HK buskers in last hurrah before shutdown

Buskers performing in Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, last Saturday. In the wake of noise complaints, the local authorities will abolish the pedestrian zone, where the street performers have been entertaining crowds, and reopen it
Buskers performing in Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, last Saturday. In the wake of noise complaints, the local authorities will abolish the pedestrian zone, where the street performers have been entertaining crowds, and reopen it to traffic starting on Saturday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HONG KONG • The boisterous street performers who have long claimed one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts as their informal stage have taken their final bow after local authorities caved in to noise complaints.

Under the glow of Mong Kok's famous neon signs, buskers have been entertaining crowds - and irking neighbours - in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, an area which has been regularly closed to traffic to make way for pedestrians and performers since 2000.

The street performers have received 320 noise complaints in just the first half of the year, according to police, with local media reporting 1,200 complaints last year.

The pedestrian zone will be fully abolished and reopen to traffic starting on Saturday. The local district council passed a motion in May to scrap the zone.

While some welcomed the move, others fear the authorities are killing off the city's vibrant street culture with over-regulation.

Ahead of the shutdown, bands in glittery outfits, elderly men and women dancing the cha-cha, and "singing aunties" from mainland China came out over the weekend.

Actor Bobby Yip, who visited last Saturday, said: "This is like a nightclub for ordinary people... I hope the government will support this street culture."

But residents and shopkeepers nearby said the noise has given them a headache, at times literally.

"It does create trouble in our daily lives, including disturbing my son's study," resident Gabriel Wai said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'HK buskers in last hurrah before shutdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe