• Molly McElaney

Three Things We Learned Launching Our 2021 Season

As we reflect on the 2021 season, we look back fondly on our freshman season of Uptown Night Market. We got to share so many great memories of food, music, merch, and people with all of you safely against the odds of both the pandemic and the INSANE weather (climate change might be real y’all). Here are the top three things we learned while launching Uptown Night Market in Harlem:

1. How to be flexible. Our opening night in July could have drowned our momentum— literally— with flooding and a thunderstorm that put New York underwater. We were told we had the proper drainage prepared (SMH) and all the umbrellas, but it wasn’t enough. When we announced our rescheduled opening, Harlem and NYC gave us the grace and had the patience so we could come back full blast in August. The extra time allowed us to refine our event and introduce it to the community, and we made sure that all of our vendors came back for FREE to make up for the situation. And BOY, you guys made it worth it with over 7,000 of you turning up to support us!

2. How supportive Harlem’s local organizations are. We already knew that Harlem, being world-famous for its culture, vibes, and leadership in all that is cool, is a tight community. Harlem is the birthplace of jazz that produced one of the biggest renaissances in history, the kind of place that supports the Apollo, launches landmark restaurants like Melba’s, Red Rooster, Amy Ruth’s, Harlem Shake, and other classic and modern institutions. But the dedication of the community was overwhelming. We couldn’t have done ANY of this without the amazing contribution of West Harlem Development Corporation as well as supporters like Community Board 9, Harlem Night Market, Harlem Park to Park, New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and countless others!

3. How to have fun. We won’t lie to you. Behind the scenes, it’s not always the MOST exciting. Every day, for weeks, we’re in meetings, filling out forms, sketching out strategy; basically, all the nitty-gritty event planning to bring to you these experiences. But Uptown Night Market is a PARTY first and foremost. And Harlem loves a good night out, no matter your age, race, ethnicity! You got dressed up, done up, and came out to support your family. On the second Thursday of every month, we got to eat good local food, interact with art provided by sponsors like Gorillas, and dance dance DANCE until we couldn’t stand NO MORE with you.

All and all, it was a FANTASTIC year. So what do you guys say? Comment on your favorite memory from this season. Let’s bring the good into 2022, and have Uptown Night Market in Spring 2022! Mark your calendars so you can check out our fire vendors as your New Year’s resolution. For more information, follow us on Instagram @uptownnightmarket or subscribe to our weekly newsletter here. See you next season!

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