One thing you can't miss on the Tube is the buskers, that is, the people who perform music for money. There are two kinds: the in-station kind, who stand in station passageways, hoping to get something from the passing people, and the train (or "bloody annoying") kind, who move from carriage to carriage serenading the helpless passengers with their dubious skills. Some stations have "busking hotspots", where there are always different people playing; I think there's some sort of rota system that they've arranged, or possibly forced each other to agree to by threat of main force.

If you use the system enough, you may well get to recognise some of the regulars:

  • The drumming guy: A rasta bloke who stands in the long passage between the Northern Line and Central Line at Bank Station, beating out a monotonous rhythm on a drum.
  • The accordion kids: Three young kids - I think they're from somewhere in Eastern Europe - who ride the Circle Line and Piccadilly Line, playing accordions, either alone or together. Until recently I only knew of the two small boys (Rolf would be proud) but they also seem to have an even smaller sister who also does the same thing
  • The protest singers: A couple of homeless guys - I've seen them a few times on the Hammersmith and City Line but I've heard of them elsewhere as well. They play their own songs including the rather stupid "These are the stations on the Hammersmith and City" of which I imagine there is more than one version and, the actually very good "If you can't have a shave in a toilet (where can you have a shave?)". Many of their numbers are political.
  • The cats: A sign at Bond Street warns passengers not to give money to the buskers "who persistently perform at this station dressed as 'cats' ". (I have regularly seen the Cat busker play a trumpet at Liverpool Street Station - but I thought he was one person -- AlexMcLintock )

Anyone else?

Many buskers are illegal, but there are licensed buskers at selected stations - usually in corridors rather than at platform level. The licensed pitches can be recognised from the 'Carling Live' logos on the corridor floor. See TfL for the official position and Busking on the Underground for more information.

Last edited 2008-11-13 23:31:51 (version 10; diff). List all versions.