Page 24                                             Spring 1987


The Ramblas:

A Street Juggler's Steinway Grand

by Robin Brisker


Picture yourself entering the lobby of a very fancy hotel. It's reeking of idleness. People are cleaning their fingernails with hotel post cards and reading yesterday's newspaper. You notice there is a Steinway grand piano sitting all alone in the middle of the room.


You wonder if permission from hotel authority might be in order. But the piano whispers your name. You approach the bench, take a seat and begin to play.


Music fills the air where there was once only cigar smoke. The lobby is swimming in sweet waves of melodies. You are happy you decided to play. The people in the lobby are grateful and the hotel is, of course, very pleased that everyone is so elated.


And so much for thinking you would need permission first...


Now imagine you are in Barcelona, Spain. The afternoon sun is shining down on the ramblas, the very famous walking street crowded night and day with people. The ramblas bisects about 30 blocks of downtown Barcelona, flanked with restaurants, cafes, flower shops, news stands, book stores and black-marketeers. But more than anything else, the ramblas is an overflowing river of people.

To a street juggler, the ramblas is a Steinway grand in a silent hotel lobby.


A street performer's paradise - crowds upon crowds of people starved for entertainment. The only problem is that perhaps you need permission first. But who would you ask, anyway?


So a voice in your head says you should take advantage of this situation and do a show. You begin.

Years of experience in street performing has taught you the best way to get the attention of a large flow of people is to do nothing. Put a juggling ball on the back side of your hand, extend your arm and stare intensely at the ball. Do nothing else whatsoever until enough people have stopped to see what you are up to.


In no time at all, a small crowd has formed. Small crowds generate larger ones and soon a circle of people surround you, making a perfect stage with you as the center of attraction. It's showtime! A little juggling, a little mime, a little interaction with the audience... You now have a hundred new friends for life! A member of the crowd has some fresh fruit sitting atop her bundles. She doesn't mind as you grab a peach. You close the show with the juggling-while-eating-a-peach bit and dedicate it to the generous woman.


It's time now for the customary bows and the even more customary passing of the hat. You can't help but think what a great day it has been.


The police arrive. End of great day.


The grey uniformed men stop the show like a bad scratch on your favorite record. They restrict you from collecting any donations from your new best friends. And to make matters worse, they want to see your passport - the one you left in your hotel room. The only papers you have to show them are the last two day's editions of the "International Herald Tribune."

"You start to do the very thing that got you in jail in the first place - you juggle for the children outside even though all they can see is your arms. "

"You start to do the very thing that got you in jail in the first place - you juggle for the children outside even though all they can see is your arms. "

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