It’s Saturday, the 4th of October. The online ‘market calendar’ (markedskalenderen.dk) lists no less than 15 different flea markets in the Copenhagen region – all happening on the same day! It is almost impossible not to bump into some bric-a-brac, second hand or unique antique goods selling people that have decorated their stalls with colourful clothes racks, vintage designer lamps, Tramp Art picture frames, costume jewellery, art-deco chinaware and baby clothes in messy piles. Flea markets thrive during Copenhagen’s Spring and Summer time, transforming certain public spaces into temporary open air museums.
Apart from the slight sensory overload, walking up and down the stalls can be quite appealing. While browsing through magazines, old postcards or photographs, LPs, cassette tapes, clothes and all sorts of exotic and random objects I’m infected by a romantic nostalgia for somebody else’s past and fascinated by the small glimpse into a country’s history. It was on Nørrebro’s flea markets that I was introduced to the works of Stina Goya, Henrik Vibskov, Soulland or Samsøe & Samsøe – a small selection of Danish fashion labels or Designers.
I also learned about some traditional Danish cuisine one day, when I discovered an old Aebleskiver pan, which is a kitchen utensil that looks slightly like a game board. Its hemispherical indentations can be filled with some sort of wheat-buttermilk-egg-sugar batter which turns into the most delicious, puffy little pancakes. In fact, half of my interior is from diverse flee markets all over the city. Each item comes with its own story. Last week I bought a ring made out of a button which was wrapped in a hand-sewed sachet including a little note saying “My name is Camille. I’m made of a vintage button and a nickel free metal ring. Take care of me. I’m unique!” These fictional or non-fictional attachments that people associate with the objects on sale seem like some kind of imaginative pleasure seeking activity that creates a particular atmosphere on flea markets – rather playful, and exciting. Even if you are not searching or dickering, you can accumulate a wealth of knowledge just by listening to conversations of other flea market enthusiasts in the course of their search. Some marvel at the potential value of objects, others look at things and reminisce about their past. Combined with the sheer numbers of goods, people, smells and sounds, Copenhagen’s flea markets are a true spectacle and equal at least one day of sightseeing. To me, they are actually far more satisfying.