Ybor City Night Market
You may travel far and never know what’s under your own nose. I had to go halfway around the world to take pictures at the night market in Hong Kong. But did you know that Tampa has a night market of its own? Did I? Not until I started looking for likely places for the new OLLI Shutterbugs SIG to go shooting. We held our organizational meeting on Wednesday, May 9, and on Thursday night, May 10, six of us were rendezvousing at a truly unprepossessing spot near Ybor City: the back entrance to the loading yard of Coppertail Brewing.
It was not even dusk, so we didn’t suspect what lay in store as we walked up and down aisles of jewelry, clothing, produce, oils, glass, herbs, candles, plants and toys. Did I forget to mention beer? For company we had a good-looking, mostly young, crowd, including a smattering of babies, children and the occasional dog or two.
I must reveal that I’m no stranger to this kind of thing, a veteran of street fairs in New York City since the 1960s, and I like this stuff. There’s a name for people like me: street shooter. I plunged in as frisky as a dolphin in the wake of a cruise vessel in Pine Island Sound. Clicking my shutter, looking, looking, smiling at babies and dogs, getting into conversations.
At some point, a fellow Shutterbug interrupted me to point out a way into the building. Past loading docks and vats lay an unsuspected (by me) hall of food and beer. And inside it another good-looking, mostly young, crowd drank, ate, talked, laughed and looked glad to be there.
When I emerged again, the magic had begun. The lights were on, and that blue hour of dusk beloved by photographers had given way to evening just deepening into night. Fairy light, there’s nothing else to call it when quite ordinary everyday people suddenly look photogenic, as you can see from the pictures.
The pictures are by Dave Lockwood, Sylvia Fernandez (the bottles) and me. The night market is held from 6 p.m. to 10 on the second Thursday of the month. Entrance at 2601 Second Avenue.
I see online there’s going to be a second night market starting in September on the first Thursday of the month at 201 North Franklin Street.
Now, there’s another outing for the OLLI Shutterbugs.
Shelly Belzer, a retired New York Times editor, has been a member of OLLI-USF since 2012. In addition to leading the Shutterbugs SIG, he is a founding member of the OLLI Hikers SIG. He has taken courses on art, poetry, China, Spanish and Hillsborough County’s wild lands.