The Street Performers of Prague
Following the King’s Walk through the streets of Prague and up to the mighty castle, there are few occasions when you won’t be able to hear the crooning of, or see the theater of some of Prague’s prolific street performers. Sometimes Prague-On-Segway likes to scoot this trail to absorb the diversity of, and sometimes lack of, talent of the weird and wonderful street artists. Allegedly (Prague-On-Segway found it difficult to source a link) the Czech government passed a law two years ago allowing for street performers to perform without licenses. And what followed was a flood of the wacky, bizarre, talented and awe-inspiring street artists. Prague-On-Segway is going for a snoop around the town to give you an overview of some of the seasoned traders who make a living from the street.
Musically Prague boasts an array of talented street musicians. As tourists wind their way up the cobbled streets to the castle grounds at the to, one of Prague’s favourite violin connoisseurs serenades your slow ascent to the viewpoint. Romantic, beautiful, harrowing even, with the surrounding architecture you can almost imagine the same route being walked by castle pilgrims hundreds years ago- If, however, you can ignore the invasive selfie-stick orgy that permeates the viewpoints, and the dishearteningly and tactically placed Starbucks at the top.
On Charles bridge the big players on the scene are the guys we’ve pictured below. Veterans of street music, they know how to get smiles and donations by the truck load with their swing and blues renditions. They’re also surprisingly shrewd when it comes to plugging their merchandise. Fluidity of the set ignored, they will promote their CD between every track, making you aware of the range of musical styles that can be found in their repetoire, and most importantly, the price of it. These guys certainly bring some European authenticity back to the bridge, letting your mind wonder how the city may have been in pre-digital age, which is at times can be overwhelmed by the plague of clicking of cameras.
At a few points on your trip you’ll most certainly encounter one of many what we like to call the Levitation Lads. We’ve pictured their act of sorcery below. However after the initial 10 second work-out-what-they’re-doing phase, what is most entertaining about these chaps is the reactions of he crowd. Take a moment to observe people smugly explaining to their friends/partners how such wizardry is possible. Also what will no doubt seem impressive is not necessarily the trick itself, but their ability to sit there for such long periods. Such thoughts draw questions of either the complex urination system they must have piped into their suits, or their Buddhist-like mind control abilities to convince themselves they do not need to use the bathroom. Strangely enough it is logistically more fascinating than the act itself. Prague-On-Segway has woken up early enough on occasion to see behind the veil- which somewhat strips away the magic- a good excuse for you to lie-in in the mornings.
Whilst these routes provide a perfect shoal of fresh tourists streaming by for the performers, it is the old town square which remains the holy grail for most. Their journey could be paralleled to Russell Crowe’s perilous journey for vengeance. Probably with less dead bodies and more broken guitar strings though. And less for death and glory and more for money and respect.
“The Old Town Square is to street performers what the Colosseum was for Gladiators during the Roman Empire.”
Prague-On-Segway shouldn’t choose favourites of this street performance battle ground. However it is hard to deny that nothing gets our wheels spinning more than the two young guys who rattle of 90s dance songs on a keyboard and a DIY Tupperware drum kit. They are wonderful. They draw hoards of feet-tapping tourists, young an old, and Prague-On-Segway challenges you not to move some part of your body when you hear these gladiators hitting their rhythm.
Often challenging the boys from the other side of the square is one of street performances more bizarre acts. Kilt-clad topless Scottish sex-pistol-like punk is, if nothing else, a true showman. His act is about 60% obnoxious music, 30% getting the crowd fired up, and 10% performance. He draws arguably the largest crowd of any street performer in the city, however Prague-On-Segway feels his act is based on anticipation as much as anything else. We’ve seen him put his body through a tennis racket and juggle fire (impressive in fairness), but not much more. He’s the great illusionist of the Prague scene.
Other notable mentions is the excellent keyboard player who wears a horse mask, the reams of gold and silver painted mimes, whose mouthpieces make them shriek like exotic birds to gain attention, and the mullet-ed singer piano virtuoso, who takes requests (nothing a coin tossing crowd likes more!). As for the rest, Prague-On-Segway will let you size-up the warriors yourself. See you next time folks.