Central Park (April 18th)

All the bandI met up with Jesse and the rest of the band on the poet’s walk in Central Park at noon just off of 68th St. on the east side.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, in the 80s with the sun pouring down; nice and dry with the occasional breeze.

Tin Pan has been playing all week in the park from 12-3pm near the Alice statues off of the boat pond (near 75th) but they moved down to the higher trafficked poet’s walk again today.

Evita Arce and Nathan Bugh arrived about halfway through the second tune, set their stuff down and Evita and I started dancing and a crowd of teenagers immediately gathered to watch.  They were probably on a school trip to the MET or something but it was great.  A couple of them even got out and danced with us for a few bars.  Cameras were out everywhere and it was a fun mid-tempo tune to jam out to.  The crowd was so large that Jesse asked them to pull in tighter so that people could still get past.  Unfortunately, being mostly kids that crowd didn’t leave much of a tip as they wandered off down the path.

This was my first time out busking with Tin Pan and it was such a great experience.  Evita had some advice on how to manage the endurance aspect of dancing for long gigs on the street; sitting out the first chorus, sitting out when someone is singing, etc.  It also helped that Nathan was there and we traded off dancing solo, partnered with Evita and taking a song off here and there.

Nathan and I did a really tight solo number together based off of the shim sham where we spotlighted on breaks and varied it up a bit.  It was such a good feeling to be out there performing with live music behind us and an interested crowd.  Nathan is exceptionally creative and well-rounded in his solo jazz and I can’t wait to work with him more.

Nathan Bugh & Carl Nelson

This was my first performance-for-money type gig and it definitely got me thinking about how I held myself as a performer (and less about what I was thinking as a dancer).  It is different to be in front of a crowd of non-dancers and be performing rather than just social dancing.  The way you present and interact with a crowd of people who don’t know you and don’t understand the dance puts a different sort of pressure on you.  It forced me to simplify my movement and I constantly reminded myself that my dancing wasn’t just part of a social event (say as it can be at Banjo Jims) but a performance.  The audience is just as much a part of the performance as the band and the dancers and can’t be an afterthought.

It was a wonderful gig and definitely a learning experience.  I can’t wait to be out busking with Tin Pan again.

Have you busked?  What was it like for you?  Let me know.  Comment.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hey Carl, I’m so glad that your first attempt at busking was a good one.
    I did it for a number of years in Montreal Metros and parks…Singing and playing music, not dancing; but I’m sure the experience was probably the same.
    Sure lots of people pass you by, and some try not to look as they don’t want to feel obliged to give you something (and no dear, I wasn’t one of those people who held a harmonica to my mouth inhaling and exhaling…I wasn’t too bad) but once in a while we would get a crowd….people sticking around, clapping their hands and yes, SMILING. We did make a good deal of money, but I think the best thing was to know that we put a smile on someone’s face after a very long and stressful day at work. In the end, that is was made it all worth while. Well, ok, to be honest, the money was probably what made it all worth while as it put food on our table; however, the smiles fed our souls…or soles in your case. 🙂

    Nice read.

  2. […] large crowd. Thank you dancers. For one dancer’s perspective please check out Carl’s posting on his blog. […]

  3. That’s great! Will you be doing this regularly now?

  4. It depends on my work schedule and their performance schedule really. I really want to but these days I’m working a lot when they have been playing. Perhaps when my job slows down a bit I’ll get to do it more.

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