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HK buskers take a bow

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HONG KONG — The rumbustious street performers who have long claimed one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts as their informal stage took their final bow Sunday night after local authorities caved to noise complaints over their legendary cacophony. Under the glow of Mong Kok’s famous neon signs, buskers have been entertaining crowds — and irking neighbors — for nearly two decades in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, an area which has been regularly closed to traffic to make way for pedestrians and performers since 2000. Over the years, a motley line-up including an acrobat in his sixties performing stunts to Michael Jackson and karaoke bands surrounded by fans clapping along on plastic stools gave ear-splitting shows to tinny music blasted from amplifiers. Drawing cheers and consternation equally, 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 Aug. 4. But while some will be relieved that the plug is being pulled, others fear authorities are killing off the city’s vibrant street culture with over-regulation. — AFP





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