NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a familiar sight to straphangers: Crews of young dancers who wait for the subway doors to close, then entertain the captive audience with limb-twisting tricks and earsplitting tunes.
Police say the performers are endangering riders, and authorities have launched on a crackdown on the illegal behavior, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
Dozens of performers have been arrested since January for reckless endangerment.
“It wasn’t cool,” said Damien “Lalo” Morales, a 19-year-old performer who was among those arrested. “Nobody should be detained for doing something positive.”
“I dance on the train to stay out of trouble and put money in our pocket,” said Andrew “Bluewaffle” Saunders, who has been working the subway for years with his crew, Waffle NYC.
“People think most older people would hate us, but they love us,” Saunders added.
The dancers want money. And some riders say they’re intimidating.
“They’re fun to watch, but they’re irritating,” Greg Smith said.
“I’ve almost been kicked in the face once or twice,” said Jared Brown.
Others say they don’t mind the performers.
“It’s OK — entertainment,” said Grace Ciu.
“It is very New York,” added Clem McIntosh.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said he’s in talks with the MTA to legalize these types of performances in certain areas of the subway system and give the dancers a platform to express themselves.
“As skilled as they may be, the potential risk to themselves and the public on a moving subway car that sways, moves, jolts is too great to ignore,” Bratton said.
An MTA spokesperson told CBS 2 the agency is willing to discuss the issue with Bratton.
The MTA already has a program in place called Music Under New York. Performers have to audition. Three hundred performers are accepted and given a high-profile, highly trafficked spot underground, off the trains, where they can perform for tips.
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