As has now become tradition within the world of magic, as well as in the little world I live in, the last weekend in February saw the Blackpool Magicians’ Club holding their annual convention at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Officially recognised as the largest magic convention in the world with over 3,000 magicians from all over the world congregating in Britain’s favourite seaside resort at the end of winter for a weekend of fun and mischief, the Blackpool Convention is not so much a convention as a cattle market of magicians trying to either see or buy the same thing at the same time.
From an “official events” standpoint (lectures, performances and such like), it wasn’t too bad – certainly better than some conventions I’ve been to. Socially, it was one of the best and one of the most fun weekends I’ve had for a long, long time. One of my main highlights was finally getting to meet a gentleman called Joe Porper, a person who encompasses the best of both of my worlds – magic and pool. Joe is well known in the pool world as a maker of top quality cue cases and high-end custom pool cues, as well as some brilliant accessories to help put a tip on your cue and make sure it performs correctly. He is also known in the magic world as the maker of top-quality props and accessories – his magic wands, which screw together like a pool cue, are some of the nicest I’ve seen. You can see Joe’s pool equipment at his Creative Inventions website and his magic stuff at his Porper Originals website.
Another highlight was some of the Sunday night Gala Show. Now, I’m not normally a Gala Show fan, although I will watch them, but 3 of the acts on that show stood out far and above the rest of them. Tony Chapek had a brilliant act in which he interacted with a character on a TV screen (very, very funny). Men In Coats did a lot of stuff that I had seen them doing on TV and a lot that I hadn’t. Seeing them live was even better! Jerome Murat did a fantastic act about a statue. Fantastic stuff.
Highlight of the Close Up and Lectures was Rick Merrill I had seen at the MacMillan Convention I was at in London last November (there’ a report about it on this blog) and he didn’t disappoint here either. I also went to see Martin Nash’s lecture, but it was a little disappointing as he was making a lot of mistakes mentioning that it had been 15 years since he had performed in front of magicians. Although it was great to see and meet him, it was a shame that he was very rusty and not on top form. I am sure, however, that his American lecture tour will shake that rust out of him and he’ll be back on top form in no time.
Dealers were… the same! Pretty much the same people in the same places in the same halls. Almost like deja-vu – again! I did manage to buy the smallest set of brass Cups and Balls that I had seen in years – really dinky and pretty cool.
As I said previously, the best part of the whole convention was the social aspect! Sitting around the Ruskin Hotel (the HQ hotel for the convention) having a laugh with friends. Sadly, and not for the first year, there were no real sessions as such. No groups of magicians sitting showing each other tricks or coming up with new tricks. But it was great fun seeing so many friends that I only get to see at the different conventions I go to. Because of this, even with what I said about Blackpool being a cattle market of conventions, it was with a heavy heart (and very heavy eyelids!) that I left at the end of the weekend.
Will I be there next year? I don’t know. I would like to go to a big pool tournament in January, but I don’t think I’ll have enough holidays left to be able to do so. I’ll just have to wait and see, won’t I?
I’ve got some pictures, which I’ll post a link to once they’re sorted out.