Went to the “first annual” 626 Night Market in Pasadena this past weekend. It was… crazy.
Apparently this event was put together by a small group of three people. While I didn’t hear about it until last Wednesday, word spread quickly and by Saturday the place was absolutely packed beyond any organizer’s wildest dreams (or nightmares?). It was impossible to move. If they were hoping to bring Pasadena the experience of Beijing subway stations during rush hour, they achieved that. Night markets are bustling, but normally there is room to comfortably move around and food is easily procured. Here, it was a feat in itself that we got any food at all, and we promptly gave up after the first stall closest to the entrance.
But it didn’t mean that it was a failure. While there is plenty of room for improvement, and I would imagine 99% of the attendees would deem it a complete mess, it really showed potential to me. It is so interesting, because it really was just a street fair/food vendor fest. However, by marketing it as a “night market,” it brought the curiosity and nostalgia out of thousands of Asian Americans in Southern California. And I think it was a learning lesson in countless ways, from cultural relevancy to social media to logistical planning. I not only hope the organizers continue with their efforts, but that they turn it into a monthly event (where frequency hopefully dilutes the popularity, in a good way).
For a taste of a night market in Taipei, Taiwan, and one of my favorite online short videos, check this out:
[The Places We Should Have Gone, by WFP]