Busking in NYC
What Happens When Musical Saw Player, Busker, and Street Performer Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz Plays in the Subway
I started busking as a musical saw player in 1993.
Prior to that I spent a few months busking as a tap-dancer and street performer on the streets of New York City, but though I enjoyed it, I didn’t last very long as a street performer tap dancing, because I was a trainee with the Martha Graham Dance Company at the time, and the physicality of busking as a dancer on top of taking dance classes and participating in dance rehearsals was just too tiring.
I had a 1.5 feet by 3 feet board (that he Martha Graham Company’s custodian gave me – it was part of the old set of ‘Primitive Mysteries’, which was replaced) which I took to various streets to tap-dance on.
A favorite memory of mine from those days is the day I busked by a Broadway theater: the actors inside the theater threw coins from their dressing room’s window down to me. A guy passing by motioned at the falling coins and said to me: “Pennies from Heaven” (which is also a name of a song and a movie).
A year or two later I discovered the musical saw. I first started busking as a musician on the streets around the theater district in New York City, but when winter came I decided to venture down into the subway. Once I did that – I was totally hooked on the phenomenal acoustics in the subway, and I never wanted to go back to playing above ground.
Many people erroneously think that buskers are homeless, or that buskers perform in the subway because they are not good enough to get gigs anywhere else. I know many, many of the buskers in New York City and none of them is homeless (one actually was homeless, but he isn’t any more).
And all buskers also have “regular” gigs on the so called “legitimate” stage. I’ve played at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center, and I keep doing such gigs. But at the same time, I also play in the subway. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Actually – I’m addicted to playing in the subway
I love busking in the subway because of the people. The music becomes an excuse for communication.
They say that if you stand in one place in New York City long enough, eventually every New Yorker would pass by you.
In my blog I try to present a slice of New York City life from a different angle. Everything in this blog really happened, and the people are real.
I hope you enjoy my blog.
If you happen to see me busking in the subway – come and say ‘hi’!