One fall day in Santa Fe, Zia Cross had just finished with her volunteer shift at the High Mayhem music festival and ran across the street to Alegria Liquor. Cross found herself chatting with George Rivera, the shop's owner. She pressed him about what he was doing with the beautiful club space, empty for three years, that’s attached to his store. Nothing, she remembers him saying. You do something.
The Paramount had just shut its doors, and Santa Fe was coming up short in terms of nightlife. She thought about it day and night. "I realized there was absolutely no way we could do it, but it was a nice fantasy," she says. But for the next month, dreams of a club needled her.
There's no harm in asking, she told herself. "I just stopped by there one afternoon and said, 'I don't have any money. I don't have a job, and I don't want to waste your time, but if you want to tell me what you're looking for ... ’”
A five-hour conversation later, Rivera told Cross he liked the way she thinks. He would lease the space and a liquor license to her.
Cross is a music lover. She went to school for sound engineering and her dad was a promoter. "[Music] was in my life, though I wasn't doing anything with it." Her enthusiasm for the club spurred her on. After immersing herself in free business resources, she opened Club Alegria in July. "I was in it for the right reasons," Cross says.
It would be a great tale of unexpected triumph if it had all worked out. Instead, this is the story of someone who gave something a shot, saw it flagging and opted to shut the thing down with one last huge show. "We didn't have enough people coming out to make the numbers work," she says. "Santa Fe's notoriously slow to catch on to things."
Now Cross and her business partner, Danielle Miranda, have a big business loan to pay off. Cross is jobless once again. And, ironically, Alegria's getting more press than ever before as Santa Fe laments the demise of yet another nightspot. Rivera says he's not going to attempt a club in his beautiful rooms ever again.
But somehow, some way, Cross booked hip-hop giant Public Enemy for a performance that will almost literally bring down the house. Public Enemy's touring bassist, Brian Hardgroove, moved to Santa Fe a handful of months ago. He approached Cross as a potential sponsor for his Saturday radio program at Indie 101.5 FM. "Why can't Public Enemy play here?" Cross joked at the time. Cross figured there was no way she had the cash to pay Public Enemy's fee. But, she thought once again, there's no harm in trying.
Her meager offer was immediately rejected, but Hardgroove kept in touch over the coming months. Finally, Alegria and the radio station worked another deal and presented it to Public Enemy. Sadly, the good news came just two days after she discovered Alegria would have to shut down. Cross asked Rivera to allow her one last shebang. "This is huge," she told him. "They really shouldn't even be playing here. We're going to get to have a really intimate Public Enemy concert.
"It makes me feel good to be able to go out with a splash like this."