Does anyone have any experience of it? What are the legalities of it? and what sort of thing do you usually have to do to get any money? I can ride forwards, idle, and ride backwards a bit. I can bunny hop without holding on the seat and I can juggle whilst I’m doing it, I can juggle balls and clubs whilst riding forwards, and I’m just getting the hang of juggling whilst idling. I’va also got a pair of stilts, but no trousers made for them yet, and I prefer unicycling!

Any suggestions? I’m not planning to do anything just yet. I’ve got exams until the end of June, but I’m thought it would be god to try it out sometime this summer.

Read these articles:

The Art of Juggling in Performance
An Introduction to Street Performance
Creating a Juggling Act
Busking and Performing on the Street

Good luck,
Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

busking is a weird thing. some days youll get 500$ for a show, and some days, you’ll get 10 bucks. from the little bit of experience i have, its definitely not your juggling or unicycling skills that get you the money. its your stage presence and ability to keep the audience entertained by other means. it really takes work to perfect those skills. im not sure on the legalities really, but often its illegal in places where you think it shouldnt be. so try to talk to someone about a site youve found. thats all i really have to say.

Kevin ,good luck with it.

I think you ask the council, or whatever, of the place you want to busk in, then they set a time and see your act and decide whether it’s worth letting you busk.

By the way, Drawing a Circle in the Square: Street Performing in New York’s Washington Square Park is an excellent book on primarily the culture but also the technique’s of street performing.

It is also available on Amazon UK. (I get a browser error for this link. If it doesn’t work, just do a search at Amazon UK for the title. It’s there).

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

I’ve done quite a lot of busking, but never on a unicycle. So I’ll pass on what tips I have.

  • Check the legality in the specific area you're busking, it totally depends on local laws... Oxford and York you're find in, Birmingham you aren't, bits of London you are, and other bits you aren't.
  • This one's a bit difficult with a uike, but make sure that at all times you can easily close or pick up your money box - the last thing you want is to busk all day and someone to nick the contents.
  • Check out where other people busk before you go - find a good pitch and make sure you aren't starting a turf war.
  • Have one or two killer tricks that get the money rolling in - get a good crowd up, do a killer trick, get the money in, and then have a break.
  • With reference to the last one - have plenty of breaks, and a bottle of water about the place, if you are tired and not performing well people won't pay you.

Hope these help


I used to busk in and around Nottingham in about 1983/4, playing music, but not using the harmonica. A couple of times, i did fire eating too.

Do you mean “busking” or “streat entertainment”? A busker stands there and plays an instrument or sings, or quietly gets on with a bit of juggling and waits for the money to go in the hat from people passing by. A street entertainer occupies an area of ground and puts on a show, encouraging people to stop, watch and pay.

The difference is important, because England’s laws are enforced only sporadically, and occasionally with a surprising degree of common sense. So if you aren’t blocking the main thoroughfare, intimidating anyone, creating a public nuisance, or actively begging for money, the worst you will usually get is being asked to move on. On the other hand, if you mark out an arena with a 50 footlength of rope, address members of the public directly and loudly, blow 6 foot spouts of flame, and run round the front of the crowd with a hat demanding payment (be it ever so jocularly!) you might end up upsetting a Bobby.

Then you have to be sensitive to the place. In Nottingham, it’s OK to busk in the subways (pedestrian underpasses), and on certain shopping streets. You wouldn’t get away with it in the Market Square, or outside a municipal building. If you are somewhere touristy (and I guess Oxford falls into that category), and somewhere where there may be lots of other potential buskers (e.g. a major university city…) then the rules might be enforced a bit more rigorously.

If you ask for permission and it’s refused, then you are in trouble if you get caught doing it. if you don’t ask, and you get caught, you may well get away with a reprimand. (Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but genuine well meaning ignorance coupled with a polite show of imbecility can help.)

And if there are regular busking “pitches” in your area, don’t muscle in. Some buskers do it for a living, not just for a hobby.

Good luck.

Thanks for all the advice. :slight_smile:

There are a lot of buskers and street traders on Cornmarket in Oxford and I don’t think they get too much trouble. I suppose the best bet there would just be to go and ask one of them sometime.

I hear what you’re saying about having a proper show worked out being much better than just standing there juggling or whatever, but I think that’s what I’ll probably start off with until I get a bit more confident with it all, and then work out a show.

I have previously busked on the Cornmarket in Oxford (you might have seen me playing my pipes last year) - you’ll have no problem from the police - busking is legal in Oxford. What you may have trouble with is other buskers. Buskers in Oxford I’ve found to be VERY territorial, and if you accidentally get one of their spots, you’re in trouble.

Having said that, it is a very very good place to busk, I’ve made about £150 an hour on Cornmarket St before.


This is probably the most important bit of information for someone starting out. Watch other performers. You may notice that the best ones do not necessarily do any really hard tricks, but they make the audience laugh or build up great stories.

In unicycling, when speaking of just tricks, you’ll find you get 0-3% applause for coasting, or other real hard tricks, and90-130% applause for relatively easy stuff like jumping rope. Same applies to juggling. You juggle three clubs while idling, a smattering of applause. You pick up a dropped club from the ground, the applause will be bigger.

But you can make that club pickup response even bigger by “playing it.” It’s all about the show.

These are some links posted by Raphael