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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » Nightclub magic. The Good, The loud and downright drunken! (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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magicalmilton
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you'll find me in Alex's... on the strip
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Hi Guys,

I am a professional nightclub magician and have realised that there is actually very little information available for people who want to perform in nightclubs (to drunk people in a venue where everything vibrates to the beat of the speakers and the sheer mass of people can make it so hot and humid that your pack literally warps in your own hands!).

but tbh I do not know where to begin so if you would like any information on this area of magic performance, please ask away Smile
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
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I did it for many years. It can be a tough row to hoe, but it makes you stronger. Besides, not that many guys can, or want to do it, so the field is usually wide open. It teaches you how to communicate with everything except your voice.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
magicalmilton
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you'll find me in Alex's... on the strip
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Yeah I think it really does, and there are a few things which are unique to it as well, like the regularity of performing to intoxicated audiences which gets you very very adapt at quickly gauging social situations. also the sheer volume and number of distractions is so high that the dynamic on audience engagement changes. instead of just thinking about being clear and concise so that the "magic" is "not even suspected, let alone detected" (Ascanio?) you also need to ensure that every infinitesimal element of each routine is more engaging than the surroundings. Else your audience will literally walk off. With no warning.
Alan Munro
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I did it for a while. The gigs can fun and the tips can be nice.

Didn't have to worry about unruly drunks - they got booted rather quickly. Security personnel were everywhere.
Dimitri Mystery Artist
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The most difficult working conditions.
I have done it for awhile...the basic tips I would suggest is, dress up that way that people will know you are a performer and not just a weirdo with cards Smile
Simple, short and visual magic works best for me at those situations.
Michael Baker
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The places that I worked actually varied in the number of drunks. Some places opened early enough that you could gauge the level intoxication as the night grew on. Others didn't really kick up until late, and it was not unusual for the patrons to arrive with a pre-existing condition. You just gain a sense of who's good to work for, and who's not.

The magic has to be to the point, and not too heavy on plot. Clarity and conciseness are key when working for the buzzed populous (assuming you do at all). It also helps for the magic to be visual eye candy. Sometimes that's the best link to comprehension. Since these type clubs are usually meat markets, the character must also be engaging and charismatic... dweebs and creeps fair worse than they would if they were not doing magic.

As Alan said, tips can be nice, but that sometimes depends on the clientele. Sometimes you find yourself surrounded by people throwing cash around like it's confetti. Other times all the guys there are nursing a beer and hoping to get lucky. Those with money tend to understand that you are helping them get laid. The others see you as competition because you are probably already infinitely cooler than them.

Quick tip... If the place has valet parking, it's usually entertaining a clientele with money.

Another... Regulars can be an asset, as they are often the ones that introduce you to fresh bodies.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Christopher Lyle
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Props to anyone who does this. I don't doing a stage set in a night club...use to do it back in my 20s. I'd never try strolling in the environment. Not my cup of tea...
In Mystery,


Christopher Lyle
Magician, Comic, Daredevil, and Balloon Twisting Genius
For a Good Time...CLICK HERE!
Zombie Magic
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I went out for a beer and now have
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When I was single I'd go out with friends and do magic all night. BUT...I wasn't being paid and could pick and choose who I did it for. No counting tricks or other long winded baloney.

CrazyMH, color changes, even sponge balls. The most intoxicated will scream loud if you do the snap change and change a joker into a an ace.
bishthemagish
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I remember Terry Veckey telling me a story when he was working one of these loud dance bars. He had a woman pick a card and turned away and while he was turned away at that moment her boyfriend took her other hand and led her out on the dance floor still holding the selected card in the other hand.

Terry said he had to run after her just to get the card back.

I still laugh when I think about it.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Ray Bertrand
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I started out with a nightclub act in 1965. The raunchieness, rowdiness and drunkenness were all part of the scene. The good part was that I did have a microphone and was backed up by the band. Bright, colorful, and highly visible effects were the best. The easiest way to hold the audience attention was to bring up a female volunteer from the audience who was with a large crowd. Between sets I would often be invited to the tables near the stage where I would perform some close-up. I'd hate to perform under those conditions today.

Ray
EnterTRAINment at its best.
Michael Baker
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Mostly,l I did close-up. But there were a handful of times when I was doing a stage show. Those are not so bad because it usually means you have control of the music at that point, and DJ's are always good for hyping your introduction. Easy walk-on. I'd ALWAYS open the act with a flashy manipulation sequence done to music... fire, doves, canes, silks... anything colorful to catch the eye. I would keep talking stuff to a minimum. Dance floors are usually such that you have to be somewhat angle proof, but they are generally situated where the most people can see. I've even worked stages in strip clubs. Scared me to death the first time, but the crowds were pretty fun. I must say it is odd working a floor with a pole in the middle, though! Ha!
~michael baker
The Magic Company
magicalmilton
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My venue is mostly filled with students (valet parking, lol its £5 entry and 99 pence for a pint... anyone who brought there car would have to leave it behind coz there is no waaay they would in a condition to drive home!). and I only perform close up walk about magic. The best place that I have found to perform is the queue and the smoking area as these tend to be the most quiet and also most relaxed parts of the club (people in the queue tend to be happy that they some distraction from the fact that they are in a queue and people in the smoking area tend to be just chilling out of taking a breather from the music and so are happy for something more personal).

The venue does have its own private security but if we through out every drunk we would have no clientèle ha. and as Michael Baker points out, the social phenomenon known as "Predrinking" (coz alcohol is cheaper from a supermarket than from a club, people and especially students tend to drink a lot before they go out to the club and so do not spend as much in the venue in maintaining their drunken state. Economically clever but massively dangerous to their health as predinking can start as early as 6pm!) often means that clients are arriving drunk.

I actually do not dress so that it is obvious that I am the magician. This for two reasons, one is that obnoxious customers tend to be ten times more obnoxious when drunk, so if I do not want to perform for someone I want to be able to avoid them without them being able to obviously see that I am a magician.
Number two is for security reasons. If you stand too much out of the crowd, you become an easy target for violent drunks who want to try and prove their alpha superiority. This is bad on two accounts as it not only puts me and the security staff in harms way but it can also be seen by the management that your performance, in some way, provokes violence.

Instead I dress in all black. This is good because nightclub patrons for any nightclub will be used to staff dressing in all black (from bar-staff, glass-collectors all the way through till security) and it also means that you can stand back and look at who to perform to, and instead of people thinking that you are a weirdo staring at them, they will assume that you are some kind of security.

how then do I engage people in my performances, well with a massive amount of close-up stage presence and a lot of social dynamics lol. Essentially you need to make your personality stand out more than your clothing. Its tough and sometimes can be very very hard work, but its always rewarding in the end.

I am trying to think of things that would have helped me to know if I was just starting out... I suppose understanding the underlying reason why people go to a nightclub (which is to get laid, or to... get laid. Or, if your a female... to get laid. oh and some people also got to a nightclub just to get laid) which should then inform how and what you perform (steer well clear of anything that mentions sex or people will assume that you are also there to get laid, also steer clear of any tricks that can make you look socially inept,such as sponge-balls because sponge balls always make you look weird, also screws, nuts or paper clips or anything that seems cheap will degrade you socially and so will lower your interest in the eyes of most of your spectators. Coin magic is good, tricks with glasses, finger rings, Cards, straws from the venue etc are also good stable trick to work with. oh and if you choose to do cards, make sure to bring several packs and drunk spectators love to keep their cards as souvenirs Smile

Hope some of this helps someone lol
Michael Baker
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Magicalmilton,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and techniques. As a former "trench worker", I can appreciate everything you say. Best of luck with your work.

Your comment about spectators keeping cards is so true. I laughed at Bishop's post talking about the guy who went running after a woman, just to get his card back. To me, that's just weird.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
cablerock
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How much material do you think you use in a night? What kind of preparation do you do?
magicalmilton
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That's actually a very good question. My gigs are always set to standard times of last entry so if last entry is 2am and fist entry is say 10pm, than my set is 4 hours long. If the club has an extended late licence for certain events (such as New Years eve where most clubs are open till 5am) then last entry is at 4am and so my set is 6 hours.

My material is total. I use every trick at my disposal. This is the luxury position that you find yourself when you have over 8 hours worth of very strong, impromptu sleight of hand material. I don't sit and pick and choose which tricks to take with me... their all there in my head. This is also because I have had sooooo many people grab the pack out of my hand with no warning, wanting to inspect it, that I want to make sure that if it does happen again, that all they find is a normal pack, or a normal straw or a normal coin etc. The only gimmicks which I carry on me are David Regals disposable decks and loops. Also I only do loop work to the queue as there is a rope separator between me and the audience (which is actually there to stop people pushing in and to keep them in an orderly straight line, but it means that I can step back and now I am out of arms reach but still within eye-shot) and of course David Regals disposable deck is used as a finisher.

Preparation... well I brush my teeth and have a shower, does that count? oh and I buy some packs of cards and then trained for 15 years... lol sorry, to be serious, no I do not have any kind of special preparation. I put some elastic bands on my wrist, my finger ring is always on my finger, a couple of packs of cards in my pockets, a loop on the other wrist to the elastic bands with a back up around my elbow and 5 more in a holder in my wallet. loaded either in a back pocket or in a lowered inner jacket pocket I have a disposable deck set up and I am ready to go!
Michael Baker
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WHAT?!?! No ropes, or linking rings, or cups and balls, or Invisible decks, or sponge balls, or handkerchiefs, or Multiplying bottles, or Die Boxes, or Vanishing Bandanas, or paddle move tricks, or stacks of changing bills, rising cards, or balloons for cell phones, or 5" jumbo magnetic flipper expanded copper/silver coins, or twenty five other tricks named after some other DVD magicians?!?!?

Well, then... you can't be a REAL magician!!!!!

;)
~michael baker
The Magic Company
magicalmilton
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you'll find me in Alex's... on the strip
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I know... I feel so ashamed! I have been faking it all these years! I don't even own any jumbo flipper coins... I never even seen one! I used to own a paddle, I was on the canoe team for my university. I can do the rising card... I mean I wouldn't but if someone was insistent, I would do it with a loop.

and multiplying bottles... lol if it was requested I'd send them to the bartender!
magicalmilton
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you'll find me in Alex's... on the strip
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Ah yes, something that is actually very very important to know when working a nightclub as a close up magician. If the music is playing... AVOID THE DANCEFLOOR! nothing quite screams loser like a guy telling someone to pick a card whilst everyone around them is headbanging to dubstep or Dutch house lol. and even worse, it does go down well with the patrons, they stop dancing to watch you... which means that they are ignoring the music, which reeeeally ****es off some DJ's!
Countage
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Charlotte
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In my experience it is very easy to loose people's attention and loose your voice due to loud music. I have also found the best time for the magic is early before everyone gets really drunk and the club is not as packed. Not that I have ever done it but I could imagine it would be very easy to check in work for 10 mins leave then come back when you are supposed to stop and get your check. I have had more fun bringing a couple magic trick to the club when I was not hired to be there. However it has been over ten years since I have been in the club scene. Can't do that these days now that I am married with four kids.
magicalmilton
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you'll find me in Alex's... on the strip
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I would disagree strongly, in my experience the first two hours I have people who are completely sober and the more the night goes on the more magic that they want to see. Also the more packed the club gets, the bigger my audience gets and so I have more people to interact with and so I can co-ordinate and induce bigger reactions from more people. This not only looks good to the management but also feels good for the spectators who have come out to have a good time. Win Win. equally the more packed the club gets the "closer" my close-up magic gets which actually increases my arsenal of effects.

Losing your voice is a big problem but you learn quickly that 97% of patter is unnecessary, and the rest is learning how to breath and projecting your voice correctly which we can learn from our stage magician friends Smile (and whilst we are at it we can learn a lot of other cross disciplinary skills)
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » Nightclub magic. The Good, The loud and downright drunken! (10 Likes)
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