When you’re riding the subway to work, which words do you find most ominous? “Slight delay?” “Sick passenger?”
How about “It’s showtime?”
I recently encountered a dance group while riding the A train downtown. After the five wiry teens proclaimed “It’s showtime, ladies and gentleman!”, the music was cranked up and the passengers in the way cleared out. When a man refused to give up his seat, one of the crew stood over him and said “How about showing us some respect?” The man got up.
During the performance, I gazed around at my fellow passengers. Some buried their heads in their newspapers and electronic devices. Others looked up at the performers with a frozen grin. You know, the “if-I-smile-at-you-guys-maybe-you-won’t-kick-me-in-the-face” look?
The dancers had some talent. But do you really want blasting music and somersaulting teens on your commute? Do you crave seeing someone twerk on your way to work?
After they finished, there was enthusiastic clapping– by them. They went around collecting money (mostly from tourists) and moved on.
When they left, I asked the gray-haired woman seated beside me what she thought. “They were certainly limber, but I was afraid they were going to bang into me,” she said. “Also, one of the dancer’s pants were so far down his tush was in my face.”
I hear you, grandma. Yes, they had some moves, but shouldn’t street performers strut their stuff somewhere else? Say, I don’t know, the street?
To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, your right to swing your feet ends where the tip of my nose begins. When will the city crack down on this? After one of these reckless dancers kicks someone who works in the mayor’s office in the head?
To those who say it’s part of NYC living, that if you want peace and quiet move to Kansas, I agree. But there’s a difference between choosing to stop and watch your choice of street performers and having it imposed on you while trapped underground.
Whatever you think of these dancers, the subways don’t belong to them, anymore than to the bellowing preachers or parade of panhandlers who try to shake us down. It’s public transportation, and it’s obligation is to its riders__period.
Respect them? How about respecting us?