by Angeli Rodriguez
Photography by Michaela Johnston
For the Boston University student, Allston is a mixed bag. It’s often the site of ill-fated basement fraternity parties, close encounters with rats—earning it the nickname “Rat City”—and a potential location for off-campus apartments. The streets are lined with as many apartment complexes as there are bars and late-night food joints, and the air has the heady scent of independence—but that might just be spilled Bud Light. However, right on Brighton Ave., not far from the frat houses and freshman crawls, POP Allston offers a different type of community gathering place.
Less than a year old, POP Allston has already made a huge impact on the neighborhood. It opened as a one-of-a-kind pop-up space in Allston Village. The warehouse-esque building came together through the group effort of organizations such as the Orchard Skate Shop and the CommonWheels Bicycle Co-Op; buoyed with support from the City of Boston. Inside, the space has a skate park, yoga studio, DIY bike shop and a vintage market.
The Conservatory skate park is one of the first in the world to be both indoors and free to the public. It was constructed from recycled and donated materials, and funded by the sneaker company Converse, which has a location nearby. Nearly 10,000 square feet in size, the park takes up two of POP Allston’s four floors. The different kinds of terrain on each floor are meant to encourage use by skaters of all skill levels. Along with recreational skating, classes and workshops are offered in the space for those who want to pick up new tricks. The only thing required to skate is a signed waiver and government-issued ID.
POP Allston is also home to Yoga Hub Boston. According to its official website, the studio was founded by instructor Ali Singer in 2015 as a “network of yoga teachers and practitioners.” Singer offers donation-based yoga three times a week to make the exercise form she loves accessible to anyone interested in trying it. While a $10 donation is suggested, students only have to pay what they can afford. Her unconventional classes range from Reggae Yoga Flow to Glow Yoga, and are meant to accommodate both beginners and long-time practitioners.
Oliver Best Markets can be found on the first floor and in the basement. Created by Vivant Vintage founder Justin E. Pomerleau, the market brings together various local vendors for a thrift-store-meets-record-store experience. Customers have an abundance of vinyl to choose from, as well as vintage or artisan clothing, jewelry, home goods and other quirky items. But be aware: Oliver Best is only open on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Thanks to the non-profit CommonWheels, POP Allston additionally offers workshops, social ride opportunities and other resources to hardcore cyclists and bike lovers alike. The art group !ND!V!DUALS showcases unique sculptures and installations throughout the building. The space also features the art of other local artists.
POP Allston also manages to host events aside from its weekly services. These vary each month and contribute to the “pop-up” aesthetic. The space is constantly evolving and changing, and you can never be really sure what you’re getting yourself into when you walk through the doors.