Due to its relatively small population, many Keelung buskers have been forced to leave their hometown and seek permits in Taipei or New Taipei City.
By comparison, Yilan County is more friendly toward buskers.
Hu Ming-jui, head of the fire dancing group Scream, which was founded in May 2010 and obtained a busking permit from the Yilan County Government last year, said Yilan has many locations suitable for street performances.
“But there are relatively few buskers performing here,” Hu said.
Since the county’s Luodong (羅東) night market attracts a lot of tourists, Hu’s group decided to apply for a permit to perform a fire dancing show, he said.
Fire dancing is not allowed in major cities such as Taipei and Greater Taichung, but “the Luodong Township Office approved the application after confirming that we would follow strict safety regulations. It also informed the township’s fire department of our plan,” Hu said.
It can take a long time for some local governments to approve street performance applications, but Luodong Township officials approved Scream’s application quickly, Hu said.
“They were very friendly and even came to watch our show. We felt very honored,” he added.
Shanny, a Canadian member of the troupe who has been in Taiwan for four years and lives in Yilan’s Waiao (外澳), said contrary to common belief, fire dancing is not dangerous because to perform at all one must be very skilful.