Busker Central

Busker Central presents a glossary of terms used in busking and street performing. They can date back centuries and originate from carnival and circus slang, traveling minstrel and medicine shows, as well as old Vaudeville acts.

Since sayings come and go, there are bound to be more in the realm of busking and street-performing.

Some terms listed below are obsolete but historically significant.

Read, learn, and understand the basic terms used by buskers.

Bally - To draw a crowd (sideshow)

Barnstorm - Perform without regard to busking laws

Blockhead - Pounding a large nail into the nostril

Bottle - One who actively collects money for your performance

Build - The initial crowd-gathering techinque(s)

Cafe Busker - One who plays cafes and terraces, indoor and out

Chalk circle - Circle drawn in chalk around busker to define stage

Chopping heads - Stealing another busker's audience

Circle Show - Larger show gathering an audience around performer

Closer - Grand finale closes the show

Cold - Audience is in a bad mood or not responding

Compact - Pulling the crowd in so more can join in the back

Confederate - Participant who is secretly part of your show

Crash - Perform without regard to festival rules

Crate slug - Derogatory term for performer on milk crate (statue)

Cyber Busker - Busker performs virtual show online collecting tips

Died - Performed to little or no applause (also bombed, flopped)

Dogs - Derogatory term for disliked busker(s)

Edge - Front of the audience

Fat Hats! - Wishing you hats full of money

Flash - A large impressive act with several performers

Flush - Actively passing the hat after grand finale

Gate Crasher - Perform without being invited (busker festivals, fairs)

Giraffe - Tall unicycle using a chain to the peddles

Hat - Money in appreciation of your performance from your audience

Hat Line - Informing the audience you'll be passing the hat for money

Heckler - Crowd member who taunts the performer

Keister - Suitcases and luggage holding the busker's show

Kill - The best success possible with the audience

Lost focus - Someone or something interrupts your show

Medicine Show - Selling of elixirs and potions for health

One Man Band - Busker with drums, whistles, strings, and horns

Pass the hat - Collecting money in appreciation for your performance

Patter - Spoken scripted routine

Permit - Some pitches require a fee from City Hall

Pitch - Place or stage for performances

Pinched - Taken from, stolen

Projecting - Speaking loudly with your voice (but not yelling)

Punters - Audience or lay people

Routine - Arrangement of parts of your performance

Show - Main body of your performance (build, show, hat)

Shill - A confederate planted in the crowd

Silent - Performance that does not involve speaking (mime)

Staged - Planting the audience with one or more confederates

Star - Derogatory term for conceited busker

Stealing lines - Using lines from other buskers - also possibly stolen

Stipend - Fixed salary usually per day (busker festivals)

Stooge - Confederate planted in the crowd

Strolling - Moving about performing up and down the way

Tip - Crowd

Trickle - Hat is always out passively collecting tips

Turn the Tip - Instruct crowd to donate or buy tickets (sideshow)

Walk-by - Audience walks by performer (musician)

Street performing at Busker Central