The first 626 Night Market was a victim of its own, unanticipated success. Taiwanese-American organizers Johhny and Janet Hwang struggled to get enough vendors to commit even after lowering fees to the point that they expected to lose money. The Facebook page had about 2,000 fans a couple of weeks before its debut but FB fans are a notoriously flaky bunch – or is that just when I’m hosting something?
By some estimates, when the night market actually took place, some 10,000 people descended on a single, long block of North Oakland in Old Town. It was honestly a bit scary being swept along by the crowd without any control and a little amazing. My roommate’s phone disappeared and we weren’t even able to approach most of the food vendors to even see what was available -- forced to accept the sugary toast sold nearest to the entrance. Several friends I expected to meet gave up -- several opting to go to Arcadia to satisfy their Taiwanese jones. My roommate and I barely escaped and went to Lucky Baldwin’s. They, along with other businesses in the vicinity, were probably among the few who enjoyed the windfall that resulted from what was quickly nicknamed the "626 Nightmare Market" -- or maybe that was just me.
The night market in Yilan -- notice breathing room and smiles
For those unfamiliar with night markets (I overheard someone at a neighboring table explaining that there was “some kind of Asian fest” taking place) are nighttime bazaars where people do a little shopping as they aimlessly ramble and eat street food. They’re especially popular in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. I’ve been to them in Haulien, Taipei, Taitung, Yilan and Pasadena and in my experience eating and strolling are the primary focus except the first Pasadena, where not getting trampled or crushed was.