The Unbearable Loudness Of Street Fairs

Illustration for article titled The Unbearable Loudness Of Street Fairs

There is a street fair outside my building today. It is fun and vibrant and full of tasty food. It is also incredibly loud.


Don't get me wrong — I like a lot of things about this street fair. For instance, there is a pie tent where, in the past, I have purchased delicious pies. There is barbecued corn, which reminds my best friend, who is staying with me, of night markets in Taiwan. There are little kids running around being joyful. And then there is the drumming.

The drumming began yesterday in the mid-afternoon, around the time that two ladies might, perhaps, have just come home from Bridesmaids and wanted to kick back, drink vodka lemonade, and watch some videos on YouTube. Except we could not watch videos, because the computer volume did not go up high enough to hear over the drums. It was also somewhat difficult to have a conversation. The drummers, demonstrating amazing stamina, continued drumming outside the entrance to my building for approximately three hours, at which point they moved to a nearby location and drummed some more. Today they appear to have taken a breather, only to be replaced by saxophones and extremely well-miked spoken-word performances. I think these performances are probably pretty cool if you are not trying to blog.

But to be annoyed by the loudness of a street fair puts one in a strange position. One, it is a holiday — by working, one has already branded oneself a killjoy. Two, what kind of person is annoyed by a street fair? Someone joyless and uptight, that's who. The no-fun, whiny, exacting "before girlfriend" in the movie whose dude leaves her for a free-spirited French girl. I also have "before girlfriend" anxiety whenever I do not like performances on the subway — do I really have to listen to The Crane Wife for the eighteen-thousandth time, when someone is right in front of me mangling Jackson Five songs?

Really, what's both great and terrible about both media is their spontaneity. On the one hand, look, there's a street fair right outside my front door! You didn't set out to look for it — it's just here. And on the other hand, you didn't set out to look for it. It's just here. Probably, the best thing you can do is enjoy it. Failing that, you can be like me, and complain about it at work.

Image via Anna Jurkovska/



I hate most street fairs. In Chicago, 90% of them are run by one horrible promotions company. They have the same tacky vendors, the same crappy food, the same stupid cover bands and the same people who show up to drink a shitload of overpriced beer and act like oblivious jerks. Plus, they are really aggressive about asking for entrance fees, which can not legally be enforced, since you can't charge someone to walk down a public street. The only way I'll do a street fair is if I have friends who have a booth and it's an indie fair. Then it's fun to sit in the tent, help out and watch the world go by.