamenco.

“The ballet folklorico is a high-level performing group, so we want to recruit dancers that already have some experience so that we can incorporate them in our ballet folklorico and we can keep going,” Munoz said. “We take time during the festival to talk to the seniors and let them know that the program is here and if they’re interested in coming we can help them with registration.”

According to Munoz, schools in the Valley began to take an interest in promoting dance prior to the emergence of UTPA’s dance program in 2002, but couldn’t find a certified dance professor in UTPA to continue teaching high school students at a higher level. While the University’s dance program is fairly new compared to other schools, Munoz explained, its Ballet Folklorico has been around for decades.

The University’s group began in 1970 when Amilda Thomas, chair of the Department of Kinesiology, organized it as an extracurricular activity.

“Students from all of the disciplines just got together after classes to rehearse,” Munoz recalled. “It wasn’t in a formal program at all, but the popularity of it grew, especially here in the Valley, for performances and then they started doing their own concerts.”

After Thomas’ retirement in 1986, Mary Munoz and Francisco Munoz came on board as directors.

The Adjudication Festival is open to schools from all over the country. For past events, the costs of travel have limited out-of-Valley attendees, with the exceptions being schools from San Marcos and Corpus Christi.

The dance routines will be adjudicated by Mexican judges Ariadna Garcia and Julio Cesar Prado who will award participants with first-, second- and third-place trophies. According to Munoz, the festival will continue to be organized if the encouragement is there.

“We’ll continue doing it as long as the high schools and the middle schools support us,” Munoz said.  “It’s good for them as well as it is for us.”

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A new company

March 15th, 2013

The members of newly minted Encantado Theatre have big dreams that involve a Broadway-in-the-Valley venue, six shows a year and workshops for local kids.
But that’s way down the line because for now, Encantado consists of seven people trying to raise about $9,000 for their first show in the summer, or September if they don’t get the money by then.

According to Isidro Lerma, the goal of Encantado is to tell great stories though theater in the Valley.

“We all have different areas of specialty,” the San Juan native said. “Mine is fantasy, another’s is realism, another, Shakespeare…We want to enchant every audience member so they leave thinking ‘Wow, what a great story.’ That they are so enchanted by the story, they won’t forget it.”

Lerma said that Encantado also wants to offer opportunities to actors in the Valley.

“There are some actors that are just used over and over,” said Lerma, who graduated from Corpus Christi University in 2010 before making his way back to the Valley. “There are some of us that want to teach, so we’re not just looking for actors to work with – we’re looking for actors to improve.”

Making sure to include several different actors in all productions is the reason for one of Encantado’s rules for the seven – no casting the same person twice in the same year, according to Mayra Ochoa, one of the founders.

“A lot of people always cast the same people in their shows and I have helped out on tech stuff and I see my friends say ‘I’m not good,’” said Ochoa, a senior theater major at UTPA. “But they are, and directors just get comfortable with certain actors, and that’s fine if that’s the way they work, but we really want to get a variety of people.”

Eventually, the members of Encantado hope to build a mega-venue in the Valley, with room for six plays at a time. The venue would serve not just Encantado, but possibly other companies in the Valley as well, like Thirteen O’ Clock or All Star Theatre. The idea came from two members who are studying architecture and business, respectfully.

“Like a mini-Broadway, so that people can go out at night and look at all the signs and say ‘OK which one do I want to see tonight?’” he added. “It might take 15 or 20 years to accomplish but it’s what we want to be able to do.”

For now, the new company will operate out of a venue in McAllen, opposite of Sprouts, that was offered to them for free as long as they also work with children to learn theater.

To raise the $9,000 for their tentative first show, the members of Encantado have planned fundraisers including a BBQ plate sale that nabbed them about $600 after costs earlier this month. Funding is the biggest hurdle to overcome right now, Lerma said.

“That’s part of being enchanted,” he said. “To believe that we can build a great company even though it’s quite difficult, especially with no funds.”

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‘Just sing your heart out’

February 19th, 2013

Out of 25 students, freshman Jocelyn Cazarez, an 18-year-old music major, was awarded $250 Feb. 14 as the first place winner of the Bronc Idol singing competition for Career Services Week.

Bronc Idol is a singing contest that has been taking place for two years. Different ages, different majors all unite for a single purpose: singing.

Carzarez, who described music as her life, said she plans on sharing her winnings with her accompanists, 18-year-old electrical engineering major Javier Macossay and Luis Perez, who is studying pre-med Biology.

“I felt very happy,” Cazarez said. “I wasn’t expecting to win since this is my first semester, but I just really wanted to be on stage and sing, that’s why I wanted to be in this competition and I’m glad I was.”

The main person behind this event is Career Services Director Lourdes Servantes.

“The idea actually originated three years ago while we were talking to ourselves and just brainstorming some ideas. American idol was at its peak so we decided, ‘Why not have our own Bronc Idol?’” Servantes said.

To qualify for the contest, students need audience engagement, entertainment value and to make sure they stay true to the song. Although the performance rules have not changed, the coordinators made adjustments to get the students more involved.

Last year, everyone who signed-up had a chance to participate. This year, of the 25 people that signed up and auditioned Feb. 7, seven to eight were selected.

“We are constantly trying to improve our events, which is why we like to take a lot of student feedback,” Servantes said. “This year, for example, the audience gets to have a voice, they can vote and have a fan favorite.”

Nerves were put to the test on audition day when it all came down to one song that would decide if the contestants were in or out.

“We feel confident while we are practicing, but being on stage is totally different you have that kind of adrenaline rush, but we feel like we will be selected as the seven lucky ones,” Cazarez said prior to her audition.

The students each commented on growing up with music as a part of them, and enjoy finding opportunities to showcase their talent.

“I’ve been singing since I was like in the 4th grade,” said 21-year-old business major Frank Sabo III. “Ever since then I would participate like in high school musicals. I really enjoy singing. Although other people were really good out there, I feel confident.”

English major Lauren Noyola was participating her second time in the contest and confessed she felt a little nervous during her audition, recognizing the talent of the other participants.

“I don’t know if I’ll make it this time. I participated last year but there wasn’t an audition,” Noyola said. “Everyone is amazing so that made me get a little nervous. I wish them the best of luck for sure they will make it.”

Most of the participants explained that they apply music in their daily activities and use it as a way of expressing themselves.

“Singing makes me happy and I just thought I would have a lot of fun participating here with my fellow peers,” said Zoe Wright, a junior communication disorders major. “I thought it would be an awesome experience and it was. I like to turn everything into a song. Even when I study I’ll turn some things into songs just to remember.”

Marketing senior Edward Ayala had an unexpected experience prior his tryout. The night before, Ayala felt sick and was running a fever, but his love for music motivated him to still go to the audition.

“It’s all about getting ourselves out there and it’s scary and the first time is always gonna be scary but if this is what you love to do, you have to have the courage to do it,” Ayala said. “I know people who have the talent but are just afraid to show it. It’s cool to see people that possess that strength, it takes a lot to be up there.”

The contestants waited until the end for each participant to finish their audition, wishing each other good luck, agreeing that their main goal had been to have fun doing something they love.

Servantes advised students to “do the very best” and explained that one of her goals is to help students branch out into the music field.

“Just sing your heart out,” Servantes said to the participants. “I would love to get more influenced people in the music industry…If you want to build traditions, you have to support them, and as long as we are here, Bronc Idol will exist.”

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Re-drafting the Drafthouse

January 24th, 2013

After hearing the news about the planned Cinemark Movie Bistro in Edinburg, freshman Imalay Cuellar’s eyes widened in excitement. As an avid moviegoer, she already began making plans to attend the Valley’s first dinner theater scheduled to open its doors this summer.

The Bistro will offer audiences the movie theater experience while providing the same services as a dine-in restaurant

“I think it’s perfect. I’ll get out of school and go over there. I’m a crazy person when it comes to movies,” the 18-year-old business major from Mission said. “I go like every Tuesday. So I’ll probably be going there because it’s…a good combination so I believe it’s going to bring more people.

Like Cuellar, fanatics of the big screen will finally be able to experience a dine-in theater in the area without traveling to the nearest location in San Antonio.

Edinburg’s Alamo Drafthouse Theater on the corner of Trenton and Jackson was left unfinished in 2007 after the then-owner went bankrupt. Six years later, Cinemark Holdings Inc. and new owner B-Y Properties has decided to bring the sandy colored building back to life in the form of a Cinemark Bistro.

As in a traditional movie theater, audience members sit in rows of seats that fill the auditorium. In a dinner theater, a long table is installed in front of each row. Patrons will press a button, signaling a waiter that they would like to place an order from either the expanded menu that includes burgers, pizza, fresh wraps or common theater eats like popcorn and sweets. The menu will also include crafted beers, premium wines and margaritas, along with non-alcoholic drinks.

B-Y Properties purchased the long-dormant property in November 2010 and from then on attempted to find someone to lease the space, until the deal with Cinemark was made and announced Jan. 11. Cinemark, whose headquarters are stationed in Plano, TX, currently has seven Valley theaters. However, the dine-in theater-style  is among the first for the motion picture exhibiting company. An El Paso location is also in the making for Cinemark. Both theaters are projected to open this summer.

“This is a new concept for Cinemark,” said Johnny Cisneros, the Trenton and Crossroads Plaza broker. “They really have not done dinner theater before so I think that this is an opportunity to design something that can satisfy the desires of quite a few people.”

The Edinburg theater will have six auditoriums with a maximum occupancy of about 800 people and a parking capacity of more than 900 vehicles, according to the broker.
Communication major Brenda Marquez has attended a dine-in style theater in San Antonio and believes that the Bistro will be a positive addition to the Valley scene when it is scheduled to open this summer.

“(It’s) a really neat experience. I was more comfortable,” 20-year-old Marquez recalled. “I think it will be a new source of entertainment for people who are looking for something different and for those who are coming in to visit.”

With new businesses comes more employment. Cisneros also explained the theater will bring 80 jobs to the area that will be filled over time. As of now, no businesses are set to occupy the space inside the building, but he is confident that with the Cinemark project up and running, more businesses will seek to be tenants.

“We’re trying to lease out the rest of the plaza to other entertainment and, or food prospects. That’s the goal here,” Cisneros said. “I’ve got 70,000 square feet left to lease up, and hopefully we can bring in some concepts that will be complementary to Cinemark.”

Freshman Dayra Garza looks forward to a night out with her friends at the new Movie Bistro. Tired of the same routine of convening at a traditional theater, Garza is excited to see what the dinner theater has to offer.

“I think it’s awesome. It’s a chance for the youth to actually do something different,” the 18-year-old dietetics major said. “We can hang out and go to a movie and don’t have to leave right away. We’ll have a chance to relax and get something to eat and enjoy ourselves.”

At the heart of the theater will be a kitchen with corridors leading to each of the theaters. Cisneros explained that current layout of the building is subject to change, however the architectural plans have not been released yet.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how the Valley takes it,” said Edinburg Economic Development Center Project Manager Leticia Reyes. “It’s a new entertainment option for the residents. I know we have the Carmike, but this is just a different option and not just for Edinburg, but for the whole Valley.”

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Library hosts exhibit on Iraqi women

September 20th, 2012

The University is featuring an exhibit from Sept. 10 to Sept. 28 in the Library’s first floor art gallery to represent Iraqi women. The “Iraqi Women of Three Generations: Challenges, Education, and Hopes for Peace” is a 23-panel exhibit with pictures and detailed stories about the female perspective in the Middle East.

“U.S. media has been full of negative stereotypes of Iraq, so a lot of people have grown up not knowing these people,” said Martha Ann Kirk, one of the exhibit presenters. “How do we move beyond these stereotypes? How do we try to understand each other as human beings?”

The Gülen Institute at the University of Houston provided grants to Kirk and the other exhibit presenter Patricia Madigan, to help reach out to other women around the world. Both have visited the Middle East during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the Iraqi War in 2003. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at least 943 women were murdered due to “honor killings,” and 93 of these women were minors in Iraq.

In their visits to the region in the summers of 2010 and 2012, Kirk and Madigan  were inspired by the attitude of the women there and collected stories and pictures from Iraq by interviewing students and teachers from schools, parents and Ministry of Education officials.

“The young women were very impressive with their desire to overcome all the disruption in their lives, the obstacles which they and their families had encountered and how they developed themselves for the good of their families and their society,” said Madigan, director of the Dominican Centre for Interfaith Ministry, Education and Research in Sydney, Australia.

The Gülen Institute’s goal is to promote positive social change. It is influenced largely by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish writer and pro-democracy advocate who started the Gülen movement, a group that has become an international presence.

“It makes a big difference when someone from the Middle East is educated, they believe in basic things like human rights,” said senior biology major Antony Sebastian, who moved from South India to Texas nine years ago. “That is foreign to someone who is uneducated, [they] think of the world in construed extremities.”

Wandering through the exhibition, one student found out about the “honor killings” of women, which occurs when a woman is given as a sacrifice to respect the death of another; it usually happens when a group or family member has brought dishonor to another by murdering someone.

“The exhibit brings a whole new point of view to this culture…over here we have guaranteed education,” said freshman Silas Nieto, who looked at the exhibit. “The story that touched me was the one about the woman who was given as a sacrifice due to a murder.”

Kirk arrived Sept. 10 to speak to a woman’s literacy class taught by Caroline Miles. Professor Stanley Gonzalez also took his class to the library to view the exhibit.

“The exhibit reminds me that women all want the same thing,” said sophomore English major Jannesa Campbell. “They want the best for their families, and they want them to be safe and grow.”

Miles, who specializes in women’s literature and gender studies, also found the displays informative.

“The exhibit was a powerful representation of the women from the Middle East and tells a narrative against the usual stereotype U.S. media tend to portray,” she said.

The project was previously displayed in Austin at St. Edwards University last year and will be going to the Silkroad Festival in Houston Oct. 5-6 once it leaves UTPA.

“I hope that the pictures and stories help students here get to know students there as human beings very similar to us,” said Kirk, a professor of religious studies at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. “Through this exhibit, may we understand more of the peace building work done by Muslims and show women’s resilience and courage.”

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Preparing for the workplace with fashionable flare

September 19th, 2012

Photo by Belen Diaz

As part of Career Week, the University’s Office of Career Services held it’s Career Style Fashion Show in the UTPA Ballroom, Sept. 18. Students were nominated by their peers at Bucky’s Block Party and Student Involvement Fair to walk the runway. The models demonstrated the appropriate attire and presentation for first impressions when going to a job interview.

Audience members sat at round tables, relishing the complementary snacks, studying the models as they came down the runway one-by-one sporting the suits and business attire lent out for the show by La Plaza Mall’s JC Penny and Dillard’s.

“We do this every semester in the fall and spring and we had a good turnout this time,” Career Services Advisor Ronnie Garcia said. “I think it was a positive experience because students love to be involved. It was a positive environment. Every style show is always unique.”

Post fashion show, a panel answered students’ questions about the proper presentation for the workplace. The panel was made up of Action 4 News anchor and Style Show host Ryan Wolf, Bert Ogden Corporate Strategist Natasha del Barrio, Bert Ogden Marketing Director Marsha Green and Human Resources Associate for BBVA Compass Crystal Flores.

“When in doubt, leave it out,” Wolf said to the audience regarding choosing an outfit. “If you even question it whatsoever for a second, then chances are you are not the only one that’s going to question it.”

Career Week kicked off Monday with a Resume Clinic where students could go to Career Services, located on the second floor of the Student Services Building. Their resumes could be looked over by the Career Services staff and organized in a well presented manner.

Mock Interview Days will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. Students can practice their interview skills for the Career Fair, Sept. 28. Interviews of 30 minutes will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. In order to participate, students must sign up to the Bronc Career Connection.

The Resume Clinic will take place again at the same location Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.

“Don’t take it for granted that your talent, your exuberance, your personality is the end all be all,” Green said. “Put the whole package together: the look, the attitude and the smile.”


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Artist Twin Shadow to perform at Cine El Rey

September 15th, 2012

Light drum beats and synthesized keyboard sounds will penetrate the walls of the McAllen Cine El Rey Theatre, for the first-time Valley performance of pop artist Twin Shadow. Singer and songwriter George Lewis, Jr., who goes by the nom de plume Twin Shadow, is set to take the stage from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Twin Shadow’s Ton Up tour began July 27, hitting places all over Canada and the U.S., and now Lewis along with his performing band are finally making their way to South Texas.

“We like playing places that we’ve never played before. I think it’s important to get to places where people don’t have access to good music and try to play for them,” Lewis said. “We just try to put on an energetic show. (We) try to take people away from their lives a little bit.”

Local talent buying company Tiger’s Blood is behind the show’s booking. Tiger’s Blood was created in 2010 by McAllen native Patrick Garcia, who is also the man behind the personality Galax Z Bear. The Bear was a false persona created by Garcia when he first began promoting shows. He wanted to see if audiences would still support a show if they didn’t know who the promoter was.

“Eventually people found out right away that it was me,” Garcia said. “But I feel like I kind of did prove that there are some people who will attend a show regardless of who the promoter is just to go check out a band.”

Garcia explained that Twin Shadow played a part in his wanting to promote artists and their music. He admitted he booked the band for “totally selfish reasons.”

“His first record came out and impacted me pretty hard,” the 27 year old said. “That was right around the time in November of 2010 when I decided I was going to start focusing on promoting a little more and promoting specifically touring sort of slightly underground, but still on the cuff of becoming wildly popular artists. I had just made it a point to try and get this guy down.”

Described by Garcia as a having a “psychedelic” sound, he explained that the artist is still in somewhat of an unknown stage.

“Twin shadow is a relatively young artist. He writes a lot of very well structured, intelligent music and songs that kind of embrace this sort of lothario, 80s aesthetic,” Garcia explained. “He’s evolving and I’ve seen him evolve career-wise and artistry-wise.”

Garcia mentioned that there was a booking problem with the tour schedule and the artist almost didn’t make it down to the Rio Grande Valley. Twin Shadow is set to perform in Alabama the day after his McAllen performance and will have to make a 17 hour drive in a van in order to play both shows. When the artist found out that the agency was looking to cancel the McAllen show to try and save time, he insisted the schedule stay the same.

“I think that says a lot about Twin Shadow and how he has a driven appreciation for his fan base,” Garcia said.

Although the artist will have limited time with his Valley audience, Garcia believes they are in for rare treat.

“I feel like a lot of people who do go to my shows, go for the artist, but there’s a lot of people who are curious, who are used to going to shows that are maybe screamo shows or metal shows. So I feel like they’re going to get something different,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be an interesting show regardless, but I can promise you that it’s going to be a pretty strong live show.”

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The Rise of the Arcade Scene?

September 6th, 2012

In the past, coins jingled in the pockets of those anxiously waiting for their turn to play on the boxy game machine. Onlookers huddled around the player as he or she tapped the buttons and shifted the joystick in all directions, attempting to prevail against the computer-generated opponent.

Now, gamers no longer have to save their quarters for the arcade or blow into game cartridges to play video games. With advances in technology, people can now interact and play video games against someone who lives miles from them without having to leave their home. Because of this, however, the arcade scene, along with various game genres, has had to adapt and evolve.

“The arcade scene started at local arcades. Big tournaments were held in Harlingen,” said Julio ‘Hamm’  Hernandez, who has been a part of the gaming community since 1999. “Back then there were no consoles. You had to pay the arcade owners to use their equipment and pay to practice.”

With the arcade scene dying out due to the Internet and popularity of the home console, fighting games took the plunge with it. These games, such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, are part of a video game genre where a player controls their on-screen character to combat another player’s.

Hernandez explained that eventually the scene died in the Valley because of a fighting game production drought from 2006 until Street Fighter IV came out in 2009.

“People still participated in tournaments, but they eventually became bored playing the same game over and over again,” the Pharr native said.

When David Fishouse realized the scene was left “in shambles with no leader,” he decided to create video game event organizing company, Critical Hit Gaming, in 2010. Fishouse took it upon himself to bring back the fighting game community in the Valley.

“The fighting game scene had kind of fizzled out like in 2008, 2009. Whereas beforehand it was kind of like the place to go. You would call up all your friends and go meet at the arcade, but that just, well, died out,” explained Fishouse, a Pharr native. “They were tournaments that would happen on the regular, every year or so, and after we went a couple years without tournaments, I just felt it was time to step it up.”



Critical Hit teamed up with The Spark Plug Pool Hall and Venue to host an all ages Fight Night located at 224 East University Drive in Edinburg. Gamers get together when they can to test their fighting game skills against one another. The hosts try to make the event every Friday, but occasionally it’s every two or three weeks.

Buttons clicked, gamers combo’d their opponent and music played at The Spark Plug. Surrounded by their opponents, each participant was placed at one of five round tables. They sat, gazing intently at one of the eight 26-inch flat screens, fighting with their character to make it to the  42-inch screen for the final round of the event.

“We want to start getting the youth more involved in gaming by providing them with a place to come practice, and meet more people who share the same interests as them,” Spark Plug Owner Chris Rodriguez said. “The gamers will also have the opportunity to meet teams and even join one.”

With equipment for over 50 players provided by Critical Hit, gamers can get the feel of an arcade without a pocket full of quarters. Fight Night games include Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Mortal Kombat 9, King of Fighters XIII and Persona 4 Arena. The available consoles are PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the Super Nintendo. There is a $5 cover, BYOC (bring your own controller) and the gaming lasts from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“We’re supposed to be getting better at the game when we meet up,” Fishouse said. “At the moment it’s still like we’re having a great time, which is great because people get their money’s worth and they get to play their favorite games. But really the ultimate goal is to become recognized, on the map as being a fighting game area.”



As people gain the ability to play from the home console through multiplayer or live mode, arcades seem to be becoming obsolete.

“The arcade scene had its peak in the ‘80s with Pacman, Donkey Kong,” Fishouse said. “Probably the last peak that we had was back in like 1996, 1997, like around the Mortal Kombat age. From there it slowly died out.”

Besides dealing with the lack of game production, arcade operators have to deal with financial issues that also make it difficult for the scene to thrive.

“If you’re going to be an arcade operator, you have to pay for an operator’s license which is like $150, $180. Then you have to pay like $50 per machine that you own. Then have to earn back the money a quarter at a time,” Fishouse explained.

Even though it seems the arcade scene is no longer in its heyday, Critical Hit has tried to keep the brawl culture alive through Fight Nights, and game rooms for comic book and Japanese cartoon conventions like Omnicon.

Fishouse mentioned that people think conventions are the go-to place to get the best gaming experience, but they don’t always get their money’s worth. A convention pass costs about $35. Those who only want to participate in the game room have to wait for their name to be called, but still have to pay for the pass.

“That’s a huge issue and convention owners don’t seem to recognize that. What I want to promote and why I want to get recognized in the convention industry, I guess, is being able to promote dual pricing,” Fishouse said. “So, there will be like a game room only fee, where you can enter the tournaments that you want to enter at a reasonable price.”

Although the gaming community has switched to a more technologically advanced form of action, Fishouse explained that in his mind, there is no substitute for the genuine arcade experience.

“There is a big difference between playing online and playing in person. And once you play in person, it’s not difficult to go back,” he said.  “The quality of play is so much better, being able to communicate in person, and having that social aspect, you know that real arcade feel, people don’t even know what that is anymore. They don’t even know what
they’re missing.”


Categories: Arts & Life


DJs shake up South Padre

August 31st, 2012

This Labor Day weekend Sept. 1-3, Isla Del Sol Fest will hold its first Electronic Dance Music festival at South Padre Island, an event that will eventually form a one-two punch for entertainment at the Island.

The festival, brought to SPI by Disco Donnie Presents, Global Groove and Sugar Society will kick off at Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The show will bring pianist, DJ and music producer Armin Van Buuren, DJ Kaskade and music duo Dada Life to the Valley for the first time.

Global Groove and Sugar Society has put together the Ultimate Music Experience (UME) at SPI for Spring Break 2012 and showcased DJs such as Skrillex, Tiësto and Afrojack. The latest effort brings even more artists to the new event Isla Del Sol Fest. There is a plan for the future.

“We were looking to do two festivals per year, UME for Spring break and Isla Del Sol Fest for Labor Day weekend,” Global Groove promoter Frank Salinas said. “We had about 7,000 tickets and about 5,000 have already been sold.”

Tickets are being sold online and at Hermes Music in McAllen and Brownsville. Single day tickets are $50, two-day tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $90 and Monday VIP tickets go for $165. There is a VIP limit of 2,000 tickets at Claytons Resort, which offers a pool area and a chance to meet Dada Life.

Saturday’s beats lineup starts at 6 p.m. with Canadian DJ duo Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano followed by Van Buuren, who has been producing and DJing for nearly 15 years and has made his name a presence in electronic dance. He is currently No. 4 on The DJ List globally and his new CD, “Universal Religion Chapter Six,” is available for download.

Sunday’s groove begins at noon with Netherlands DJ team, Bingo Players and from Chicago, Ill. producer DJ Kaskade, winner of America’s Best DJ award in 2011. Chicago’s progressive house DJ Kevin Focus will kick open the doors to the VIP show on Monday with Swedish electro-house duo Dada Life to finish the three-day festival.

“Dada Life is the biggest newcomer to electronic dance artists, everyone plays him. Whether it’s vocals or just beats, other DJs love their music,” Salinas said. “Armin Van Buuren has won the Top 100 DJs award four times in a row, and Kaskade recently sold out the Staples Center July 27.”

Some DJs fit into sub-categories of electro music, and have a reputation of their own. Two of the most well-known electronic genres are dubstep and trance.

“Dubstep is easy to identify — listen to Skrillex, Nero and Kill The Noise. Dubstep is heavy with the bass, and has a ‘wub wub wub’ sound,” said electronic dance music fanatic Jaime Cortina who has attended about 20 EDM concerts in the past 3 years. “People will describe [dubstep] as robots doing stuff, trance is mostly with synths. DJs Armin Van Buuren, older Tiesto and Above and Beyond are all trance.”

Synth is short for synthesizer, which is an electronic soundwave that many DJ artists use to produce their music.
There have been many big names visiting the Valley in the last 18 months, such as DJs Zedd, Porter Robinson and Steve Aoki, who played the Pharr Events Center Aug. 19. (Story here)

Rave by Ruben Gutierrez 300x179 DJs shake up South Padre

“I like how electronic music exploded in the Valley, it doesn’t go away,” said McAllen resident and UTPA student Rene Ballesteros, who has attended previous events. “Armin Van Buuren is ‘trancey’ and ‘chiller,’ not hardcore like dubstep. It’s very soulful, he has good vocals, good mixes. It’s music that’s happy and brotherly. It’s PLUR [Peace, Love, Unity, Respect].”

The EDM community is known for its late nights and loud sound, but for those who participate in the events, it is all about the experience.

“We try to promote a positive attitude and a positive atmosphere… we provide the best events that we can in the Valley,” Salinas said. “For us it’s about spreading the experience and the joy it gives to people. Whatever your style, there is a love there, and that’s all we are trying to do–spread the love.”

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