Well it seems I arrived in Toronto just in time for Buskerfest. I don’t think I could have come up with a better way to spend my first weekend in the city if I’d tried. The city invited street performers from all over the world to come take over Yonge Street, and that’s exactly what happened. I saw a fire-breather from the Netherlands who made puffs of flame burst from his hand when he blew kisses to the crowd. There was an acrobatic couple from Australia whose final act was to have the woman stand on the man’s head while the two of them simultaneously juggled flaming torches. A British couple set up a Victorian-style sideshow complete with a cabinet of curiosities and a performance entitled ‘Acts of Wanton Stupidity’. How wanton, you ask? This wanton:
I stumbled upon Buskerfest on Friday afternoon, when I meant to be running errands downtown. Tired from the effort of unpacking and previous errands, I only lasted a few hours. On Saturday, I packed a backpack of food and water and did nothing but take in the shows: magicians, acrobats, jugglers, living statues, and in the evening a massive combined performance in which all the pyro-enthusiasts among the buskers put on the aptly named ‘Fire Show’.
Several of the buskers this past weekend pointed out to audiences the unique nature of this sort of performance: a cultural installation, open to everyone and anyone. Nobody paid the buskers to be there, or forced the audience to stay, or even to pay. I find that I tend to agree. It may not be ‘high culture’ or what-have-you, but it is important culture nonetheless. I love that the artist and the audience are on the same level where busking is involved. I love the way the two interact directly with one another in order to make the art happen.
In this particular instance, I love that I’m in a city that invited so many world-class artists to come together in one place to fill a city with magic. I also love that the whole thing was done in support of Epilepsy Toronto, so that funds were raised for a worthwhile cause in the community at the same time.
And finally, I love that I discovered the whole thing by walking down a street and encountering a trio of fantastical dinosaurs and their equally fantastical herder meandering happily through a crowd of onlookers.