The simple joy of street performing


GraphicCo: Sammy Rowe

GraphicCo: Sammy Rowe
GraphicCo: Sammy Rowe

The city is filled with murmurs of tourists and commoners. The streets shuffled with people in and out of shops, until there is a faint stop, and glistening sound of an instrument and a voice coming from ahead

The 16th street mall in Denver, consists of the few, but talented street performers, trying to make a little cash doing what they love on the concrete streets.

Ethan, a street performer on 16th street mall, has been playing saxophone for 25 years and street performing on and off for 10. He doesn’t perform for himself, though, but for the enjoyment of others.

Ethan said he started street performing, because “once upon a time I needed the money.” Now-a-days, he has a stable job and mainly comes out during the holiday season to release tension and give back to others through music.

Denver is a very open city to street performers. There is no permit needed to street perform, unless you have something amplified. “The great thing about Denver, is that they actually encourage street performing with all the pianos,” said Ethan.

With a similar story, Christian, a guitar player on 16th street mall, has been street performing since he was 15. Although he has a stable job, he comes out to play for the fun of it.

Christian lived in NYC before he lived in Denver, and performed in Grand Central station, near the subways coming in from Queens. Christian said, “Denver is very open compared to New York.”

The strip mall with its wide sidewalks and open alleys makes it easy for performers to find a place to catch their audience throughout the day.

Both Ethan and Christian weren’t doing it for the money, but so that other people walking by could enjoy their music. Music is a way to connect to people, and that is the main reason why they play, is to have that small connection between music and man.

Street performing is art, not money. “Keep it alive!” said Ethan about street performing as a whole.

On the cold streets, there is a difference between beggars and choosers. These people are choosing to do what they love, and not begging, doing something that they hate.

Sammy Rowe, Guest Contributor