A Reminder That 'It's Showtime'​ Is Illegal On The Subway

Two men were arrested for "break dancing on an L train near Union Square." New Yorkers can guess what that means. Some cop probably decided to hassle the "It's Showtime" entertainers/menaces/cultural standard bearers.

For the uninitiated, if you ride the New York subway, you will eventually encounter break dancers who blast music and perform acrobatic tricks on the moving train. They're impressive the first time you see them. They're entertaining, if you are in the mood. Also entertaining: the looks of conservative subway passengers who are terrified that they are about to be kicked in the face by urban youths dancing to Bruno Mars.

Wherever you stand on the performers, make no mistake, their schtick is technically illegal...

The break-dancing performers get a lot of attention because, well, have you seen that trick they do where the one guy throws the other one up who then slams the top of the subway car? "Ladies, if your man can't do that, leave him."

But the way New York City transit laws are written, pretty much anybody doing anything on the subway other than sitting quietly like a docile sardine is illegal. Here is the law, from NYC.gov:

The Rule which regulates the provision of entertainment on the subway is Section 1050.6 (c). Some features of this Rule are listed below...

  • Artistic performances on transit facilities are permitted, but only if they are in accordance with the following rules AND if they do not impede transit activities, including access to the trains and stations and the free movement of passengers. All artistic performances which violate these rules OR which impede transit activities are forbidden.
  • You may not perform on board a subway train or a bus.

It's pretty straightforward. If you are performing on a moving subway, you can be arrested. It's boring, but it's the law, and every so often the cops actually bother to enforce it.

But I, for one, hope that people keep breaking it. If you want peace and quiet, take a cab. Part of living in a big city is that sometimes your space gets invaded by a clown with a boom box who juggles pizza boxes. Whatever. Take the ear buds out, stop contemplating how you intend to murder your boss, and give that Mariachi band a dollar.

You are paying a huge premium to live in NYC, you might as well enjoy it.