Sunday, February 18, 2018

#122 Make Money As A Street Performer

Once, I came face to face with a gator. I barely escaped with my life.

While wandering around the French Quarter on a sunny Ash Wednesday afternoon back in 2010, my road trip buddy Michelle and I started to feel some hunger pains. We were so enthralled with everything that is the French Quarter that we did not realize how hungry we were until we started feeling faint. We needed sustenance. My knees were starting to tremble and my stomach was certainly not happy with me.

We started searching for an awesome hole in the wall bar with some great Cajun/Creole cuisine. We found ourselves back on Decatur Street. Ahead of us were two younger kids standing outside the Walgreen's tap dancing while a crowd of admirers watched their moves. Curious, Michelle and I moved closer to get a better look at the preteen versions of Cab Calloway and Bojangles.

Music and Dance are such a vital element in the culture of NOLA.

A Holiday Inn in NOLA. Loved this mural! 
I remember feeling dumbfounded while watching them dance. I knew I had heard the sound of tap shoes but these young fellows were wearing sneakers. How could that be? I began scrutinizing their feet intently. All of a sudden I found myself smiling while feeling very impressed.

Their tap shoes were definitely sneakers. The tap sound came from the crushed soda cans they had tied to the bottom of them. How inventive was that? These boys were my heroes. This was the coolest thing ever.

I mention to Michelle that when I was younger, I took tap dancing for many years. I still had my shoes stored in the attic. Naturally they were too small for me now but I still had them. These two street artists gave me the best idea ever though. I informed Michelle that when I got home, I was going to make my own tap shoes just like the ones boys were sporting. My kids were just going to love hearing that on the kitchen floor everyday I laughed.

Michelle's face lit up. She turned to me, smiled and suggested I go dance with them. I immediately declined. I told her I didn't want to cramp their style. These boys were on fire. They were truly talented. She ignored me and walked up to the older boy. I overheard her telling him that if they allowed me to dance with them she would give them $5.00. The young man flashed a big smile and laughed as he took her up on her offer. Sighs.

Apprehensive, shy and a little terrified, I walked over to the older boy. An hour ago I was dancing for a drummer in the middle of the square and wasn't the least bit timid. What was so different about dancing now? I had no idea but this is me. This is genuinely me. One minute I give zero f@cks about anything and am living life to the fullest and the next minute I turn into this shy little toddler. I don't even understand it.

I think Decatur was my fav NOLA Street! 

Trying to comprehend and make sense of my personality gives me a headache. I gave up on that quest a long time ago. It was for the best. Now I just flow with whatever side of my personality decides to show up moment to moment. It makes for an interesting life and I do enjoy interesting stuff, most of the time. Back to the story though.

I walked over to the older boy and asked him to show me his moves. He did his thing. I replicated him although it was a little harder for me to do in my snow boots. (Spontaneous road trip. Did not plan footwear properly. ) He did another tap sequence. I copied it. Not gonna lie. I was Jurassic Park in snow boots but once I got my groove going, my moves became less T-Rex and more Lord of the Dance. Okay, that may be an exaggeration. Let's just say I was doing alright.

Practicing for the dance. I refused to let go of my giant alcohol slushie! 
Another crowd began to form around us. My dance partner looked over at me and smiled. Together we began our dance. People started throwing some money in their little bucket. Someone even threw a dollar in there. I felt myself smiling.

I am not sure if the people were throwing pity money into the bucket because I was dancing with these young fellas or if they genuinely enjoyed our performance. It didn't matter. We were making cash yo! This was too awesome and I was having a total blast. I didn't even trip and fall.

Once my partner and I finished up our dance, Michelle gave the boys their money. They were so thrilled and appreciative. They informed her it was their biggest tip of the day. She told them it was well worth it. I thanked the boys for allowing me to perform with them. They were really sweet kids with awesome personalities. We gave each other some high fives before parting ways.

A Rag Tag Band near Decatur. The French Quarter is gypsy magic!

I was so in love with everything about this trip to NOLA. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected it to be as amazing as it was considering we did not plan a single thing. Maybe that was the key though. There was no planning involved. We just got in the car and went.

Every year around Mardi Gras I find myself thinking about those two boys as well as many of the other characters we encountered on our trip to New Orleans. I hope they are all living happy lives. I wish nothing but the best for all of them. Yet another Bucket List goal was accomplished in the beautifully haunted city of New Orleans.


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