Thursday, October 22, 2009

South Melbourne Night Market

The St Kilda Beach night market has become a popular staple of a balmy Thursday night through-out late spring and summer. The smattering of stalls and hippies mesh well with the busy atmosphere of Acland St. It's a warm, beachy and fragrant with food and what I like to call the distinctive "pong" of St Kilda.

I think the South Melbourne Night Market is attempting to tap into the same late-night market crowd. Little stalls attach themselves to the edges of the closed South Melbourne Market. South Melbourne market itself is housed in an ominous red brick building and the night market stalls are like a community of squatters on it's fringes. Unlike the suburbs of Carlton and Fitzroy, where the culture and the hustle of the city tend to bleed into, South Melbourne is like an isolated inner suburban pocket. When I went the night was really still and the whole place had this calm, almost secluded atmosphere despite the proximity to the city.

Around the market, huge vats of paella bubbled away and a ten year old played Lou Reed songs on the guitar. There was plenty of those knicknacks, which seem to only appear at markets - badges, light bulbs in plants, fisherman pants, hippie scarfs and headbands. - All this stuff generally ranges from the kitsch to the mildly useless. But then again, markets are fantastic places for young artists to sell their stuff to the public.

The South Melbourne Night Market did have a couple of decent vintage clothes stores. Wild Monkey - a vintage store in a container shed on the Coventry St side - had a diverse and carefully put together collection of dresses, coats, chunky knit jumpers. There were plenty of those colourful crepe dresses, with horizontal pleats, bright patterns and strange below the hip-line waists. There were some good box hats and a range of vintage sunglasses with thick rims.

Just around the corner was a lovely open air vintage stall. Ankle boots with zips and buttons and old doc martens spilled from suitcases with coiled-up belts and coloured scarfs. The variety of tops and jackets were really impressive too. I loved this silver creation made from a delicate, web like fabric, it had these sequin embellishments around the shoulders and a gathered-in waist.

The market is smallish and comes abruptly to an end after a store selling Belgian waffles. The overall feel of the market is enhanced by nightfall under the glow of the little coloured lamps that hang from the ceiling. If you are into your analogies, you could compare the night market to a racehorse, not quite at it's stride but showing signs of early promise.

** I have to mention that across the road from the market, a couple of stores had stayed open. One of them was a lovely French vintage and homewares store called, Gigi a la maison. It was crowded with little French artifacts from the early 20th century. I adored this lamp (pictured above), it had a porcelain base shaped like Marie Antoinette. Beautiful colour and detail despite some minor chipping.

where can I find it? South Melbourne Market; 322 Coventry St South Melbourne
how do I get there? catch the no.96 tram to the South Melbourne light rail station
when is it open? 5.30pm-9.30pm every Thursday through-out the warmer months
i'm hungry? some of the regular stores stay open just for the markets, paella, waffles, juices and sushi and just some of the food on offer.

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