Impromptu performance at public spaces

Busking sessions

Impromptu performance at public spaces

Busking, to put it simply, involves performances in public areas, often with the hope of soliciting gratuities from passersby.

This can involve music, mime, dance, theatre and even puppetry among other things.  The concept has always been popular in parks, subways and street corners in the West.

In fact, artistes like Boy Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Eric Clapton and even Carlos Santana began their careers as buskers. Of late, Indians, and specifically Bangaloreans, are trying their hand at keeping up with this trend.

As part of CounterCulture’s ‘An Ode to the Blues’ festival, there were busking sessions called ‘Blues around Town’ by local musicians like Anand Vijaysimha, Ananth Menon and Sylvester Pradeep, which were held on Church Street, Indiranagar and the UB City.

   “The aim was to popularise the blues, provide an interesting distraction to people walking on the roads and while at it, create awareness about the festival,” says Guru Somayaji, programmer at CounterCulture, adding, “even if people stop to hear you for 30 seconds, it’s decent given that busking doesn’t really exist here.”

   The ‘Neighbourhood Art Festival’ in March had also held similar busking sessions.
On the permissions needed to perform, Guru adds, “In places like London and Copenhagen, busking licences are issued by the city council because there’s a proper busking culture there.

Here, it’s just a bunch of guys doing what they love. There are no permissions needed because the legality is still a grey area.

They only charge you for public nuisance if it gets too loud.” Anand Vijaysimha, one of the best known buskers in the City, shares his experience.

“When I started busking two years ago, I was surprised that no one else was doing it. I initially did it to get over stage fright but it eventually turned into a social experiment. A stage differentiates the performer from the crowd but this is more real.

I love the reactions of people passing by,” says Anand. On the scope for it here, he notes, “We are still way behind the rest of the world. Hopefully, with more musicians on the streets and nicer spaces, we can make busking a part of our regular music experience.”

Though busking is usually associated with solo musicians, in the strict sense of the term, street theatre could also come under it. But unlike music, there aren’t too many takers for it.

“We performed a street play about how voting is important for a successful democracy in front of Mantri and Garuda Malls. It was both in Kannada and English but the response was very poor. Most people didn’t pay any attention and carried on with their work,” recalls Manoj Kumar Kalaivanan, a theatre enthusiast.

“It’s necessary to provide a performance space while constructing any public space where the crowd is concentrated. It will make that space more dynamic,” he recommends.

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