Last weekend, I happened upon an old favorite Seattle happening..
The Punk Rock Flea Market.
The Punk Rock Flea Market is like a regular flea market, but with a small gathering of community sellers, mostly driven by a fondness for loud, non-pop rock music, often containing rebellious overtones. This happening is currently held twice a year, and offers a unique experience for those who enjoy second-hand findings and DIY creations. The entrance fee was a mere dollar and goes to assist in low-income housing for those in need.
I was excited for this community sale. I love thrift stores and flea markets where off findings can have its own interesting stories. Also, I love buying cheap, old things. I can’t resist, especially if some style is involved in the setting.
How does one outsider define this particular punk rock community without being too actively being engaged? I am somewhat familiar with the punk lifestyle, through a long association with good friends of many years and far away in Southern California (I miss them). So without coming off as some kind of poseur, I will leave much behind with some gained knowledge intact, and dive in.
How does this Punk Rock Flea Market differ from a regular flea market?
I think it’s the self-starting independent vibe and community foundation that carries on the punk lifestyle. Also we have visuals, with colorful urban art on the walls, probably from something else unrelated (not very punk stereotype, but I think contributes to the creative vibe of punk culture). On the tables, we have handmade art, home cooked food, nostalgia tributes including Ghostbusters II trading card waxpacks, horror movie posters, buttons/shirts rooting back to the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Misfits and other icons of punk history. Sadly lacking but worthwhile in finding, were the limited presence of music records, VHS tapes, well-read literature. To sift through everything in finding special treasure, has its own excitement.
More importantly, all attendees are welcome and felt welcome. People of all kinds, ages, styles were seen, greeted with smiles and kindness from the tattooed, pierced punkish propagators. The sellers were pretty much all friendly, welcoming people who appear engaged in the punk lifestyle with their colorful hair, ripped stockings, button covered leather. The place was small, with a small outstretch to a back parking lot. Many were sitting, chatting, drinking…having fun.
Meanwhile, I engaged in short silly conversations with some sellers and attendees, relating to stuff for sale and sold; mostly of personal interest involving classic horror and obscure literature, and classic magazines. I peeked through with awe at a stack of old Judge Dredd comics on flimsy, torn newsprint from the UK. The lengthier of conversations happened with a present street artist concerning the recent Black Sabbath reunion, and the emergence of sci-fi icons in DIY pop-art. I enjoyed these common grounds with strangers, where we geeks of special sorts can sniff each other out.
For me, I purchased a paperback on African theater plays of the 70s, and a tasty brownie from a small child present. Next Punk Rock Flea Market, I will carry more cash. But more important, there was a kind of moral to this tale of flea marketing and punks. That, in venturing through odd territory, even for an hour, could reinvent the familiar and make life a little more fun.
More on the Seattle Punk Rock Flea Market, can be found here.