SA’s Oldest Teenagers: a Romantic Visitation of Patio Andaluz 

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Her hair is teased tall and coiffed into a hive. His shoes shine and his carnation smells sweet as she rests her rouged cheek upon his shoulder. The band plays smooth and crisp, like a gentle breeze blown upon a breath of spring. The young couple sways in time, arms aching to hold more than just the palpitating bodies confined within the satin of her blouse, the polyester of his coat. The band ambles to a stop and thanks the crowd, taking their bows. The youthful couple moves their aching lips toward each other, eyes closing as they embrace for the sweet release.

The place to be in San Antonio on a Friday night from the late '50s to the mid-'70s was Patio Andaluz, ground zero for the city's baby boomers and their perpetuation of the lustful world of rock 'n' roll and teenaged sin, bobby socks and broken hearts. Any number of happenin' bands — Sunny and the Sunglows, the Royal Jesters, Charlie and the Jives, Rudy and The Reno Bops, The Dreamliners, Sonny Ace or Little Henry & the Laveers — were unknowingly becoming the soundtrack fo SA's youth, their warm nights spent sailing across the dance floor, and the rest of their lives. The ensembles that played the now-famous locale built their own brand of music in the process, forever after referred to as the "West Side Sound."

"For us, now that we look back on it, it was like our Apollo Theater," says Sunny Ozuna, frontman for the Sunliners and later the Sunglows. "Out of [Patio Andaluz] came not only our childhood for all the baby boomer generation here in town and San Antonio's oldest teenagers, but we kinda developed ... our own little sound for San Antonio."

In true DIY fashion — long before it was a kitschy catchphrase or a portent political philosophy — San Antonio's teenagers were cobbling together the tune of their tears, the sounds of a sigh reverberating through an emptying school gym, the mixtape to a young generation turning past the foreword in the weathered pages of the Book of Love: the music of San Antonio and its children.

The teenage lovers open their eyes. It's 50 years later and they are once again back within the broad expanse of a hall full of dreamy music and starry-eyed lovers, those old feelings dancing across the room upon a song. The musicians are older, aged with the inevitable passing of time, but the music is still just as powerful as before. The couple closes their eyes once more ...

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March 25, 2020


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