There was a time when magicians were so secretive about their ways and means that to learn magic you would have to try extremely hard to make the right connections. Magic shops were extremely rare and magic secrets were seldom published in print. Before video, the explosion of magic books and eventually the internet, you had to seek out other working professionals and work as a student under that master.
Today magical training is more readily available. One of the best ways to advance your magic career or hobby is to regularly attend magic conventions. These strange gatherings are amazing places to learn new magic, refine your skills and study under the modern “greats.” In the late 90s there was an explosion of magic conventions in the US and abroad. It seemed like every week there was another magic convention happening somewhere in the world. The frequency of these magic conventions has slowed some due the pandemic and economic factors, but I suspect another rise in conventions in the future. One quick Google search however will reveal that there are numerous magic conventions happening all year long.
Magic conventions are not always cheap. Pricing to attend these events is all over the board. Registration goes anywhere from $100 to $1000 (USD). Furthermore, you need to account for the cost of travel, lodging, food and of course the dealer’s room!
Getting your maximum value out of these conventions is very important. Below are a few tips to make a magic convention experience the best it can be. For the past sixteen months I have been planning and designing the 2022 Texas Association of Magicians convention: the annual gathering for magicians in Texas and surrounding areas. Since the TAOM convention is fresh on my mind, I find it necessary to give these tips on maximizing your convention experience.
1. REGISTER EARLY – The sooner you register for a convention, the better. Waiting to register for a convention at the door can be a huge mistake. Assuming there are registrations even left, latecomers often get the worst seats to the evening shows and large events. Priority seating is often given to those who register far in advance.
2. CHOOSE YOUR LECTURES AND EVENTS – at some magic conventions you simply can’t do it all! While at the 2022 TAOM convention there are no simultaneously scheduled events, many magic conventions will have multiple shows and lectures running at the same time. Do your research on the acts and speakers that you think may be of interest to you and plan your schedule accordingly.
3. GET OUT OF YOUR SHELL – Don’t be afraid to attend events that do not necessarily line up with your own interests. If you’re a card magician, then don’t be afraid to attend an event on children’s magic. If you’re a stage illusion performer, then don’t be afraid to attend a lecture on up-close mental magic. You never know what knowledge or bit of wisdom may be helpful to your magic career by visiting these events that vary from your up-front interests.
4. PACK ACCORDINGLY – it’s wise to have a pack of cards, some large coins, pen, and paper handy on you at all times. Many lecturers and presenters will teach invaluable moves and information and so it’s helpful to have these common magic mediums on you so you can try out these moves there in person. Having pen and paper handy for notetaking will help you recall information after the convention is over.
5. SUPPORT YOUR LECTURERS – most lecturers do sales after the lecture is over. Many will provide lecture notes and original products available for purchase. Magicians are often surprised to learn that most magic lecturers are not paid to present their lecture. Many lecturers are only given a convention registration or a nominal fee to cover lodging during the convention. By purchasing products from the lecturer, you are showing your appreciation for that speaker, and you are also adding to your collection.
6. NETWORK IN THE HALLWAYS – Don’t be afraid to meet other magicians after hours or in the corridor between events. These “jam sessions” are useful opportunities to networking. You never know who you will bump into!
7. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN TO SECRET EVENTS – some conventions will have special events that don’t show up on the convention schedule. These are the “who you know” events. Keep your eyes and ears open to hidden parties, late-night shows, etc. that may be a great deal of fun but don’t appear anywhere in print!
8. STAY AT THE CONVENTION HOTEL – Very often people will register for the convention and spend the day at the hotel where the convention is taking place but at night go across the street (or even across town) to more affordable accommodations. Doing this is actually more stressful than simply forking over a little extra money and staying at the same hotel as everyone else. It’s also important to the hosting organization of the convention that you stay at the venue. The team that produces the convention has to promise the hotel a certain amount of hotel rooms to be sold in order for the convention to be solvent. By not staying at the convention hotel location, you are putting the convention team at risk of paying extremely high fees for unsold rooms after the convention is over; not to mention that you miss out on all kinds of fun late-night jam sessions that happen after-hours during the convention.
9. DON’T LET MONEY BE A PROBLEM – are you broke? Don’t let that stop you from coming to a magic convention! There are workarounds for those wanting to attend a magic convention on a budget. All of these are techniques I’ve used to cut down on magic convention costs. First, consider volunteering at the convention! Volunteers may do tasks such as setup, A/V technical crew work, registration desk help, etc. These volunteers are often given a free convention registration for their efforts.
Next, consider getting a roommate for the convention. Look on social media and email newsletters for those needing a roommate for the convention. If you don’t see a posting for roommates, then make a post yourself. While it’s a bit odd to have a roommate at a convention the first time you do it, very often you end up making a lifelong friend this way. You can also save money by bringing some of your own food. Dining at the restaurants in and around the convention venue can get expensive so I sometimes bring in my own food to store in the hotel room refrigerator. You would be surprised at how many magicians do this!
Finally, consider working for another magician during the convention. You could help a magic dealer in their booth in demonstrating the latest and greatest magic. Some magic dealers will even pay you cash on location for your work!
10. TAKE LOTS OF PHOTO AND VIDEO – It’s important to document everything you experience at a magic convention. The best way of doing this, apart from taking notes, is to take lots of photo and video! Keep in mind that it is taboo or even prohibited to record video or take pictures at some events during a magic convention. It’s never a good idea to record video during a magic lecture. You also may not be allowed to video certain performances, but pictures may still be an option. Anytime photo or video are allowed, take lots of it! Taking pictures and video of your journey will help you remember key events years down the road and share with others in the future how much fun you had! Who knows, the small-
time magicians you meet in the hallway may be the big-time acts of tomorrow. There have been many times when I would meet some no-name acts that within a year or two make it to the Las Vegas stage!
11. BONUS TIP – JOIN THE HOSTING ORGANIZATION – If you are attending a magic convention that is organized by a major magic organization such as the Texas Association of Magicians or the Society of American Magicians then consider joining the organization as a member. Most countries have their own magic societies that offer annual membership. These memberships include perks such as discounted convention pricing, local magic club gatherings during the year, access to online video libraries or a monthly print publication to keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest in the magic world. Staying plugged in with other magicians is important!
And just in case you don’t know what you’re doing during September 2-5, 2022, be sure to sign up for the TAOM convention! Visit www.taominfo.online and register now!
What are your thoughts? Send me an email at email@example.com or visit online at www.bronsonchadwick.com/trapdoor