The Reno Punk Rock Flea Market is certainly not a place for faint-hearted folks.
A weekend-long display of blaring music, large crowds and overall chaos, the event occurred for the second year in a row on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9 and 10. Punk rock fans of all ages and backgrounds showed out for The Generator’s popular gathering, making it an unforgettable couple of days. A list of activities included listening to live music, browsing vendor booths, making DIY crafts, trying aerial gymnastics, watching a short documentary and drinking beer. Lots and lots of beer.
“My absolute favorite is watching people connect with each other,” said Jessi “Sproket” Janusee, the flea’s event coordinator and executive director. “[People] form bonds, learn about new artists and start following them, or they come here and learn that they can make art or do aerials or they could be part of a band, and then they have a whole new part to their life.”
Sproket hails from New Jersey, where punk rock flea markets are a common occurrence. She was inspired to bring the experience to Reno so the punk rock community could find a place to mingle with like-minded people. And there was no better place for such an event than The Generator in Sparks, NV, where Sproket also works as the public programs and outreach coordinator, and makers go to work on art projects for events like Burning Man.
According to Sproket, RPRFM has grown substantially since last year, in both crowd size and list of participating vendors.
“Last year we had over 86 vendors, and we have over a hundred this year,” she said, “[…] and I think it was better-attended this year.
Others who attended the flea market both years shared the same sentiments. Christian Bennett, a vendor selling wood, concrete and metal home decor for The Metal Mason, had a successful weekend thanks to the colossal crowd that came out each night.
“I came here last year, but as an attendee,” he said. “I think this year it’s bigger, it’s more well-organized and it seems like there’s a lot more diversity of people that are attending and the people that are vending.”
Businesses like The Metal Mason weren’t the only kind of vendors at the flea market, however. In one area of The Generator, dozens of people paid to use use large, heavy weapons to pummel cars to pieces for a dollar per hit. One of the vendors running the service, Alex Alcantar, said it was a popular attraction that drew large crowds.
“It’s my favorite thing in the world,” he said. “You see people come up, and they’re like ‘Hey, can I give you five dollars and just get in there?’ and they come out a changed person […] if you get to go in and take some swings at a car with a medieval weapon, it just feels really good.”
Alcantar also attended RPRFM as one of the performing band members. His band, Heterophobia, was incredibly well-received by the audience.
“We had an excellent time […] everybody’s just so open and ready to see art,” he said. “And then a band shows up on stage and they just want to go see the band play just for the sake of listening to some music, which is really hard to get in other contexts.”
During normal business hours, The Generator operates as a creative space for artists and even features robotics and children’s dance classes. Although there’s a monthly fee for makers looking for a place to work, others are encouraged to come hang out with the community and help out with various projects. Normal hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Carla Suggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @carla_suggs.