I always look forward to street performers when I travel. To turn a corner and find a magician, or to be drawn to happy music nearby. It’s amazing to see what performers do with their talent…or what they’ve created to show off a skill. I’m less impressed with the now-familiar “statues” that are frozen in place on corners or in parks, but I do admire the ability to stand in one position for hours. And some of the costumes are pretty clever. They get a coin from me, too.
Buskers is the word I like for the people who “entertain by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place.” It originated around 1850, derived from either the Italian word buscare (to get or gain) or the Spanish word buscar (to seek or look for).
Today’s photo gallery features buskers from two of my favorite cities:
1. Paris, where artists of all types gather near Sacre Coeur, in the 18th Arrondissement of Montmartre. Get your portrait sketched, for sure. But at the front of the basilica, overlooking the city, there are performing artists. My all-time favorite busker–I call him Soccer Ball Guy–is here. There is usually music, and the church steps make it easy to stop and enjoy the entertainment.
2. London, where Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park probably doesn’t qualify as street performance, but is a fascinating demonstration of the right to free speech…and it can be quite entertaining. Every Sunday since 1872, anyone can come to the northeast edge of the park and speak their mind. (BYOL: Bring your own ladder.) Lively debates happen. Notables who have shared their opinions include Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell. In 2003, over a million Londoners gathered to protest the war in Iraq.
If you pause to watch or listen, drop some coins in the street performer’s hat or instrument case. (No need at Speakers’ Corner.) The person who brightened your day deserves a reward. Even at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, there is a busker in the tunnel leading to the parking lot and the train into the city. I can always hear him as I approach. He makes me glad to be coming home…and gets my dollar.
Finally, an authentic busker, this one from Naples. I heard him before I saw him on the evening I arrived in Napoli. Click on the link to see why I happily gave him two Euros…