We’ve heard whispers that street performers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure pitches in central London, but earlier this month, Streets Got Talent saw how the dearth of space is causing performers to clash.
Just after 5pm on a Friday outside the Urban Outfitters store in Covent Garden, a 19-year-old man called Connor unpacked his amp, untangled his microphone and geared up to entertain the crowds gathered outside the neighbouring pub and those hanging nearby the store.
No one knew what to expect, until Connor turned on his mic and started performing…
Pretty unusual don’t you think? His unmistakable talent drew over fifty people within a matter of moments. His hat began filling up with gold and silver coins and the crowds stared on in amazement as the hiccuped, staccato sounds fell from his mouth.
But Connor’s set was abruptly cut by another performer who objected to him “wading in on his pitch”.
The man, who was a referred to himself as a “folk singer”, argued that he “had to make a living and feed his cat” and pressured Connor to abandon his set.
Unwilling to give in, Connor hyped up the crowd, appealing for them to cheer if they were enjoying his set, which they duly did. The folk guitarist, who had a ginger tom nestled around his neck, refused to bay to the pleas and within moments, Connor had reluctantly turned off his amp and the crowds began to boo loudly.
I caught up with Connor and asked if this had happened to him before. He said: “It’s getting harder and harder to perform out here. The number of pitches is shrinking every week.”
Connor said how he had been beat boxing for eight years, but street performing for only two. He also told me that despite being a squatter, beatboxing on the streets – or “street boxing” – was his full-time job and went into detail about how he made a name for himself on the underground and how hard it was to make a living.
He had to rush off soon after our brief chat, and while I gave him my contact details, he’s yet to get in contact.
C0nnor’s story illustrates just how difficult it is to perform on the streets of Zone 1.
Do you know Connor? Are you a street performer and had a similar run-in? Is it getting harder to busk in Zone 1? Get in touch with us here at Streets Got Talent, we’d love to share your story!