The Economic Adventures of a Transborder Street Musician

Heading down south for the big Pesos.

Going clean December 4, 2007

Filed under: the people — ramonalvarado @ 12:41 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Today as I walked  towards my spot I saw the guy that makes the little scorpions out of wire cleaning some windows at the main strip in downtown Juarez. I guess it was an extra gig for him, I said hi and he returned the greeting. He’s about the only one that I’ve gotten to know in this area and when I talked to him he told me a few things about the main strip that corroborated my gut feeling. Ever since I started playing in downtown Juarez I’ve thought about playing in this street because there is a lot of traffic and many tourist walk through it, yet it has a very dirty vibe to it that just doesn’t make me feel welcomed. It’s not dirty like in kinky dirty but actually just dirty, dusty and not only does it have many people asking for money but apparently they have a bad attitude about it too according to Mr. Alacran. So, even though I’ve been thinking about changing my spot, I think I’m gonna stick with it for a while. It happens to be right outside a museum, there aren’t any people asking for money there and I get to see more of the local dynamic towards buskers. Since I have started playing I informed myself of many busking tips and tricks yet I was a little skeptical about how they would work in a northern Mexican context. One of the tips that I read about was about trying to look neater in appearance than the people asking for money and of course it makes absolute sense, but then I thought about the fact that people in this region seem to think that if you look in good shape you don’t need the help. And I know it sounds funny from me to say help, but I think that many people view their tip as that, as help, not as a nice tip for a nice artsy colour in their usually gloomy day, but as a charitable help.  Even if such was the case I wasn’t about to start exploiting a run-down image just for the sake of it either, but I do wear some torn jeans from time to time and even a neglected beard because that’s just the way I  dress and keep myself. Anyway, for the sake of experimentation I’ve stopped wearing torn jeans when I’m going to play and it seems like it is working. It has only increased by three or four dollars but it seems awfully coincidental that it has increased exactly the days that I haven’t worn those jeans, so I’m attributing the rise to my pants and my preppy sweater! Today I also got invited to join a band as a vocalist by three 16/17 years old kids, they even played me a song of theirs and gave me a CD for me to see if maybe I would be interested…I think I’ll pass this time.


Day 7

Amount of money made: $7.89

Border crossing: .65c

Time played: 1h, 40m

Actual gain: $7.24


One Response to “Going clean”

  1. Saw Lady Says:

    Hi Ramon,

    I enjoyed your post. About what to wear – here in NYC buskers who wear costumes tend to attract more attention. Personally I don’t like wearing a fancy costume, so I only do it for special occasions, such as a holiday (like, Halloween I dress up as a witch). I guess it’s mostly bands or duos that wear costumes in the subway.
    Do you think wearing a Santa’s hat would work in Mexico? Many musicians in the subway wear that in December.
    All the best,
    Saw Lady

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