The Royal Busking weekend in the Queenstown, Day 3

With the success of the night pitch and the failure of the day pitch, I decided not to bother going in town with the daylight. Instead I hiked up a pleasant hill to the top of the Gondolas overlooking the city (after a confused detour in the wrong direction). Most of the photographs are total rubbish.

When I headed back into town to try the same pitch I’d an inkling the fire poi guy might be back. I knew if he was that would likely hurt my income. Lounging around at the wharf was Chris, the Vancouverite, and soon after, two Melbourners joined us as well. They awaited Teo and Kate and their poi/kerosene. So followed a strange, enjoyable but thoroughly unprofessional pitch. The two Aussie girls twirled their blue ribbons and poi almost idly while looking at the floor, creating a horrible – “Friends hanging out” vibe which I’m sure chased people off. In fact my hosts’ flatmates Rachel and Cassie confirmed how odd it was. My request list lived in the hands of one of the Melbourne girls or with Chris; people looked sidelong and suspicious especially from benches down the way.

Not that I felt displeased. I’d sufficient income, certainly, from the night before so I felt alright about not earning much. I enjoyed their company, but I certainly would have preferred either more professionalism or distance – across the way perhaps, out of the light, not right beside me. One of the girls, with a great voice, sang along to some of my songs as she chose them – this was great fun especially when I’d given up on the situation, resigned myself to their presence. That same girl ended up tipping me and refused her portion of the tips we’d received. A good example of the bad vibe occurred when a middle aged couple stayed for some oldies, interest piqued by Let it Be. All the while my cohort twirled her blue pompom like thing absently to the side, not really looking at them, though singing very well. I could see our audience growing uncomfortable with her in sight until they focused their eyes entirely on me. We treated them to Hallelujah while they chose another song – which they danced slowly to. When they tipped the man looked up at me for a smile and face turned deliberately to keep her out of view. I think most wouldn’t brave such an awkward situation.

Cassie actually used the same mobile provider I’d mistakenly bought the sim for, and she came by to “tip” me the twenty dollar cost. Right as she arrived so too did Teo and his kerosene. Chris jumped down from the parapet and assembled his staff. they congregated to soak the ends and the poi, and just as they ignited them all I started to sing Run, which I’d learned specifically for the possibility of joining with the fire spinners again – the chorus runs “Light up, light up, as if you have a choice…” I followed this with what I felt to be the appropriate slow mournful choice of songs. One man came by and borrowed the staff, now unlit as Chris didn’t feel right using too much kerosene (wonderfully considerate he didn’t take a coin from our earnings, though it’s true we were not tipped during the three songs he spun for). I somewhat wish I’d filmed it. Two fires whirling about with a singer in the spill of a light fronting the dark water. Like a mirage.

Towards the end Teo requested I sing faster songs to suit his style better. Our last six or seven seemed nearly choreographed, as we finished (singing/flames dying) together, he danced about in rhythm, and I chose more songs with fire imagery: Relax, Take it Easy for instance has “It’s as if I’m playing with fire…” in it’s postchorus. Just before we finished, a tipsy young man flanked by girls asked to borrow my guitar to play Wonderwall on seeing it on my list. He tipped me generously for his own song. I suppose I did do the singing for it. Teo, Kate, Chris and I decided to finish after we set to talking awhile on websites, the nature and psychology of busking, how to be professional, where to go – information I have become a fountain of. It felt nice to have allies, friends of my age and temperament, and I felt almost lured into staying more nights. We packed up and split the earnings down the middle again – what with the paltriness of the take I didn’t quibble about the coins I’d made in the hour before they arrived – which I think was actually more than half of it. This time, I took the note.


In the gift shop by the Gondola.

Earnings: ~33.00 NZD
Song of the Day: Run – Snow Patrol

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