Students dance at the university’s first official festival, held in Sombrilla Plaza in 1977.

Groove On

A look at the party that was precursor to the modern-day Fiesta UTSA and Best Fest

[ This article was originally published in Sombrilla Magazine, Spring 2000 ]

It’s May 1977 and UTSA students are dancing in Sombrilla Plaza, perhaps to the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” which was number one on the charts that month, or to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” number five.

Spring is in the air, the average age of the student body is 28, and President Peter T. Flawn has approved the party—the first campuswide shindig in the school’s history. That is, unless you count the student-government–sponsored get-together in the Student Lounge a few months earlier. (Take today’s labs in the basement of the Science Building and replace the sophisticated equipment with a few pool tables, some vending machines, and a TV that works some of the time.)

Later, students will recognize the reincarnation of this party as Best Fest, which takes place every fall, and Fiesta UTSA, which kicks off Fiesta San Antonio each April. But they’ll have to wait until the early 1980s for that.

In 1977 students call it the Beer Bust, and sure enough, the kegs and wine, courtesy of UTSA’s cafeteria services, back up the name. The drinking age is still 18, and it’s not unusual for state schools to sanction such campus events, beer and all.