Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sub-Street Theater

As usual, I rode the subway home yesterday. The Local came before the Express, so with a sigh, I got on. (It’s a tossup, timewise, between getting on the Local and waiting for the Express. But the Local is warmer than the platform, and there’s nothing like shivering on the platform and knowing that if you’d taken the Local when you had the chance, you’d be there already. I usually take the Local.)

I sat down in a forward-facing seat, next to a woman who appeared to be asleep. She was holding a plaster model of two folded hands. Someone behind us started yelling shortly after we started moving, but you get crazy people on the sub sometimes, so I ignored him.

After the flood of college students got off at Cecil, the yelling resolved into, “Now we’re going to be using this space, so watch your children, watch your arms and legs, and watch your personal possessions!”

It occurred to me that this was not usual on-the-sub crazy, so I pulled my foot and coat out of the aisle, and craned around to watch.

Mr. Yelling pulled out a speaker from – so far as I had been paying attention – nowhere, plopped it down on the floor of the car, hooked up an iPod-type device, and started his spiel. My sleeping neighbor woke up and turned around when the music started playing.

Yelling’s compatriot started break dancing, right there in the middle of the train. “Live on a moving train!” declared Yelling, as his friend folded a headstand into an upside-down crouch, and then Yelling dove over his friend, landing in a forward roll to bounce to his feet. Right after that he launched himself into the laps of two young women sitting near the door — but at the point of his arc grabbed one of the vertical poles and used his momentum to swing around midair and land back on the ground, without ever touching them.

By the time I thought of taking out my phone to snap a picture, they were already packing up. It doesn’t take great pictures, anyway. They turned off the music, explained that they were Project Positive, and passed around a hat. I gave them a bus token, because I’ve been giving all my change to Penny Power. (A reminder of my decision to always carry small change in a readily-accessible pocket while going to and from work. There are few enough live performers on the Broad Street Line that I want to encourage them when they appear. These two bring the tally to one violinist, one marching band, and two on-ride hip-hop dancers.)

It was lots of fun, and made my commute much more interesting. They weren’t just athletes but performers, with Yelling keeping up a steady banter the whole time. I’ve never had the privilege of attending a musical flash mob, but this was much closer than anything else I’ve seen.

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