Countdown to Blackpool
Next week is the Blackpool Magic Convention. It’s the biggest annual magic convention in the world. The fact that it happens at Blackpool in the middle of February makes me far happier than I can ever really express. There is something almost beautiful in seeing internationally acclaimed magicians wandering around the peeling glitz and faded past-glory of Blackpool, desperately trying to work out what the hell is in the Greggs sausage roll they’ve just bitten into. It's all so very British.
Still, other than revelling in the enjoyment I get from watching bleary eyes magicians staggering about looking for the fabled all night McDonald’s, or the pleasure of walking around on a Saturday morning and spotting confetti strewn about the streets, I thought I'd let you in on what the whole affair is about.
The dealers’ hall is something to be seen. For the uninitiated, this is the area where people who create and sell magic tricks come to flog their goods. Usually it a few tables with board looking people sat behind a display of cards and/or DVDs. But at Blackpool it’s something else. Stretched across the Winter Gardens' massive ballroom, as well as taking over the balconies, adjoining rooms and lobby as well, it’s immense. The bastard child of Aladdin’s Cave and Wolford Market, with Frankenstein’s Lab demanding a paternity test for good measure, it can truly take your breath away.* It’s an absorbing, exciting atmosphere, with everyone hoping to make a ‘find’; some barging or another whilst keeping their ears open for the next big thing in magic. It’s also a great opportunity to stock up on the staples of your magic kit bag. Working magicians spend a fortune on things that explode, burn, disintegrate, and in many other ways are destroyed for one effect. Blackpool is where a lot of us can load up on what it is we need to perform our bread and butter magic.
As with any magic convention worth it's salt, there are lectures. Oh my goodness there are lectures. This is the chance to hear some of the greatest minds in magic talking about and discussing theories and ideas, demonstrating techniques and giving away tricks that have made them world famous. Of course, it’s also an opportunity for these people to sell things like lecture notes and gimmicks they have made, and if you don’t have your wits about you, you can very quickly find you’ve convinced yourself that a third mortgage is totally fine, and really a university education is overrated and the kids should learn the value of a hard day’s work, plus you don’t need to repair the hole in the roof and JUST TAKE MY MONEY AND GIVE ME THE MAGIC!
To be perfectly honest, these days the lectures appeal to me less than they used to. At The Magic Circle I get to see a great lecture every week. It’s very different for those who don’t live so close to London. Smaller magic clubs – though absolutely wonderful places to meet other magicians and develop your own skills – don’t really have the resources the Circle do, and so a convention like Blackpool is an amazing opportunity to hear great talks from all around the world.
Then there are the gala shows. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights there are a veritable cavalcade of magic. Last year I was truly blown away by some of the performances, Kim Young Min being my absolute highlight. I’ve not included a video link of his act because, frankly, it doesn’t do it justice. All I know is that in 2017 I saw a man literally disintegrate metal with his bare hands, and it was beautiful. I cannot wait to see what magic I’ll be enjoying this year.
Finally there is the socialising. You form wonderful friendships at Blackpool, some last a lifetime, some just a night, but all are meaningful and probably the best thing for me about the whole convention. In fact, I think that’ll be the topic of next week’s blog!
So there you have it, the run up to the 66th Annual Blackpool Magic Convention. I’ll be reporting on it on Twitter, whilst mini-Paul will be giving his unique take over on Instagram. It’s going to be fantastic!