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Aus
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After watching Craigs video and having a moment to reflect on the few times I've been involved (which is rather limited) with a magic club I have to say his observations are near spot on.

I remember going on a holiday in Sydney and through various connections with other magicians got invited to one of the IBM club meetings. Firstly the club meeting was run once a month which just happened to coincide with my time there and secondly much of the demographics of the members were of the older male age bracket with the exception of two or three younger ones out of the ten people in attendance.

The members were nice and welcoming enough and I enjoyed my time with them but it was obvious to me that something was lacking.

My first observation was the lack of momentum as a month between meetups seemed rather long as pointed out by Craig in his video. I suspected that this had much to do with member availability due to personal commitments as some members were paid professionals. However every now and then they would get a prominent magic personality in to lecture and their numbers would artificially swell.

Some of the club activities seemed to be very frivolously embraced by many of the members. On this occasion they asked the membership for magic books they are reading or had read and present a presentation to the club about them. One member simply stood up and read the title of the book and said there was great tricks and stuff in there and that we should get it and that was it. It all came across as low effort.

The few younger members did present some interesting stuff and then we split from the formalities of club business and scheduled events and jammed for about an hour and a half amongst ourselves.

I also managed to socialise with these same guys at some mutual magic events outside the club, and one such event was a performance at a theater put together by a collective of young local magicians both amateur and professionals playing at the event. Although it never explicitly stated so, I had the feeling that this event was very much an attempt to give aspiring amateurs some real world experience and at the same time giving some pros an opportunity to earn a few dollars in the process.

As to be expected with such a varying level of experience amongst the performers the show was not 100% perfect but regardless was entertaining enough to pay and see.

Talking to two older members of the club after the show who talked to me about it were overtly critical of the show and its short comings and never had anything nice to say about it. I had a hard time deciphering whether they were being constructive or destructive with their criticisms, as in my option there was both redeeming qualities of the show and areas of improvement.

My interactions with these guys at the club reminded me of the two grumpy old men out of the Muppets who never had anything nice to say.

It was at this point I realized that there seemed to be a clear tribalistic line between the young and the old as well as poor investment from members at club level that didn't really inspire others to get involved or want to join. The fact their membership artificially swelled during lectures by notable magic personality's suggested to me that much of this could be fixed with a simple change of attitude and innovative thinking.

I wonder what other people's experiences have been like participating in magic clubs, and what are some of the problems in your view that contribute to the declining memberships that magic clubs are getting and the perception of why they appear to be slowly dying out.

I would be interested in your thoughts.


Magically


Aus
George Ledo
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I didn't watch the video, but here's my experience.

When I joined IBM back in the late 60s, the meetings were very formalized. First there was a short business meeting open only to members: the president's report, the minutes of the last meeting, the treasurer's report, and any new business. It was mostly attended by working pros and a few who wanted to be working pros. After a short break for coffee-and, there was a show open to guests. Again it was all scheduled ahead of time.

Years later a few of the guys who were not working professionals decided that they wanted to do only close-up and formed a clique. They didn't participate in the open show most of the time and generally spent their time hanging out with each other and "being cool." It turned into "we and them." That was when my dislike of close-up started.

Fast-forward a few years to another IBM ring on the East Coast. Those meetings were looser, mostly members hanging out, with an occasional lecture or show for other members. A few pros but mostly amateurs with not much interest in putting in any work. I went a few times and lost interest.

Fast forward again to another ring in a different state. A couple of good shows or lectures now and then but mostly "amateur city" performing close-up for each other. No structure.

Fast-forward once more, back to the West Coast, in a different city from my first ring. Amateur city, just members hanging out and occasionally doing close-up for each other.

I haven't been to a Ring meeting since 2003 or 2004.

My perception of "why" is the huge push to get new members, whether or not they're really interested in magic, as long as they pay the dues. It's been discussed here many times: the difference between "I want to be a magician" and "I want to perform magic (or otherwise be actively involved)." One doesn't take any work; the other one does.
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Julie
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Quote:
On Jul 30, 2022, George Ledo wrote:
I didn't watch the video, but here's my experience...I haven't been to a Ring meeting since 2003 or 2004...

My perception of "why" is the huge push to get new members, whether or not they're really interested in magic, as long as they pay the dues. It's been discussed here many times: the difference between "I want to be a magician" and "I want to perform magic (or otherwise be actively involved)." One doesn't take any work; the other one does.


IMO what YOU (me, too) will get out of a magic club (or any other) meeting is in direct proportion to what we are willing to put into it.

We "experienced" sorcerers should be willing to take the initiative to lead by example and participate in meetings for the pure FUN of it...

Julie
tommy
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In my experience, from French, amateur means one who loves, lover. There are fellows who play because they love the game. There are other fellows who cynically take advantage of the amateur's love of the game and these other fellows are called professionals.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Aus
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Quote:
On Jul 30, 2022, Julie wrote:
Quote:
On Jul 30, 2022, George Ledo wrote:
I didn't watch the video, but here's my experience...I haven't been to a Ring meeting since 2003 or 2004...

My perception of "why" is the huge push to get new members, whether or not they're really interested in magic, as long as they pay the dues. It's been discussed here many times: the difference between "I want to be a magician" and "I want to perform magic (or otherwise be actively involved)." One doesn't take any work; the other one does.


IMO what YOU (me, too) will get out of a magic club (or any other) meeting is in direct proportion to what we are willing to put into it.

We "experienced" sorcerers should be willing to take the initiative to lead by example and participate in meetings for the pure FUN of it...

Julie


I agree with your idea to a point, but there needs also a willingness to change as well, and if after your best efforts of setting an example, things are still not changing I can't see the point of continuing. As a club there needs to be a collective effort for change.

As Tommy has highlighted, there are people on a spectrum of interests and intentions and a serious question needs to be asked can a club be everything to everyone all the time or do we just accept the fact that we are not going to please everyone. In saying that each person's sense of fun isn't necessarily the same ether.

Well I do think there is something to be said on the relativism front that needs to be discussed and considered, I do believe that in particular aspects of club doctrine and policy there needs to be a clear lines drawn. As Craig briefly mentions in his video, how do you have a Ring president that has never performed a trick before be the conductor and overseer of club business and proceedings?

Also magic as an artform has become a very diverse landscape to a point I find many of the allied arts tenuous at best in their association with magic (Cardistry comes to mind).

In the name of inclusion can we realistically maintain an objective standard of what magic is without diluting it?

I don't have the answers, but some of you guys might.

Magically


Aus
George Ledo
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Three thoughts come up:

One, does it really matter that magic clubs seem to be decreasing? Are other types of clubs decreasing due to the internet?

Two, although I agree with Julie, I don't see any point in trying to motivate people who, over and over, don't show any interest in a subject or in the work that goes into it.

Three, a good chunk of my interest in my old IBM ring was learning from others, especially the pros. As I sort of indicated above, therecwas nothing to learn the last dozen or so times I attended a meeting.

This was my own experience. I'm not saying it's the same for others.
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My first Magic Club experience was the PCAM circle in Reno, NV in the late 50's. Besides a stringent "performance based" qualification,
there were special program for young magicians (17 and under).

1) each was given homework on history and classic effects tested at the next meeting.

2) a contest on a theme (never cards) with prizes gifted by old-timers. I won Bunko-Blocks, 10" Taylor Rings, etc. Of course, the winner
had to perform the new effect within sixty days with mentoring if required.

3) if any kid got a gig, a senior volunteer was available to drive them, observe and make comments after.

4) if several kids had an interest in some technique/venue, a teach-in was arranged by an older member.

......

beyond that, EVERY member had to present something at every meeting. Might be an effect, a sleight demonstration, a bit of history or a personal story.

I have been part of many Clubs in later years, but none met this standard of support and participation.

ahhh - I wish there was Club where I could help young magicians in this way.
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George Ledo
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The most useful magic club I was involved with was in Santa Barbara back in the early 70s. It was not associated with any of the majors: just an independent. We had a few pros and a bunch of kids, as well as a few hobbyists. Regular meetings, lots of opportunities to perform, mentoring, the whole bit. One year we put on a full-evening show at the Lobero Theater, a 600+ seat house and pretty much sold it out. The kids did a magical playlet complete with a street scene set (rehearsed for weeks) and we brought in a couple of out-of-town pros. It was a heckuva lot of fun and a heckuva lot of work. I was the stage manager and also opened the second half with my cards-and-doves act.

At my IBM ring, we used to do exchange shows with other magic clubs, but there was never the excitement or the willingness to work that this little independent club showed.
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Here will be some very unpopular thoughts. The reason people go to magic club in general is different for everyone. This is the problem. For example the reason I never go to magic club meetings is because magic is not my hobby magic as my profession. I have other hobbies so my interests in magic are different from those Who show up because they enjoy magic as a hobby. So you’re in the room for two different reasons and these are two very different reasons. There is no right reason or wrong reason and there’s nothing wrong with either reason but the fact is the difference in these two reasons is part of the problem and there’s a bunch of other reasons as well.

So the key is and I believe that the most successful of the magic clubs are those in which people are all there for the same reason. Often it is informal groups of people who meet, whether professionals or hobbyists Who all show up for the same reason and for the same goals and they have the same outlook and magic. This makes it a lot easier for everybody to get along and it makes it a lot easier to share information, as information between professionals is more specific often than information between hobbyists.

Again there’s nothing wrong with any reason for joining the magic club but the key is to find a group that is more suited to why you are there. A Magic club is a pretty big umbrella and that umbrella already encompasses different genres of magic from close-up to stage to mentalism and much more, so add in the dichotomy between performance and hobby and you have a very difficult group to get centered on doing one specific thing. This is the problem trying to find things that everybody wants to do which is why it becomes sort of a forced activity as opposed to if you’ve just got nine or 10 guys so just show up because they all have a similar interest and it’s organic, then everything just sort of gravitate towards that interest. A group of nine or 10 mentalists Are going to show up and organically just start talking about mentalism. If a close at magician was there he would be bored to tears perhaps if he had no interest in the topic. Nothing wrong with being a close-up magician nothing wrong with being a mentalist I just alignment does not allow for the close-up magician to enjoy himself as much as he would in a place that he had eight or nine other close up magicians.

I’ve always felt this is what causes the break down in Magic clubs in general. I don’t believe anybody is doing anything wrong I don’t think they’re inherently bad I don’t think it is anything except this that causes them to be probably less attended than they they would be if they were more specific.
Danny Doyle
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critter
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I found our local club scene uninspiring several years ago. A fringe hobby can never replace a lack of personality.
I think the problem is too few people knowing what they want out of magic or want to contribute to it. The trick collectors who need every new floating thing but never develop any presentation with it but still somehow get paid. Professionals in the technical sense of the word.
OTOH, to be in the Castle to catch some inspiration from Vernon would have been amazing.
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George Ledo
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One of the thinks that may have contributed to the decline is/was the membership drives pushed by the clubs themselves. "Bring a friend!" "Introduce your friends to magic!" Blah blah. So these people show up with no idea about magic or what they want from it and the regulars start losing interest. Then the newcomers, who can't find anything or anyone to get involved with, also begin to lose interest.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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RobertApodaca
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I'm actually planning on going to the next Las Vegas IBM meet up. New to the area and looking to expand my horizons. Will let you know how it goes.
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