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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Circus-themed fashion show for pets unleashes at the How Bazar

UF student organization for LGBTQ+ hosted the Barkin’ Market Friday night 

A local cat attends the Barkin’ Market event at How Bazar on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.
A local cat attends the Barkin’ Market event at How Bazar on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

Under the fluorescent lights of Southwest Second Street’s How Bazar, dogs, cats, snakes and birds circled around the venue Friday, adorned in handmade crochet outfits. The proud owners accompanied each pet, stopping to let the crowd that lined the perimeter admire them, an event organizers call ‘Barkin' Market: A Night at the Circus.’ 

Organized by Fluidity Fashion, a UF club dedicated to the creative expression of queer students, Barkin’ Market transformed How Bazar into a colorful circus-themed spectacle of pet fashion for the second year in a row

Strutting down the makeshift runway while the music of Gainesville-based DJ Jordie Ortiz played, pets wore custom circus-themed outfits. A jester dog, a magician cat and a showman bird posed for the cheering members of Fluidity Fashion. Three vendors sat at tables draped with tablecloths and arrays of carved crystals, clay jewelry and artisanal candles. 

Melanie Rodriguez-Martinez, a 24-year-old Santa Fe College nursing senior and the vice president of event outreach for Fluidity Fashion, said she played a key role in coming up with Barkin’ Market’s theme. 

Her cat, Aster, modeled for the show. One-year-old Aster is a blind, three-legged orange cat. He wore a crocheted lion’s mane costume as Rodriguez-Martinez carried him down the runway. 

Rodriguez-Martinez said her involvement in Fluidity Fashion helped her explore sides of herself she previously did not. Her pursuit of sports limited her ability to nurture her creative side, she said.

“Fluidity gave me the space to not only express myself,” she said, “but to also give others the ability to express themselves.” 

Erin Nadel, a 20-year-old UF environmental science sophomore and Fluidity Fashion’s general logistics chair and photographer, first got involved with the organization after attending its Spring fashion show last year, she said. 

“It just seemed like a really positive queer community and queer space,” she said.

Nadel said the crowd at this year’s market was larger compared to last year, indicating the growing popularity and impact of the event.

“The best part… was the turnout,” she said. “Just seeing the vibes that everybody was bringing to the table, and the amount of stylish and cool people that came out.”

She said last year’s Barkin’ Market was a successful fundraiser for the club, so the members decided to organize another. 

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Kerry Fitzgerald is a 21-year-old UF psychology and anthropology senior. He and his Golden Retriever, who goes by Nico or Stinky, participated in the fashion show. 

Fitzgerald is a member of the Pride Student Union at UF. He said the club works closely with Fluidity Fashion to plan meetings, workshops and events. 

Learning about the event through Fluidity Fashion’s Instagram account, he instantly knew he wanted his dog to be in the show. Fitzgerald said he coordinated to have his parents bring the dog to Gainesville from his hometown. 

“It was a really good experience to socialize and… show off my dog,” he said. 

Zachary Rubin, a 22-year-old UF applied physiology and kinesiology senior, is the chair of models for Fluidity Fashion and a part of the event outreach team along with Rodriguez-Martinez. 

“Fluidity is truly the best organization on campus when it comes to spreading queer creative expression,” Rubin said. 

As the night came to a close, attendees said goodbye to the animals, petting their heads and saying “good boy” one last time. 

As Fluidity Fashion continues its mission of providing a platform for self-expression and inclusivity, members said the success of this circus-themed affair serves as a testament to the power of celebration and connection. 

Contact Emilia Cardenas-Perez at Follow her on X @emiliaandreaa.

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