The Street Performers Of Covent Gardens Market

Our London apartment is in the Covent Gardens neighborhood, just off the Strand. It’s part of old London, centrally located and within walking distance of just about anywhere you’d want to go.

003The heart of Covent Gardens is the Covent Gardens Market. At one time it was a large food market; now it’s ringed by high-end shops, with food, antiques, and crafts sold from little stands in the market building. It’s also a place where you can easily find some talented street performers — be they jugglers, or magicians, or acrobats.

The performers put on their acts in the market building and in the surrounding squares, which form natural open-air theaters. Today Richard and I watched a guy balancing on a board who juggled two knives while also juggling and eating an apple. When his act was completed, we moved a few feet away, where another street performer balanced on a rope while tossing his hat from his foot to his head, then mounted a unicycle, road it back and forth on the rope, and juggled some knives before dismounting. Both performers kept up a snappy patter with some vintage jokes, involved members of the audience in their shows, and made heartfelt pleas for contributions when the act was ending.

Vaudeville isn’t dead, it’s just moved east to central London.

Trying To Make Juggling Exciting

Apparently there’s a “sport” called “combat juggling.”  Who would have guessed?  But the video above suggests it is so.

I’m sure the participants in these contests are fine athletes, excellent jugglers, etc., but there is just something comical about guys juggling Indian clubs, running around an indoor field, trying to knock down the opposing team’s Indian clubs.  How can you take the sport seriously?

In my view, there should be a rule that any form of “entertainment” that was once featured in a vaudeville-type act on The Ed Sullivan Show should be barred forever from “sport” status.  That way, we can be spared the spectacle of “combat pie plate spinning,” “combat ventriloquism,” and “combat Topo Gigio.”