Whether you’re driving past the expressway or walking down State Street, every Chicagoan knows the familiar sound of drumsticks clanging on plastic buckets. These street performers, which are almost always young Black men, are commonly referred to as “bucket boys” and mostly accepted as a part of the city’s culture.
Apparently, a select portion of the city’s population feels differently about them and are hoping that a group of aldermen will vote to crack down on their ability to perform downtown on Wednesday, according to WBEZ.
“I can be on a phone call — totally indoors — and actually not be able to hear people on the phone because of the bucket boy noise outside,” said Karl Fogel, a partner at a technology company downtown. “It’s just drumming on buckets, and it’s not that interesting after a while.”
Street performers are technically required to obtain a $100 permit to conduct their business legally. Without one, they risk being ticketed and having to pay $300 for the first offense and $500 for the second. They’re also required to maintain a volume where they can’t be heard from more than 100 feet away.
Ald. Brendan Reilly thinks that’s far too flexible and has proposed that street performers be banned if their performances can be heard from more than 20 feet away, which would make it practically impossible for bucket boys to exist in the city’s downtown.
RELATED: Los Angeles Works To Decriminalize Street Vending
Some performers have raised worthwhile concerns that Chicago’s downtown is almost always filled with noise and that the drumming of buckets is just one of the many causes. Removing them wouldn’t reduce the noise pollution from traffic, sirens and crowds.
“When these people moved in these buildings of downtown Chicago — which is the loudest part of Chicago — how can you be mad about noise?” said Ajee Haywood, 22.
If passed, the proposed crackdown will affect many of Chicago’s street performers who will practically be banned from its two most popular areas, Michigan Avenue and State Street.
Hopefully this part of the city’s culture won’t be stripped away because a handful of people suddenly got tired of it. Or, even worse, maybe they just don’t like the sight of black boys enjoying themselves and earning some money in a positive, peaceful manner.
Photo Courtesy: YouTube