Busking in Burlington, VT, summer 2018

Megan Gendell in a one-arm handstand busking

I am in love with street performing. I didn’t really expect to like it or be particularly good at it — I did it mostly just to see if I could, and because the conditions this summer made it easy. But, turns out, the immediate, direct interaction with the audience is so incredibly gratifying. I do a thing, people stop in the middle of their day and watch, they say WOW, they smile, I smile, and I thank them. It happens again and again. So simple! So pure and perfect!

A one-arm handstand on the sidewalk of Burlington’s pedestrian mall

I love catching the eye of people passing just before going into a handstand, knowing that now that I’ve made eye contact, they’ll stop for a moment to see what will happen. I love when parents say to their kids, “do you want to go sit on the rock over there and watch for a while?” or “okay, just one more, then we have to go to dinner.” I love how reliably kids are entranced and I love talking to them, thanking them for dropping a dollar in the hat, telling them I’ll do one last really good handstand for them before they have to go, answering their questions, feeling connected to the ones who stay for ten minutes even though I’m on like a six-minute loop.

A one-arm croc amid busy Church Street, Burlington, VT

I love how easily a hot-pink costume gets people’s attention, and I love hearing people’s comments as they pass by. I love finding out what moves wow people, because their feedback is so honest and immediate and easy to hear. I love knowing that every single person watching had no intention of standing around in the middle of the sidewalk, could leave at any time, but is stopping and watching because they want to.

A child stops in her tracks to watch my handbalancing


I love that I get to perform any day, anytime, whenever I want, for as long as I want, doing the things I want. And I love that I get some money from it — enough that I feel well-compensated for my hard work, and enough that I don’t mind all the times people offer only a pause and a smile before moving on.

It starts with just one or two people watching, and suddenly, everybody’s paying attention

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