Riding the subway as I do, I see subway buskers on a pretty regular basis. And I don’t mean subway station buskers (which invariably have a drum kit which just sounds loud and cacophonous), I mean people doing various sorts of entertaining on subway cars. It’s an interesting illustration of the selective blindness and deafness that New Yorkers can employ when they want to.
I hardly ever give these guys money, partly because I don’t have any, and partly because I generally don’t appreciate being held hostage for art’s sake. Music should be something you choose to partake in or not, I feel like it’s not fair to subject me to entertainment when most of the time I’m not interested in being entertained.
Sometimes I will, though, if the act is unique enough. Once there was a high school kid doing freestyle rapping about being homeless, I don’t know if he was homeless or not, but in the middle of his freestyle–he was holding onto the railing above a line of seats, and I think he wasn’t super-conscious of the space he was filling up, and the person who was sitting practically under him asked him to step back. And he did, changing mid-flow to apologize to the man without breaking his rap, and rapped a little bit about being apologetic. That impressed me, so the kid got $1 (yeah, a measly fucking buck.)
Second time I gave money, it was the same week (maybe even the day after) my boyfriend dumped me. A trio of men came on, and sang this beautiful gospel rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” I’ve actually seen them twice now, and given them money both times, because their singing is seriously gorgeous, and anyone who makes me cry deserves money.
The third and fourth times have both been crews of breakdancers. It takes a lot of practice to do breakdancing and do it well (erm, not that I’ve ever tried), to say nothing of doing it on a moving train, hanging off the poles and the handlebars and not hitting any of the passengers. (You’re also only going to see these folks going from Manhattan to Brooklyn, because they need the long space between stops going over/under the East River really get going.)
There’s not a point to this entry, really, just to point out something that I never saw in Denver.