Over the past few days I’ve been visiting touristy places to see people’s approach to busking. I didn’t have much luck, though. It seems that hardly anyone in Poland performs on the street. Not including musicians, of course. There was plenty of them but performing music is completely different – most musicians just do their thing and don’t care about gathering, keeping and then monetizing the crowd.
First I went to the Old Town in Warsaw. I saw a guy who probably just wanted to step out of his comfort zone and gain more confidence. He was wearing a pathetic outfit (Kubota shoes, thick socks and shorts – a combination you cannot understand unless you are Polish), holding a small plastic toy guitar. He was pretending to play it and sang along some well-known Polish songs. Needless to say, he couldn’t sing at all, but still gave it his best shot. I found that really impressive – it’s easy to just fool around, but it takes some guts to really try as best you can and let everyone know how much you suck. Anyway, there were some people cheering for him and clapping but I don’t suppose he made any money or even tried to earn anything. That was a true eye-opener, though: You don’t need to be good at anything to gather a crowd. You just need to be loud.
After that I saw a proper busking team. A few people were doing hip-hop dancing. They were pretty closely following a textbook scenario of a busking show. Still, to my unexperienced eye it seemed they were quite unsuccessful. They gathered a nice, big crowd and then lost vast majority of it before the end of the show. I talked briefly to one of them after the show and he said they had been doing that for a very long time. So perhaps they had found out that this way was working best for them. Also, it seemed that quite few of them felt uncomfortable and even intimidated performing in public. Even though they had some nice skills to show. Anyway, after that encounter I felt pretty good about myself. Maybe I’m being to optimistic, but I think that with some practice I can pull off something as entertaining.
Then I went to Sopot, a charming town filled with tourists. I was expecting to see a lot of buskers at every corner and take some notes. To my disappointment, I saw only one (not counting the musicians). He was a contact juggler. There were 3 short bits he was doing over and over again. It was quite impressive, especially for me – I absolutely love contact jugglers. Still, I think he hadn’t given much thought to his show. There was no interaction with the audience, no hat lines. He was pretty much doing it the musicians’ way – just doing his thing. Still, he managed to gather quite a nice crowd and a coin would drop into his hat every minute or so. Good for him. He had small speakers and a separate soundtrack prepared for each of the bits he performed. That might have helped gather some attention. Unfortunately, since he was doing his show over and over again, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him.
Oh, there was another lady: She was sitting on a bench with a sign written on a cardboard: ‘Fortune telling’. I wasn’t interested in that, though. As a rationalist, I was actually even quite appalled. It reminded me, however, that I would really love to learn cold reading.
There is one common thing I noticed about all of those people: They don’t have to worry about the angles. I envy them so much!
Well, that’s pretty much it. Perhaps I will meet someone in Kołobrzeg. I will let you know soon.