Monday, April 19, 2010

Gymnastics in the Subway

I've been riding the NYC subway for 24 years and thought I had seen the full range of underground performers (even before the fabulous Music Under New York program kicked in). Back in the late 80's, there was an amazing violinist who played with enough passion and verve that he had enthusiastic listeners who stopped to applaud even in the midst of the madness in Grand Central Station at rush hour.  I've seen plenty of other musicians, too -- everything from Julliard students who want to earn a few extra dollars while they practice, to men on steel drums, groups with Andean flutes, jazz ensembles, old timers with accordians... the list goes on and on.  I've seen singers in all shapes, sizes and talent levels: well rehearsed a capella groups, vocalists with mikes and synthesizers (and CDs for sale), and plenty of beggers who literally sing for their supper ("Amazing Grace" is always a favorite with the latter).  I'm old enough that I even remember the preponderance of break dancers (what fun!) in the early and mid 80's.  Jugglers?  Yup, seen plenty of those, too.   But until recently, I had never seen a group of guys perform an amazing gymnastics routine in a moving subway car.  I was absolutely astounded at the work and diligent practice that must have gone into perfecting their act - so much so that I gave them a $20 bill for their efforts - something that I never usually do.  Want to be astounded yourself?  Check them out on YouTube.

Note: A version of this post is included in the anthology Songs of Ourselves, published by Blue Heron Book Works.

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