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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Jugglers only? (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

KendallScot
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Denver, Colorado
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I busk on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder Colorado. It’s beautiful and busker-friendly. I love it there. The problem is, so does every juggler within reasonable driving distance. Please don’t get me wrong. I love juggling acts and MOST jugglers are amiable and willing to work with me.

Pearl Street has one main busking pitch that is established as “The place to watch street entertainers”. There is a smaller pitch just west of the main pitch that also works but there is no shade and during the heat of the day, most people won’t stand in the heat for more than a couple minutes. Then there are normally a number of smaller areas that are okay, but not great spots.

Last weekend, I got to the mall a little later than normal and went to see the main pitch to see about getting into the rotation. There were 6 or 7 fire juggler acts, 2 unicycle jugglers and 1 pole climber juggling act. Also 2 acrobat/juggling acts. They were setup on the main and secondary pitch and trade off shows between the two. One show performs while the next one sets up on the other pitch. There was also Ibashi, the contortionist and Zippy, the zip-code act.

The last few years, there have been up to 3 fire jugglers as well as the other acts. There was no problem working my act or other magicians into the mix. It is normally welcomed since it breaks up the rather monotonous chain of non-stop fire jugglers.

However, last weekend I was told to go away, the 2 main pitches are for jugglers only. I was told and I’m quoting here: “Magic acts can’t build a big show so don’t take up a show slot that a REAL act could use”.

Now, I can normally setup anywhere and do pretty good. I can also build a big show and hold it. So, I was a bit ticked off at being told this. Also, last weekend there was an “Arts and Jazz” festival so all but the main two pitches were taken by booths and tents selling Native American art and jewelry (no jazz that I could find). So I didn’t really have another spot to setup. As it turns out, I was there 12 hours going from spot to spot and barely covered expenses.

I’m curious if this is normal in other busking areas or if this is just a Boulder thing. I’m not looking for advice on how to handle this kind of situation, it happens and normally things work out. I am more curious if this happens everywhere?
Kendall Scot

"The art of a magician is to create wonder. If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives will be filled with joy"
**Doug Henning**

"I drank WHAT?""
**Socrates**
imgic
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Moved to Seattle to see
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I've seen more jugglers than other acts (well besides musicians) when I travel. But what annoys me about the acts I see on Pearl Streey are the lengthy set up times (they put up poles, wires, get torches ready, etc) and then the length if their shows. 30 minutes at minimum seems to be the norm. And they are aggressive and repeatative on the hat lines. I won't stop and watch them any more.

Keep at it Kendall. You've got a great act...Pearl Street needs you!

I love your "non-juggling" opener as well!
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
MagiCol
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Dargaville, New Zealand
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Hi, Kendall. You don't want advice, and I'd like to know more. I see the population of Boulder is about 100,000. What do you reckon makes it such a popular place for buskers?
I usually busk at a city of about 50,000 here in north New Zealand and in the main public busking area, a short public mall,there are about 5 buskers on a typical Saturday in the mall or at the ends of it. No particular stage area, people just set up where they like/can and we get along fine.
It's an interesting contrast with your situation. How many buskers on a typical Saturday at your city?
The presentation makes the magic.
G.Gilbert
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baltimore
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My friend Reid is there right now.. reidshow.com. and I'm not sure but MArk Riggs and Casey may be there too.. As far as magicians working Boulder, talk to Nick W. On this forum (nickey fynn), he's worked it and knows where to go away from the fray ... kenny lightoot used to work it as well
MagiCol
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Dargaville, New Zealand
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Here's a video of the mall at Boulder - looks like enough space for performers back a few years ago...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWSoIFleFh0
The presentation makes the magic.
MagiCol
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Dargaville, New Zealand
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Oh, I see the video was made just last year.
The presentation makes the magic.
KendallScot
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Denver, Colorado
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Magicol, Pearl street is so popular because it is very Busker friendly. Boulder is a wealthy area so people are more proned to tip large and often. It also has a good amount of tourist traffic. The Mall is very "laid back" with great shops and restaurants so people are not rushing as much in a hurry. Most people are just strolling around and will stop to watch a show more frequently. It is also home to a University that is quite expensive. So there are a LOT of college kids with money. The shops and restaurants on Pearl support Busking for the most part. Once the summer season kicks off, if you include the musicians and human statues, I've seen as many as 20-25 acts on the mall.

Oh yes, and one insane homeless lady with a drum...

G.Gilbert, I know Reid and have shared the pitch with him several times. His act is very good and he gets a HUGE crowd. He also is the most aggressive hat liner I've ever seen. Personally, I think he goes too far and turns a lot of people off tipping. But it works for him, he makes huge hats. His personality is such that he gets away with repeatedly telling people that tipping less than 5 dollars is insulting and yelling insults at people who don't tip. If I tried that I'd probably get my butt kicked. With Reid, it works.

Of course, after saying all this the mall will probably have about 50 magicians on it this weekend... Smile
Kendall Scot

"The art of a magician is to create wonder. If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives will be filled with joy"
**Doug Henning**

"I drank WHAT?""
**Socrates**
Nick W
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Everyone deserves the chance to be there. doesn't matter who or what. however.................if its a prime time slot and your show cannot build and hold a large crowd, the other performers might get ticked off. becuase in a way its taking $$ from their pockets. pearl has several spots so if someone is whining you can always move away.

generally as a rule of thumb, magic shows don't draw as large of a crowd as a juggler with fire on a unicycle. its just a numbers game.

also a problem I see with street magic is that theres such a one track mind with magic busking. seems like everyone thinks they need a table and a few cups and a wand and that's a magic show. that's so limiting and it plays so small. that's what busking pearl taught me: to treat my show like a juggling show. go big and get bigger crowds. but you prolly wont find me at pearl anytime soon anymore....you cant use an amp. and my show is amped therefore if I don't use my amp I'm not performing to my fullest potential. don't we all deserve the opportunity to be our highest self?
MagiCol
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Dargaville, New Zealand
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Thanks for the explanation, Kendall.
Big Hats!
The presentation makes the magic.
The Great Zoobini
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Boulder, Colorado
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The less buskers at a pitch, the more money there is to be made.
They try this on everybody.

I don't like waiting in lines, myself, when there's 4 blocks to work with.
Keep in mind 5 blocks off the mall either way are also fair game.

Quote:
On Jul 10, 2014, Nick W wrote:
you prolly wont find me at pearl anytime soon anymore....you cant use an amp. and my show is amped therefore if I don't use my amp I'm not performing to my fullest potential. don't we all deserve the opportunity to be our highest self?


Yes we do - but not at the expense of others.

Together with Malcolm Watson & Jeffrey Edge, we slugged this out in the early 1990's with city hall.
They decided to amp half and please everyone.
But the amps were too noisy with teenagers learning their new electric guitars.
The ambience had been lost on half the mall.
The other half hummed...It was sweet.
The city adopted European rules they had been shown - no more amps.
Private mall management then took over and kept the same rules.
Meet you in Busker Alley Smile
Nick W
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Its not about the expense of others. its about providing a complete theatrical experience. as best you can. anyone with sense knows not to turn an amp up too loud.
KendallScot
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Denver, Colorado
133 Posts

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When I first started at Pearl street, my act used light recorded background music. That's all I wanted, I was not even going to use a microphone. Just custom music recorded for each routine like Nick W said, for a more theatrical mood. When I was told I could not use low volume background music because it was "amped", yet my act is frequently drowned out by the incredibly loud drums and bagpipes that show up. I got pretty upset. I definitely understand not wanting kids with electric guitars and such, however I always thought that it should be a volume restriction instead of an all-out ban.

With that in mind, I now have a very good show that does not require music that I can take anywhere, amped or not. And I love the "hum of the mall" as Zoobini mentioned.

I don't like waiting in lines either. As I mentioned in the original post there was a large festival going so the main pitch was the only really viable one that weekend. Otherwise I would not have even tried to get in the rotation.
Kendall Scot

"The art of a magician is to create wonder. If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives will be filled with joy"
**Doug Henning**

"I drank WHAT?""
**Socrates**
G.Gilbert
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baltimore
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Quote:
On Jul 10, 2014, KendallScot wrote:

, he makes huge hats.


Good, he owes me money
Garret D
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Denver
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Why not head to 16th Street mall in Denver? Jimmy Talksalot is here right now, and there's plenty of room. The people are harder to stop, but there's only one juggler and he's super cool. If you come down, say hi. I'm the guy with the goldfish.
cheesewrestler
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Chicago
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Quote:


However, last weekend I was told to go away, the 2 main pitches are for jugglers only. I was told and I’m quoting here: “Magic acts can’t build a big show so don’t take up a show slot that a REAL act could use”.



Exactly who told you that?
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