Busking, often known as street performance, is the practice of performing in public settings for tips. Although other gratuities like food, drink, or presents are sometimes provided, in many nations incentives are typically given in monetary form. Street performance has a long history and is practised all around the world. In the UK, those who engage in this activity are known as buskers or street entertainers. Buskers is not a term that is commonly used in American English outside of New York.

The term “performance” refers to anything that can amuse an audience, such as acrobatics, animal tricks, balloon twisting, caricatures, clowning, comedy, contortions, escapology, dance, singing, fire skills, flea circus, fortune-telling, juggling, magic, mime, living statues, musical performances, puppeteering, snake charming, storytelling or reciting poetry or prose, street art like sketching and painting, street theatre, sword swallowing. Check out 3D viewer Minecraft skin when you are viewing a street performance. 

street performer

Some History 

Street performers have existed for as long as there have been streets. People entertained and passed the hat for donations in ancient Egypt and Greece. European nobility’ personal street entertainers throughout the Middle Ages were troubadours, while minstrels and jongleurs entertained the general populace.

Twelve-year-old Benjamin Franklin sang in the streets of Philadelphia in colonial America! Immigrants contributed to the rise in popularity of street performers in New York at the turn of the century. Under the tenement windows, women were serenaded by Italian organ grinders and German marching bands known as “hurdy-gurdies.” Banjo musicians set up shop on elevated platforms and subway platforms during the Great Depression.

The government never really knew what to make of street performers. They appeared to believe that its spontaneity posed a danger to the rule of law. Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York City in the 1930s, referred to them as beggars (he supported the needy but disapproved of panhandling), and he outlawed street performers.

Even though public performances were once more permitted after 1970, train performances remained forbidden until the 1980s. However, there was no peace and quiet at the elevated or underground subway stations. Underground, artists continued to express themselves and draw audiences. For instance, in the 1940s, while awaiting their trains, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and other participants in the expanding Urban Folk Revival Movement pulled out their guitars. They felt that music may alter social conditions in addition to reclaiming public space.

Young Italian and African American males performed doo-wop inside subway vehicles at the beginning of the 1960s while being paid by grateful passengers. Public performers have been acknowledged by authorities since 1987 when an official MUNY (Music Under New York) programme was established. The MTA Arts for Transit office is now in charge of funding and overseeing the programme.

10 different types of street performers:

1. The Statue: This kind of performer might cover themselves in gold paint or create an odd attire to make them look like statues. Their primary strategy is to stay still. Then there are some statues that even move when a coin is thrown into their hat or when onlookers approach them to examine them.

street performer

2. The One-Man Band: With instruments for appendages, this artist is a full symphony, band, or cacophony of sound. This performer dazzles the audience with how many instruments they can play at once and how deftly they put the arrangement together.

3. The Flash Mob: This style of performance relies heavily on the element of surprise and transforms a regular restaurant or train station into a fully staged production. Even Oprah orchestrated a flash mob in Chicago with the Black Eyed Peas! The flash mob, which frequently requires a group of people and considerable organisation, has been employed repeatedly for artistic and business goals.

4. Social Experiment: Anyone up for an eye-gazing test? Free bear hugs? Performers of social experiments frequently “test” human nature through various interactions. Over the past ten years, social media and the internet have seen a huge increase in the popularity of videos that are occasionally comical, occasionally revealing, occasionally touching, and possibly all three.

5. The Magician: This performance involves the onlookers in a game, allowing the “audience” to lose themselves for a moment or a few minutes in their quest for challenge and interest.


6. Quirky Talent: Do you have a map of the United States that you can use to identify someone’s zip code precisely when they stand on it? The eccentric performer piques the audience’s curiosity and leaves them wondering, “How did they do that?”

7. The Solo Talented Artist: Have you ever experienced the joy of hearing a single flute float across the train station? Or a narrator sitting on a bench? Artists of various genres, including singer/songwriters, violinists, rappers, crooners, and storytellers, occasionally only need to do what they are skilled at in public.

street performer

8. The Ensemble: Barbershop quartets, break-dancers, and a band practising in front of the public. It’s amazing to see a group having a good time and providing a sneak peek of their play in a public setting. You can see they have worked well together.

9. The Community Igniter: The performers who blur the lines between audience and performer are a drum circle, a capoeira group that encourages onlookers to pick up an instrument, a salsa band, Lindy hop dancers, etc. The outcome is a surprise party in the street!

10. Site-Specific Work: This is the point where the performance interacts directly with the venue. Putting on a play in the woods where a character scales a tree in the middle of a scene? playing music in a cave and incorporating the environment’s acoustics into the composition. Site-specific, this may be quite innovative and exciting. Particularly with bands like Bandaloop that dangle from structures. The Trolley Dances, which takes audience members on a tour around the city to see various works throughout, are a fantastic example of a site-specific performance that takes place every year in San Francisco.