Your Commute Sucked Because You Missed the Harlem Globetrotters on the Subway


Subway performers have to rank high on the list of perks that come with living in New York City.

When you round a corner in the station, blearily trudging your way to work, and come face to face with a chamber ensemble or a lightning-wristed bucket drummer, it reminds you just how culturally rich this city really is.

Along with 3-D printed corned-beef-infused martinis, or whatever they’re serving in Williamsburg these days, it’s one of the things that makes this city unique. Something incredible can find you at literally any moment in the day. But let’s be honest — not all of these performers are operating at the top of their game.

Take the subway dancers. Some of them give Cirque du Soleil a run for their money, what with the contortions and the crazy-spinny-crazy. And I’m more than willing to risk catching a sneaker in the grill in the name of art — I’ll even throw a dollar in the can afterward. But a half-hearted pop ‘n’ lock isn’t enough to pull me away from my Domino! app. It’s just not. It’s a crapshoot, is what I’m saying.

So we should all take a moment to silently admonish ourselves for missing the Harlem Globetrotters on the 7 train a few days ago.

Yep. You missed the Harlem Globetrotters, performing in, er, well, Midtown. Which is kind of a weird choice for them. But either way, it was awesome.

Asked about the reactions the group got, Globetrotter “Handles Franklin,” laughing, says “at first it was confusion. I’m sure in New York City they see their share of performers on the subway. But we pride ourselves on being ambassadors of good will. We put smiles on faces.”

A Globetrotters spokesman said the team — which was, somewhat confusingly, originally formed in Chicago, and has been performing since at least the 1920s — was on its way to Times Square. It was the last few days of training camp on Long Island, and a lot of the players had never been, so they took a field trip of sorts. (That explains the non-Harlem route, which would have had a certain poetic symmetry to it.)

Some of the members have been doing a series of anti-bullying presentations in city schools, and have a bunch of games coming up in the area. Franklin, who’s 41 in strictly numerical terms but “16 at heart,” is one of the players who’s been speaking at school assemblies. They’ve visited every borough so far. He’s also the guy doing the lay-down dribble in the video. Hopefully he ran that uniform through the laundry afterward.

Of course, not all subway performers are welcomed as happily as the Globetrotters were. There was a rash of arrests earlier this year targeting in-car entertainers. But the team spokesman said they didn’t have any problems with Johnny Law.

“We were very well received,” he said. “They actually spun the ball on some MTA workers’ fingers.”


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