My first night in New York City in Dec 2019 was pretty eye-opening!
[Quick Note: NYC is really close to Tufts. The ease of access to New York via Boston, and the fact that many students take quick trips to NY during holiday seasons, has made the place a favourite spot amongst Jumbos :) ]
Denzel and I just had dinner and were planning to head to Times Square to take some pictures and experience the nightlife there. Walking past souvenir stalls, gentleman clubs, dollar pizza stores and Stephen Colbert's Late Show, we headed to the heart of NYC, where we were greeted with a dazzling array of lights.
"The city that never sleeps", Denzel said. I was surprised by the amount of people that filled the place! It was amazing but difficult to take it all in. We had trouble finding places and corners to stand in and snap some photos because of the sheer number of people walking past us.
As we passed each other our cameras to take photos of one another, we noticed a crowd forming in the distance, and before I could ask, Denzel told me that those were street entertainers preparing for their next performance. There was a palpable sense of energy as people hovered and formed a circle around a group of three men. Two of them began to stretch while the other was setting up the microphone, banners and an empty guitar case (for the coins/notes!).
Most of the performance consisted of acrobatic stunts and jumps. The crowd unknowingly closed in on the group, and one of the performers had to pause midway to ask the crowd to stand back and give his team some space. For a part of the performance, the group asked for a young volunteer. A young boy readily agreed and left his parents who were accompanying him to join the group in doing some charades. As the crowd grew larger, a performer who was on the microphone continued to direct the energy. He also remarked (not verbatim): "Don't worry, he (the boy) will be fine," to the laughter of the crowd who continued to be drawn by the entertainment.
I didn't think much of it, but later was told that that was how entertainers (who were often Hispanic or African-American) attempted to alleivate the concerns of the public (who, in this case, were mostly White).
When the performance finished and the crowd dispersed, it was almost as if Times Square had gone back to a state of equilibrium: crowds continued to throng the place, people walked in all directions and lights continued to flash as sounds continued to be blasted from the speakers.
It was 1230am, but the city showed no sign of stopping.