I was in beautiful Provincetown on business this afternoon, which is a pretty nice thing to be able to say. Provincetown is breathtaking throughout the year, but today was a day made for the chamber of commerce: 74 degrees, clear sunny skies, light breeze coming in off the harbor.
After my meeting, I did a little wandering up Commercial Street, the heavily congested main business thoroughfare in town. Lots of foot traffic, a fair number of cars trying to weave their careful way among the throngs, the occasional pedicab, and all manner of visually interesting people.
Seems one local street performer decided the town needed a bronze sculpture dedicated to the memory of Rosie the Riveter. Unlike other performers I’ve seen doing similar schticks in Harvard Square, Times Square, and elsewhere, our Rosie here was smiling, moving, and responding generously to any currency that was dropped into her barrel of rivets.
I was walking by when she set up shop, so to speak. She passed me on the street, carrying her props and her ladder, fully dressed and body-painted for the role. As she set herself up in front of town hall, a crowd immediately began to form. A playful half-smile hovered on her mouth the whole time I was watching her.
She was, in short, having a blast.
I thought her sign was interesting, too; it read For Your Safety, Please Do Not Block Traffic.
When of course, stopping traffic was the whole point. She was there to draw a crowd, the bigger the better (what little car traffic there is on Commercial Street was at a mere creep anyway, due to the massive number of people strolling aimlessly down the center line). And if the crowd of gawkers spilled out into the street, forcing cars and pedicabs to come to a complete halt too, more kudos to her as a showstopper. There is a LOT to look at on Commercial Street in Provincetown in August. Lady has a TON of competition.
She found a way to gather a crowd in an area of intense competition for audience attention.
I know part of it was the novelty of her presence in that context, the novelty of her performance to this audience.
But I also know part of it was her little smile, and the obvious sense that she was enjoying herself profoundly.
Being different helps you stand out in a crowd. But being happy and playful, wordlessly inviting others to play along?
That puts the crowd in your pocket.