The Grafton Street Experience

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If you’re looking to go shopping in Dublin, it’s likely someone will suggest you hit Grafton Street, one of the most famous shopping districts in Ireland. Not only do you get all the internationally known brands and the opportunity to do some high-end shopping at Brown Thomas, you also find street performers that will turn your shopping excursion into a creative, multicultural spectacle.

As you approach the street, you see a three-man band playing guitars and drums. They are playing a cover song and have drawn a large crowd, four people deep. You stop and listen, not just because you know the song, but because they put a unique, Spanish spin on it, and you want to hear what they’ll do next. They interact with their audience and several people stop to throw money in their hat or buy their CD.

You walk further down the street and spot an older gentleman creating art with aerosol paint. He pauses before he grabs the next colour and ponders his next move. Dozens of finished originals are spread out in front of him, and you consider buying one of his colourful outer space scenes. You continue walking and find an odd statue, you count eight men and do a double take when a woman throws some change in a cup, and the “statue” comes to life! Later, you see a young man playing a peculiar looking instrument. Along with it, he has added some electronic percussion accompaniment. The sound is unlike anything you’ve ever heard, a blend of traditional Irish music with something so contemporary, it’s almost a genre of its own.

Street performers, or buskers, on Grafton Street turn an ordinary shopping excursion into something extraordinary. These buskers are now required to abide by a strict set of guidelines set forth by the city and pay for an annual permit to perform. These are people from all over the world who are passionate about playing their music or showcasing their talents, not just for gratuities, but for the opportunity to perform in public, in front of an appreciative audience. It is their passion and their presence that make a visit to Grafton Street so much more than just a shopping trip.

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