I was amazed by the culture of little shows in buses, when I was in the north of Colombia, during last year’s summer. Literally speaking, you can get on a public bus, ask the driver to turn down the music (yes, there is always the music playing in a Colombian bus) and bring on a show of your choice. You can play on a comb (which is pretty popular btw), scream out your poetry, stand on your hands, of course you can do the classic singer-songwriting-singing-with-a-guitar-thing (you don’t need to be able to play the guitar, you don’t need to be able to sing, illustrated in video no. 2). And at the end, no matter what will you do, you will get paid by more than a half of passengers. Sounds like a good deal, ha?

From words to actions, let’s just see one guy sing:

You don’t have to be able to sing, you don’t have to be able to play. Still, a career in a Colombian bus is nothing unattainable.

He was a frequent performer on my way back from work, route Turbaco-Cartagena. I must give the man a credit, because the guy could actually sing, and also regarding his oratorical skills which are, unfortunatelly, not presented in the video. However, there were also quite a lot, let’s say, low-flying-performers, that seemed to me more like a cabaret kind of thing. And, at last, there were some that you can’t even classify as cabaret…

The surprising thing was that they were all getting paid! You could even stand there, at the front of the bus, and do nothing for a couple of minutes, or maybe call scratching your head a new form of art. You would still get the attention and receive your money for the performance.

Thus, for me, coming from Poland, there were quite a few shocks here. For starters, the driver in Poland would not cooperate with you. They are sometimes even angry at you, when you ask for the bus stop. Or say good morning… Secondly, there is no way you would get paid by so many passengers, unless you’d do something really mind-blowing.

So, my conclusions are that either Colombians are very cultural-supportive. Or maybe there is just so many people doing nothing and just deciding to become artist out of boredom, that this kind of thing just got into Colombian blood. Nevertheless, it was just a lot of cool, interesting experiences for me, as I am a big time fan of street artists around the world.

And sometimes, when it’s raining so hard that you need to leave your downtown home because of the flood and drive for like an one hour to the city center in order to sleep in your friend’s apartment, you can enjoy some funky music even though the man can’t sing, the man can’t even play the guitar!

Just a guy singing in a Colombian bus

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