Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in Digital Issue V.
Meet Zia Garza, the woman behind every SXSW show, massive dance party and local showcase at Pearl Street Co-op. As the social coordinator for Pearl Street, the large West Campus cooperative house known for its patio, pool and parties, Garza spoon-feeds good music to the UT student crowd by bringing it to their own backyard. Garza, a sociology junior at UT, coordinates about four parties a month, some of which are closed to Pearl residents only and others reaching up to 400 attendees. She also helps plan the co-op-hosted West Campus Block Party, now in it’s second year. Her Pearl Street SXSW shows have included California label Burger Records and performances by the likes of Hinds, the Parrots and Methyl Ethel.
By Rachel Rascoe
What are the necessary ingredients to a successful co-op party?
Cool decorations, minimal fights or breakage and a good lineup. I like spending a lot of time researching bands and making sure I like them and that they’d do well here. A bunch of bands will contact me with ideas for a show that I just know won’t work out. So the shows that I do throw, I usually have a good feeling about them.
How do your events reflect your personality?
I'm interested in pursuing a career in the music industry, so I'm more interested in throwing shows than EDM dance parties — but I do try to have a good balance of everything for Pearl residents. Booking shows here can be a tricky thing because there’s a lot of people that I have to please.
Do you have any memorable experiences with bigger bands staying at Pearl?
One of the girls from Hinds used my shower and I took shots with them. Another time, after the Merdurhaus Records show last year, the party was way over and I went downstairs to get water and Pierce and Joe (from Walter TV) were playing the piano and singing in the TV room. Alex G stayed here for the whole week of SXSW last year. They would go play shows and come back to play pool.
Who are some of your favorite local bands you’ve had at Pearl?
Summer Salt, CAPYAC, Rotten Mangos, Total Unicorn
How do you think the co-ops influence the UT party scene?
Co-ops give the scene balance from the fratty, sorority parties that are less fun. I think [co-op parties] are important to a lot of people who like partying in big spaces, but only have their little apartments.
What do you wish people knew before coming to a co-op party?
We allow a bunch of strangers to come party at our house, and then we clean up after them. People actually live at these co-ops, so don't be the asshole that makes us hate having open parties.
What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened at one of your parties?
In the public bathroom, there used to be a wall up to the ceiling. During one show, someone just knocked it all down and all these cinderblocks were on the floor. Stuff like that, and tagging and getting into fights.
What do you hope for people to get out of parties at Pearl Street?
The people who live here get to experience this really great place all the time and do whatever we want all the time, but not everyone gets that college experience. Throwing parties and allowing random people to come gives them that little taste of Pearl. Pearl has had this huge affect on me as a person. I guess I want everyone to feel that.