In the late '80s, San Antonio's best store for underground dance vinyl was Eclipse Records. The store manager, Randy Haecker (who hosted a radio show on KSYM 90.1), was primarily spinning indie tracks, and some of the earliest dance and house tracks to hit the airwaves. Young fan and aspiring underground aficionado Joe Alfaro tuned into Haecker's show to hear the latest tracks, visiting local underground clubs like the now-defunct Changez and Phases for more of the dance vibe. Following a 1989 trip to well-known New York City clubs — the Tunnel and the Palladium — Alfaro returned to San Antonio with a penchant for house music and frequented Eclipse for the latest records in bulk. The owner of the store eventually offered Alfaro a job.
Working at the local record store gave Alfaro access to the many styles of house music, with which he took to making myriad mix tapes — honing his skills until his mixing was flawless. A weakening underground music scene was revitalized in late 1992, as rave productions gave hope to a dying culture of club music in the city. When the local Orbit Productions crew held its third rave event, Unity, at Changez, Alfaro made his debut performance outside the confines of Eclipse.
Throughout the following year and a half, Alfaro gigged at small events. His style was unlike any other DJ's in the city, refined by the early sounds of house music that he had experienced on his trip to New York. While many DJs were playing techno and rave-oriented tracks, Alfaro was spinning smooth, silky blends of beats filled with soul and emotion. In 1994, Alfaro was locally dubbed the "Godfather of House," and a legend was born.
In the history of house music, Frankie Knuckles is — hands down — widely respected as the "Godfather of House." But in the local history of the San Antonio house scene, Alfaro is the man. To encounter Alfaro behind the decks is to see the polished skills of one of the original founders of the San Antonio house scene. His selfless support here has inspired many local DJs, including Leonard Trujillo, or DJ Rise on KSYM's House Nation. (At the show's inception, Alfaro would co-host under the mystery moniker "DJ Patty Melt.")
When Eclipse closed in 1997, Alfaro opened his own record store — House of Wax, which has become a mainstay in the San Antonio vinyl revolution. Alfaro implemented the contacts he had established over the years, and developed a loyal following of local house heads. He also established two long-running residencies, DJing Wednesday and Thursday nights at the Saint (for the past four years), and Friday nights at the Other Side. "Many DJs in San Antonio don't get that opportunity," says Alfaro. "I think that being able to blend underground and mainstream tracks have helped make the nights outstanding."
"Joe is the one DJ who can bridge the gap between soulful music and circuit music to make them work in the same atmosphere," says Trujillo. "He's the Danny Tenaglia of San Antonio."
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