New York’s Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Soars to New Heights

For the New York-based performing group Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, tradition is something meant to be challenged, even as it’s being celebrated.

Bindlestiff Family CirkusAnd while the circus remains a real family tradition, Bindlestiff is turning the genre on its ear, merging acrobatics, burlesque, and vaudevillian humor into one action-packed, surprising show.

A Cirkus is Born

Founded in 1996 by Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson, the talented troupe of two to 16 performers per show regularly performs at theaters, colleges, and festivals, sharing its love of the variety arts with audiences worldwide.

With its founders well-versed in the art of fire eating, Bindlestiff offers audiences a chance to view the nearly impossible, providing a spectacle that for adult audiences stretches the definition of what is traditionally considered a circus, crafting a somewhat raunchy and utterly riveting production that merges sideshow, burlesque, music, and vaudeville.

A Little Bit of Magic

For several years, the troupe performed in what it billed as “the last vaudeville house in Times Square,” presenting several shows a day and giving both audiences and performers a chance to explore vaudeville-style arts better.

They were forced to close up shop when the former shoe store was demolished in 2004, but the group soon hit the road, bringing its finely-honed, edgy acts including sword swallowing, fire eating, acrobatics, contortion, magic, and buffoonery to audiences worldwide.

Kinko the ClownFrom Kinko the Clown, who made a satirical bid for president in 2008, to Mr. Pennygaff’s sword swallowing, Miss Una’s surprising aerial feats and Philomena’s precision bull whip handling, a skill that allows her to slice a rose held between a volunteer’s trembling teeth. The show is a risque celebration of the circus, one that pushes boundaries while still allowing viewers to be swept away for a while by the death-defying feats.

Educational Opportunities

Bindlestiff is also dedicated to teaching performers the art of the circus, and the non-profit organization offers workshops, performances, and lectures for the general public along with advanced classes and internships within the group.

The troupe also performs and presents workshops in schools, ranging from single workshops to two-week programs that explore the circus, vaudeville, Wild West touring shows and sideshows, ultimately offering a study of more than a century of American entertainment.

The courses allow everyone who has ever dreamed about running away to join the circus a chance to realize that dream for a while, generating increased interest in the spectacle that ultimately is the circus at the same time.

Beyond Bindlestiff

More than 400 Bindlestiff graduates are currently performing at a variety of venues worldwide.

When is a Hop-on Hop-off Bus a Waste of Money?

When visiting a big city such as New York, double-decker buses are familiar sights going around the main attractions of the area. Even as a local, these buses never fail to amuse because of their catchy colors, texts, and the many people availing of the service.

Double decker buses for NYC touristsLooking at the price tickets of these hop-on-hop-off buses, you will quickly realize that they don’t come cheap. Each adult ticket is priced for at least $50, which covers your bus tour for the entire day. It does not include entrance fees for sites that you want to see. Although you can avail of discounts once you purchase a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket.

Despite the ticket being a bit costly, it is interesting that many local and foreign visitors still avail of it. It may be because of the convenience of going around the city. The opportunity to get on and get off on areas that you want to visit. You are not forced into going to every site just because it was included in the itinerary. You now have the option to choose, which is something that many visitors value.

Going for a hop-on-hop-off bus is valuable if you are a first-time visitor to New York. Or you are here only for a few days, and you want to see the main points of the city. It is also advisable if you are traveling with children or the elderly, who would struggle to go on walking tours. It is excellent for groups, too. Because you get to pick sites that you want to visit. And you get to go together as a group again when you go to another location. You may want to meet each other up once the whole loop is finished. It is easy for everyone logistics-wise.

However, a hop-on-hop-off bus can be a waste of money in some instances. When is it a waste of money? Here are some scenarios:

1. It is a waste of money if you intend to go to just a few places

Remember, when you want to visit museums and other attractions, you have to pay for their entrance fees separately apart from the hop on & hop off in New York City bus ticket. So, if you already know what you want to visit, and you don’t intend to explore all sites included in the route. Then it is best if you just visit the attractions individually. Just use the money that goes to the bus ticket to the entrance fee of what you want to see.

The New York City Pass gets you discounts on several attractions2. It is a waste of money if you are a student

Many attractions in New York are student-friendly, meaning, they give at least half-price discounts to local and international students. Therefore, if you have your student ID with you, it ends up being cheaper just going to the attractions, showing your ID, and getting a discount. Although you can get a student discount with the hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, you can also get a discount with subway tickets. The government-sponsored New York City Pass which allows you to visit over 90 attractions in the city. Therefore, going for the hop-on-hop-off bus as a student is a waste of money because the local government encourages students to visit the city. Thus, giving generous discounts to students.

A hop-on-hop-off bus is okay to take if you are visiting New York for the first time. Or if you are traveling with children or seniors. However, it becomes a waste of money if you are disinterested to visit all the sites included in the route and if you are a student. It is expensive to travel around New York, so be cautious when signing up for tours like this. Make sure it is the right fit for you.