Inching up the stairs towards a secluded bar, my friends and I are surrounded by colorful lights seeping in from the building’s tinted windows. Each floor turns into a different color: blue, red, green, and finally yellow, perfectly complementing the establishment it engulfs. Entering the lounge, the DJ greets us with music we had only heard murmurs of on the way up. Remnants of the bar’s evening operations are tucked into corners; the bar and kitchen barely in focus. Today, it is transformed into a boutique. In place of tables, rows and rows of vintage clothing crowd the well–lit lounge for this weekend’s Season Pass Community Flea

Season Pass is a vintage clothing store located in Quezon City that has hosted weekend flea market events since 2019. Owner Lean Torres tells the story of how the company started out importing streetwear clothing but later transitioned to curating vintage essential wear. Torres was initially hesitant because of negative perceptions surrounding thrifting or “ukay–ukay;” but he fell in love with the design of the clothes themselves, overwhelmed by the capability of vintage cartoon prints to transport him back to his childhood through their existence alone.

Concealed within the upper levels of high–rise buildings, weekend second–hand pop–ups have slowly sprouted in cafés, bars, and creative spaces around Manila. Advertised on Instagram and TikTok, daytime scenes like that of the Season Pass Community Flea are increasingly appealing to young shoppers as an experimental alternative to malling—a popular hangout activity for teens and adults alike. Music is central to the identity of these events, with a live DJ setting the tone through tunes ranging from local rap, such as hip–hop collective Kartell’em, to mainstream K–pop like NewJeans. Coffee and pastries are equally central, if not almost expected of these weekend pop–ups. If they aren't hosted in an establishment that offers refreshments, you are sure to find a booth that does so. 

Season Pass is quintessentially community–based. From its establishment, the community flea was organized to uplift local sellers. Sellers at the community flea are friends and friends of friends; some frequent shoppers have even become sellers. While “ukay–ukay” is often associated with shopping at a consignment store, Season Pass and other markets like it elevate the ukay experience while still retaining bargainable prices. Some goods are admittedly higher–priced ($15+), and others venture into the territory of luxury goods. Shopping at the pop–up nurtures a sense of community, with merchants conversing with shoppers about their day and remembering familiar faces amid hundreds of visitors.

Season Pass isn’t the only second–hand brand with heavy traffic: pop–up markets hosted by Nirvana Collective, Fits Ya Good, and Venus Collab offer different styles of clothing and thereby project distinct experiences. Collectively, these brands generate creative communities of young, fashion–loving regulars.

Growing up in the crowded metropolis of Manila, I often found it difficult to meet strangers in the insular culture of the Philippines. However, these regularly–scheduled weekend events allow for young Filipinos to develop their own sense of community separate from family, work, or school. Often high up in perplexingly unassuming buildings and living spaces, these enticing thrifting events appear almost invisible to those who don't know about them, an immersive break from everyday life.