“This doesn’t look like the type of area where a market would be held”, I muttered suspiciously as I cycled into a barren shipping yard on a crisp Sunday afternoon in November. The area was still, lifeless, except for the distant figure of a security guard huddled in a doorway, smoking a cigarette.
I cycled towards her. “Excuse me, I’m looking for the Mannenzaken market at Roest…” my voice trailed off doubtfully as she looked me over.
“Over there,” she pointed towards a small lane-way which disappeared behind a line of warehouses. “Down that street.”
I smiled my thanks and cycled towards the lane-way, unsure whether I felt comforted that she knew the area or unsettled by how out of character the location seemed for a market. I turned the corner and cycled past a large office building and through the shipping yard. In the distance, three cyclists dismounted their bikes and walked out of view behind a fenced-off barricade. Between the cracks, I caught sight of the dancing flames from a fire pit.
“That’s got to be it.” I dismounted my bike and walked towards the fenced barricade where I was confronted with lanes of bicycle parking. A red double decker bus cornered off the area behind it, creating a wall of privacy. It seems I’d found a pocket of edgy, urban life, hidden behind the shipping yard.
After exploring the courtyard, I entered the warehouse to the left, pushing through the PVC slip door. The large room had been stripped back to show off the railings and pipework. Many of the walls were decorated in painted murals, adding character to the otherwise stark building. Vendors selling their wares decorated the space; rails of brightly coloured suit jackets, wooden bow-ties, pocket knives and other “manly” items were on display.
After exploring the warehouse, it was time to head back into the cold. I huddled by the fire-pit but noticed as people casually walked in and out of the building to the right (that’s when it clicked that the building must be Roest!) I opened the door and pushed past a red velvet curtain into a bar where groups of people chatted over beers and glasses of warm gluhwein.
More vendors lined the walls to sell wooden chopping boards, artistic prints and wooden jewelry. In a corner of the room, hidden behind a barrier of plants, a small space had been reserved for small groups to participate in sex-themed seminars and discussions. Bursts of giggles from the female participants could be heard above the music in the bar.
As the afternoon light faded and a deeper chill dampened the air, I realized it was time to head home. The coloured fairy lights that decorated the area now twinkled brightly against the dulling sky, illuminating my efforts to unlock my bike.
As I cycled through the shipping yard, it occurred to me how much my opinion of the area had changed after my experience at Mannenzaken. My suspicions for the area had changed into interest for future events.
In a city rife with markets, where much of the same wares can be recycled between events, I almost passed over checking out the Mannenzaken market. Although I did recognize a few of the vendors and their wares, it was actually the atmosphere that I enjoyed best about the experience. It seemed like more of an event than a simple market with queues of people tiptoeing past tables of goods. Between the musical performances, DJ, workshops, bonfires, bar and BBQ, there was something to keep everyone occupied, in a casual, friendly and unpretentious setting. I had a great time at the Mannenzaken market and hope to see more themed markets in the future.