Last summer, I started a princess party company. It was fun and picking up steam fast, but in February, I was going through so many other things (and had a full time job), so I gave the company to my business partner. It was definitely the right call to let it go (HAH), but lately, I have been missing just glitzing up and going out.
So I decided to pick up a new Elsa costume and go busking. Because why not? I get a performing fix, kids get to see their favorite character, and hey, I can pay for more costumes this way. (Working on a 7 of 9 get up for September!)
Busking is quite a bit different than going to a planned, structured children’s party, though. Here’s a few lessons I’ve learned.
1. People are, in fact, usually good.
I was surprised by who would approach me in costume. Some kids, some adults, some randos who didn’t want a photo. Mostly older people who seemed to just appreciate I was something beautiful.
2. Having an established character simplifies a lot.
Most people aren’t trying to figure me and my shtick out. I’m a somewhat known quantity which makes me safer to approach for most people.
3. It’s as good for me as it is for them.
Walking up to the corner I’d chosen, I felt a few nerves, but the big, goofy smile on my face was genuine. Standing up there greeting strangers, I was vulnerable. I could be rejected. I was rejected often. Because I was – I am – out of the ordinary, I make people uncomfortable.
4. So many connections = so much exhaustion.
Even as an extrovert in flats, experiencing so many moments of connection so rapidly was surprisingly exhausting. 70 minutes of busking on a Tuesday evening and $40 later (Woo! My costume will pay for itself in no time!), I was having trouble balancing on my box. Just a smile, wave, and “Good evening!” performed 100 times is an experiment in energy management.
5. Eat/drink right before you go.
This should have gone without saying, considering how many children’s parties I’ve done. During my princess party days, I might as well have been carrying around a “Powered by Starbucks” sign with as many Frappuccinos as I chugged to stay continually Disney-levels of perky.
6. A fork will pull money out of that vase you thought was such a good idea.
7. By simply being, I am a challenge.
There were quite a few people who looked openly disturbed when I attempted to engage them. I’d make eye contact, smile, and bow to them, and they’d quickly look away and walk faster. My demeanor scared them. My openness challenged them to interact with me, to remove themselves from their reality for a moment to be fully present. If you’re not used to that, it can be a terrifying prospect.
8. I need more of a challenge.
I didn’t expect the whole experience of busking to be so… easy. Don’t get me wrong. Boldness is a second language for me, but the idea of jut standing on a corner and drawing the attention of hundreds of strangers? Even I balk at that. That said, I’ve spent a lot of time as Elsa, and it felt remarkably comfortable. I want more of an opportunity for vulnerability than that.
Who knows what character I’ll play next?
P.S. I made this video for a friend’s kiddo. If you’d like one, drop me a line. I love this shit.