There it was, an ad for the Rock N’ Roll Flea Market as I scrolled down my Facebook feed looking for interesting posts.
The ad stated that it’s open the first Sunday of every month, entry was free and, to sweeten the draw, they offer $14 bottomless mimosas! That part definitely sparked my interest and drew me in as most places want $10 for one mimosa. I was in for the next one, and I kept asking myself how did I miss this one for so long?
Once inside the Flea Market, which is located in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, the rock n’ roll fantasy ride of oohs and ahhhhhs began and left me totally agog at all of the cool merch to be found there. Vintage clothing, lots of stalls selling vintage vinyl, leatherwork, jewelry made of animal bones and lots of skulls to name just a few of the amazing merchandise curated at this place. And to top it off, sipping mimosas that are made with Gancia Prosecco and fresh orange juice while you browse the two-story venue packed with cool stuff made it seem like a party. It is a bit overwhelming and requires at least a second visit to take it all in. Even then not all of the same vendors will be there on the second visit.
Once it hit me that I was in Skid Row I was forced to ask myself a glaring question…is this a part of the “gentrification" of Skid Row? Please don’t get me started!
The venue that hosts the Rock N’ Roll Flea Market is The Regent Theater and has been home to everything from Vaudeville to an adult theater. It currently is hosting live music and is promoted by Spaceland Productions. This venue also offers up two side ventures; The Love Song and Prufrock Pizzeria which are names from a classic T.S. Eliot poem. At Prufrocks one can order a brunch to eat and then saunter over to The Love Song for a drink and play "Boozy Brunch Bingo" for tickets to Spaceland shows at their venues; Echoplex, Echo and The Regent.
For those of you that care, The Regent holds approximately 1,100 people and has a phenomenal PA system that rivals any other large “club” venue such as The Wiltern Theater or The Belasco Theater. "There is no place to rest your foot upon across the bottom of the bar because they don’t want you clogging up space while a concert is going strong," offers the bartender that day, Gabe DeCastro. Castro answered many of my questions and then referred me to the man behind the scenes, Mike Andrews.
While rock n’ roll devotees saunter through the aisles and up the stairs to another level of interesting merch, there are rotating DJs playing cool music that ranges from the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” to Metallica's “Enter Sandman.” There is even a full-sized screen in the background of their stage playing rock videos such as David Bowie. You will never be bored while in this place, believe me.
According to Andrews, “Spaceland Productions came to us because they wanted to do something for the community and we came up with the Rock N’ Roll Flea Market. We’ve been doing this for three years now.” Andrews describes this type of Flea Market as “A party where people sell stuff and people can buy stuff. We do this for a kind of fun.” Again, I’m asking myself “How did I miss this until now?” Andrews adds that this event is always well attended and that vendors only have to pay $50.00 for a space to sell their wares to the “party” attendees. Coveted spaces are at the entry and the regulars have their favorite spaces. This event is open 11 am to 4 pm.
As you enter this Flea Market, a vinyl merchant City Mind Funk, that I know and follow on Instagram, has his “eclectic” art on sale. As you wind your way toward the stairs, vintage clothing stalls are on either side of you and a smattering of vinyl stalls are on either side of the theater. There is an amazing animal bone jewelry stall who told me their business is “Lovely Den Mama” and can be found on Etsy.
On my first visit there the amount of skulls and such was quite striking; there was even a vendor that sold hair combs with little skulls adorning the edges. The presence of skulls was not unsettling as I have done my share of Dia De Los Muertos art, including collaging skulls. One vendor said that a lot of people believe that having skulls around is representative of a long life while other vendors agree that as Dia De Los Muertos has gained popularity, so has the acceptance of skulls, skull art and jewelry. As for myself, I think that The Grateful Dead did a lot to usher in the acceptance of skull art adorned with flowers and such which was a part of Jerry Garcia's culture.
After taking in all of the lovely things to experience at the Rock N’ Roll Flea Market I decided to turn right outside of the theater and walk up a block to 118 Winston Street and go check on “Indian Alley” thatis next-door to “These Days,” a gallery featuring up and coming artists and that sells eclectic items, vintage and out of print books as well as photo books. They just wrapped up a show that featured The Smiths which proprietor Stephen “Cockroach” Zigler said was a very successful show. There is a new show opening on Saturday, November 11th at the venue and the reception will be from 7 pm to 10 pm. The show will feature the art of Calder Greenwood and is titled “Quest For Peril.” If you are lucky, the gate to “Indian Alley” will be open and you’ll be able to get a look at some wonderful Native American themed street art. I know this area well and have spent a lot of time photographing the area and all it has to offer.
It was from Zigler that I learned about the area’s past, which includes Skid Row author and poet Charles Bukowski, “Notes From A Dirty Old Man," and how 5th Street was also known as “The Nickel” to those that were frequent “guests” of the area. I had a great sit down with Zigler awhile back for a project I’ve been working on about street art and Indian Alley.
The next Rock N’ Roll Flea Market is slated for December 3, 2017 where you will be able to score lots of cool gifts for those hard to shop for Rockers in your loop. It is located at 448 S. Main Street between “The Nickel” and Winston Street.