Busking Chicago

topic posted Tue, May 30, 2006 - 6:50 AM by  Swin D. Lure
Ok so I hit the streets of Chicago on Saturday. I performed magic and also made balloon art for the kids. I was there from about 10am until 4 pm. My hat was good for most of the day. That means tips were good. Twice I gave tips back. Why you ask? Simple I always give back loose change. 1 If is all a person can give then they need it more than I do. 2 kids should never pay me there allowance. Its not a kids job to pay the magician its a parents job to do that kind of thing. 3. Street performers are not panhandlers. We give you a show and ask you to pay with a tip of folding $. In my street show I tell you 3 times that I will be passing the hat at the end. 4. If other people think that its on to dump in loose change then every one will!

So cheep guy number 1 dropped in 20 cents. I stopped him and said Thanks but if 20 cents is all you got I cant take your last dime. He said no no thats my token. I said yea thats the kind of token you give to a bum take it back and go find one.

The other cheep guy was clearly from India he drops in a dime. He was a grandpa he had 6 kids with him and he checked the time with his Rolex. I looked him in the eye and said sir looks like you have a lot on kids to feed here get them something nice , its on me and gave him his dime back. He looked at the dime and said I cant buy anything with this. Neither can I Sir. He opened his wallet and gave each one of the kids a dollar to give to me. Thank you Sir. Worked all day with no other problems. Even had the one of the cops on bike patrol check out the show. Talked to park secretary 3 or 4 times nice people. Took Sunday off and went back out on Monday. I wanted to work from about 12 noon to 8 or 9pm to see the crowed change .The tips were good but out of the blue a cop stops the show and tells me I need a permit. Good news I have one I paid my $50 to the City of Chicago so I can give away a show for free and you pay me only if you want too.

Cop says nope I need a park permit. I have to talk to the Chicago Park District about that and he tells me they will not give me a permit. Now to his credit he lets me finish the show. But there is a problem. Its a public park. I have this freedom of speech thing in my head. So tomorrow I call the parks department I will ask about a permit and then I call my lawyers and yes I do have lawyers.
Any other storys of Busking Chicago ?
posted by:
Swin D. Lure
  • Re: Busking Chicago

    Tue, May 30, 2006 - 8:52 AM
    Yes, go Google News with "chicaco" and "street performers" and you'll find a whole dust-up over this issue. They've recently started shutting down performers in Chi.
    • Re: Busking Chicago

      Tue, May 30, 2006 - 8:56 AM
      Hmmm...most of the news stories have disappeared by now. Try this:

      Anyhow, the buskers lost against the city due to claims that too many performers played bad or annoying music.
      • Re: Busking Chicago

        Tue, May 30, 2006 - 2:27 PM
        Yep I have been following the news for the last year on this. So I called the law office today and asked them to do a little home work on it. I should hear from them soon then I will take it out to the streets again and see what happens.
      • Re: Busking Chicago

        Tue, May 30, 2006 - 8:47 PM
        Playing bad or annoying music is no excuse,
        it amounts to censorship to determine the freedom to perform by another's standard of taste.
        • Re: Busking Chicago

          Tue, May 30, 2006 - 10:38 PM
          The problem was the rights of the apartment dwellers VS the rights of the drummers.
          New ordinance passed in Chicago in February 2006

          * Street performer ban from Delaware-to-Superior on North Michigan Ave.
          * License fee for street performer increased to $75.
          * Volume limited average conversational level could be heard 100 feet away, either horizontally or vertically.
          * First offense raised to $300. License revoked for on-year for three violations in a one-year period.
          • Unsu...

            Re: Busking Chicago

            Wed, May 31, 2006 - 6:38 AM
            A related case in England had a couple of muses having to play a song in court. The charge was that banging on bongo drums and strumming an evidently out-of-tune guitar was not music....rather noise pollution. The court ruled in favor of the muses.
            • Re: Busking Chicago

              Wed, May 31, 2006 - 8:22 AM
              Well you clearly can not be heard more than a hundred feet away.
              I wonder if you can wrangle a variance because you
              maintain fidelity with the thrust and spirit of the law.

              you could say that bad musicians are afraid to set-up next to a real performer, ask dave, he will never set-up next to
              a real performer. ;-)

              Dont bother argueing with the local beat cops.
              Go to the city council meetings and work to implement real legislative change.
              M.T. may, if we are lucky, tell the tale about how San Francisco had one performer fight to get our circle.

              it is my opinion that every citizen has one vote, just because you own property does not give you a
              "higher quality" vote than a citizen without property.
              In fact the arguement could be made that you provide a low impact (read that as no-cost to taxpayers)
              enhancement to tourists and business people experience of the city. You make the trip to Chi-Town memorable and
              ensure the increase in tourism. This lowers the tax burden to the property owner and increases the services the city is able to offer to said property owner (like say lowered parking fines, less potholes in the street, more street cleaning)
              Greatly increasing the quality of life.
              Speaking of quality of life. You make people happy and this has a positive ripple effect upon the
              collective psychology of the city. One smile makes 100 smiles so if you make 1000 smiles you easwe the stress of day to day living in the city. Happy tourist spend more and return to spend even more.

              i have been working on this type of thinking for a while and would apprecite any and akll comment, especially if you see some weakness in my arguements. I call it the "Culture of Celebration" and I intend to try to change the thinking of city hall with it.
              Property owners do not have the right to dictate what an industry does to improve the city they live in. Not when more citizens enjoy and enhance thier own life with the fruits of that industry.
              • Re: Busking Chicago

                Wed, May 31, 2006 - 12:53 PM
                I have some more "culture of celebration" type thoughts.

                The home owner that is impacted by the loud musician or sidewalk blockage and the storeowner who loses traffic due to a street performer being more interesting then his fucking stupid products.

                both of these normally very vocal and politcally "heavier" (meaning carrying more weight at city hall) people could be viewed as seeking to injure the fiscal and mental health of the city through selfish and narrow minded knee jerk reaction. Thusly enacting negative fiscal impact upon thier family neighbors themselves and their churches, schools, police and fire services (and causing a hurricane in thailand).

                yes we want to mitigate the lessening of quality of life to these demonstrably selfish and short sighted residents and taxpayers, but they can not be alowed to injure the ability of the city to provide beneficial services to tourists and residents. Especially in light of the fact that street preformers(And in my arguement I include theaters, night clubs and outlets for nightlife enhancement) not only do not cost the city money, but draw visitors into the city, making money and raising the civic value of properties and goods and services. In the case of street performance and small theater and nightclubs, the money generated as profit to artists and owners usually stays within the city (as opposed to large corporate tourist conglomerates that immediatly bleed the money out of the city to corporate headquarters)
                So even though the overall cash amount can be "small" in corporate numbers, almost all of it (And we are not talking small money, we are talking tens of millions on a good weekend) goes immediately back into the small business economy.

                Just put this inot perspective, let us say you are in SF's nightclub district. Which is small in comparison to other 'international' cities.
                You have 15 clubs in a 10 block area, there might be a draw of 15,000 people each person with a paycheck filled wallet of let say 300$ a piece. The idea is to get the casual visitor to leave most of that money here in sf not take it back to fremont or sacramento.
                there has to be a continuity of celebration, you do not want to wake him/her out of thier revelry and thereby start them thinking about going home.

                Now think about the permanent residents there might be 500 people in the same district. Most of those 500 love the idea of living in a "cool" district in an internationally renowned metropolis. But 50 of these people might not like the idea or the 'sound of celebration" for whatever small minded reason.
                We have to honor the fact that they are "permanent residents" but we should not throttle the expression of art / self especially when it is directly tied to the fiscal and mental health of 1.7 _THOUSAND_ times this small mob of naysayers.

                Once again we have to ask "How many votes does one person get?"
                • Re: Busking Chicago

                  Wed, May 31, 2006 - 1:33 PM
                  You’re preaching to the quire brother. But I don't think that Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) in Chicago is on tribe .net
                  Here is a link on one of the storys about it.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Busking Chicago

                    Thu, June 1, 2006 - 9:10 AM
                    I was giving you some legal tools.
                    I didnt think you wanted me to do your dirty work for you.
                    I guess I could, if you like to complain but not do anything about the problem.
                    If you are impotent, I will do what i can from here *(((smart-ass. ;-)
                    But we have our own forces of evil to battle.

                    It is a five to ten year struggle by the way. I do not know our local Pier 41 story in detail,
                    I am hoping someone will chime in with the facts.

                    The funny thing is that there was a lot of work for a tiny piece of real estate.

                    It is illegal to use amplification in the city, and without it you are easily drowned out. the retail establishments rule the major sidewalks.
                    Which is bad because the biggest tourist attractions are the shopping areas.

                    I am curious Swin De;
                    do you let a line form when twisting balloons, stopping the magic altogether
                    or do you twist a couple then stop making balloons and do your act then resume balloons.
                    I have these friends who just play it by ear, when they need to make money.
                    But it seems that once you start twisting there is no doing magic.
                    • Re: Busking Chicago

                      Thu, June 1, 2006 - 10:53 AM
                      Ok here is the deal I talked with the lawyers today. It looks like the way thing are set up the City can do just about anything they wants. The City has it ordnances the parks department has its Owen set of ordnances and the mayors office can regulate us also.
                      It also looks like there maybe some class action law suits being filled soon. So what does all this mean.. Simple when the cop says move you movie. it also means I need to hook up with some of the people that are working on the law suit.

                      Ps :I was reading about Pier 41 story last week
                      • It must be a joke

                        Thu, June 8, 2006 - 5:59 PM
                        I found this post the other day. any one else see something like it ?

                        STREET PERFORMERS NEEDED to perform a play (comedy). Salary by commission.
                        Can earn $375-$500 per week. E-mail or call

                        I asked what kind of acts they were looking for and I was sent this.

                        It is a 17 page play (comedy).

                        Casting call is being held at Wells Park baseball diamond, corner of Lincoln Ave. & Sunnyside in Chicago. Saturday @ 8 a.m. Take Brown Line El, get off @ Western. Walk 2 blocks south on Lincoln. It is across from the Sulzer Regional Library.

                        It is commission pay, no hard sell, just pass out business cards relating to Direct TV as you perform in downtown Chicago. Pick your own days & hours. If you have any questions, please call me @ (773) 267-3295.

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