Squeals of Delighted Terror
They’re talking about him, to him, at him yet he doesn’t flinch. I watched for several minutes and didn’t see him so much as blink. I watched his chest and shoulders for confirmation of breath but nothing. He is so convincing I began to doubt my own senses and found myself accepting him, the human sculpture, as being inanimate.
Finally a young woman, egged on by her friends, approaches the human sculpture. She moves slowly, cautiously, simultaneously filled with fear and bravery. Perhaps that is what bravery consists of – one part bravado and one part fear. Her long braid dances across her back, she involuntarily shivers and stops. Realizing it was just the breeze she flashes an amazing smile and laughs out loud with amusement at herself and the situation she’s chosen.
Her friends cheered her on and nudged her from behind. She began again, this time she reached the sculpture and stood with only an inch between them. The sculpture remained as still as stone despite the frenzy of shutter clicks that ensued. He grabbed her! It was a stealth move that only took an instant. Not knowing if she should run or remain, she screamed and danced in place, tears sprang forth and again we were graced with her amazing smile and the crowd laughed and applauded. The sculpture – all too human now, faced his heroine, pressed his palms together and begged her forgiveness. She happily granted it and as she turned to leave, the sculpture released a loud, deep growl and lunged toward the heroine, sending all the females into squeals of delighted terror.
Street performers are ubiquitous in Barcelona, every corner, courtyard and alley will offer entertainment and creativity. Two men with guitars will host their own private competition of dueling classical or flamenco riffs while a block away the Brazilian Capoeira troupes will attract you with their rhythmic drumming and chanting. The Capoeira feed off the audience’s reaction and their nimble gymnastics, acrobatics and gasp-worthy martial art techniques becomes more complex, more thrilling with each exclamation from the crowd.
I spent more money on tipping street performers than on anything else while there. I am a sucker for a violinist in the metro station, the aerial flips and oh so very near misses of the Capoeira’s kicks or fire dancers who appeared at the beach-side bar as if from the tide, mermaids of sorts who peppered the shoreline with light and silently added spice to my cocktail. The artist crouched over a dirty plastic bag in an alley cutting and weaving used soda cans into ashtrays and candle holders.
Entertainment over, the hat passed, the sculpture, duo or troupe has moved on, a friend whining to get moving again, my adrenalin levels returned to normal, my camera’s disk full of hundreds of yawn inspiring photos for my friends and I find myself resentful of the moments that follow, the quiet and calm that returns.
It was fleeting, each time I encounter a street artist I know it will be. But for me, these moments are what you rush around the corner for, leave your table for, stop your conversation for, divert from your path and be 10 minutes late for.
To be thoroughly entertained, completely enthralled and not able to focus on anything else around me is worth a couple of Euro because during those few, fleeting moments I received truly the best memento – I was very much in love with life, with just being in that space, in that moment and nothing else mattered.