When you think of what your perfect day is like, what does it include? Good food? Quality time with friends? This is something we asked Brandon Ayala, an El Paso native that has been in Dallas for over 20 years. Through the last two decades, Ayala has played a tremendous part in creating a platform for local artists, photographers, designers and the like to express themselves. From Epocha – his former Deep Ellum shoe store/vintage shop/art gallery – to his reoccurring event, Debbie Does Disco, Ayala brings a creative flair to the Big D. Here's a look at Brandon's perfect day in Dallas!
Morning: "I've become a total morning person," Ayala said. "Even on the weekends I'm up by 7 a.m. You can find me at Metro Diner in Oak Cliff. It's one of those old-fashioned diners where you get bacon, eggs and pancakes. You can't go wrong with that. And of course, your coffee. I also do a lot of walking; it's like meditation for me. I like walking the Zang bridge from Oak Cliff into Downtown."
Lunch: "Lunch would be spent with my son," Ayala said. "I have a four-year-old, Liam, he's my world. I would probably be taking him to Peter Piper Pizza in Oak Cliff, which is very nostalgic for me. When I turned seven I had my birthday party there. I remember the pizza, the games, and trying to win all these tickets for a cheesy plastic toy – but it meant everything. I see that now with Liam, too. It's fun. He really enjoys it."
Evening: "For the evening, it'd be dinner at Tacos La Banqueta," Ayala said. "Also record stores. I try to stay away because I know that if I'm there, I'll be there all day. We're lucky here in Dallas to have Josey Records. If you haven't been there it's a huge selection of vinyl, very organized. You can catch me there sifting through records."
Like many others, the pandemic has shifted Ayala's day-to-day, including his business. When COVID hit, not only did it put a halt to Debbie Does Disco, it also shutdown Tradewinds, the Oak Cliff venue that housed the disco event. Despite the shutdown, Ayala is finding ways to keep the vibe alive, from staying current on social media to livestreaming a disco for the one-year anniversary. "Normally we would have ended up having a warehouse party, and we could have easily fit 400 people in there – it would have been a blast. But unfortunately, due to COVID, we weren't able to do that."
Ayala is also using music to help others cope with the mental stressors brought on by this historic moment in time. "I've been doing a monthly mix on Mixcloud," Ayala said. "It's a series we're calling Debbie Loves You. With everything going on right now – COVID and the political environment – I think the most important thing we need to do is love, to balance out all the other weird energy that's going on. Debbie Loves You is giving me a chance to share a lot of the records that carry a good message and people need to hear."
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Header photo credit: Karlo Ramos