Neon, historic properties, and inexpensive gambling are what come to mind when you think of making the trip to the Fremont Street Experience. Another, more infamous, aspect of Fremont Street that tends to be difficult to ignore are the numerous street performers or buskers that range from bucket drummers to an elderly man wearing a thong. Some Las Vegas visitors love what Fremont’s street performers bring to the table, others view it as an unfortunate freak show.
What are the rules that govern Fremont Street performers? The thought came to my mind while trying to sleep at 1:30 am at Binion’s Hotel Apache while a bucket drummer’s incessant noise kept me awake. How do they reserve a circle on the Fremont Street Experience, get paid, and stay in the good graces of the authorities? Why are they allowed at all?
It is important to note that performers on Fremont Street, or the Las Vegas Strip for that matter, cannot charge a fee. They rely on tips and it is always up to the patron what, if anything, will be paid. Performers are often criticized for aggressively demanding tips or shaming those that don’t tip adequately by making a scene. Although you certainly should fork over a few bucks for services rendered if you stop for a photo, you are not obligated to pay their suggested amount.
In 2015, the City of Las Vegas passed an ordinance regulating street performers on Fremont Street. Specifically, 38 six-foot-wide poker chip decals were laid out on the pedestrian mall that buskers would be confined to performing within. Street performers register with the city and a daily lottery is held for 2-hour time blocks on the poker chip decals between 3 pm to 1 am. The ordinance itself was needed to prevent fighting between performers for prime locations, maintain public safety, and lay out perimeters for where “expressive activity” is appropriate.
Also reiterated in the municipal law is that “it is unlawful for a street performer to charge a fee for a performance within the pedestrian mall” although tips and donations may be accepted.
While attire (or lack thereof) is not regulated, noise levels actually are. Street performers are not to exceed specific decibel levels when measured from 1 and 25 feet. The ordinance also regulates how far performers need to be from ATMs, building entrances, crosswalks, outdoor dining areas, live concerts, and even other street performers.
Other fun facts from the Las Vegas Ordinance regulating Fremont Street Experience that apply to all visitors:
- Hula hoops larger than 4 feet in diameter are forbidden.
- Launching or throwing items into the air is forbidden unless the performer is connected with an event put on by the Fremont Street Experience LLC.
- Feeding Birds on the pedestrian mall is prohibited, as is littering and sleeping.
Whether you love street performers or detest them, they will continue to be a permanent fixture in Downtown Las Vegas. If you are looking to earn some scratch performing yourself, hopefully, our guide was helpful in pointing you in the right direction!
Feature Image: ©georgeclerk via canva.com