Wednesday, 6 April 2005

The Art Of Busking

Nearly two years ago, London Underground decided to tackle the problem of illegal busking in tube stations. At the time, busking was illegal but a lot of passengers, when polled, said that, although sometimes they hated a badly rendered tune, most of the music they heard on the underground was quite decent and gave a friendly touch to their morning commute. Forcibly removing buskers would be costly and not good for London Underground's image. So they made busking legal but with some conditions attached: if you want to play music on the London Underground, you have to have a license. To get this license you have to pass an audition to prove that you are good enough and that you won't damage the public's eardrums.

LUL hoped that by introducing this scheme, they would be able to control busking and improve the quality of what was played in the tunnels of tube stations, thus making the whole experience more enjoyable for their customers. It was a resounding success. They even released an album. But for me the ultimate proof it was a success was when I came out of Piccadilly Circus station last week. At the bottom of the escalator to the Piccadilly line was a busker playing the drums. As far as drums go, he was good, really good. And then I realised he didn't have two drumsticks, he had three: he was juggling with them while playing, without losing a beat. As a result he had a crowd of spectators cheering and it gave the station a real party atmosphere, just what you need on a Saturday night.

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