Breath-taking Blackpool
The 2008 Blackpool Magicians Convention
22nd-24th February 2008
Reported by Peter Eldin

To report on the Blackpool convention gets harder and harder every year because there is just too much to cover. Even the 3500 or so registrants find it very difficult to see everything they want to see - there is just so much going on.

In an attempt to get a real flavour of the convention I tended to flit in and out of most events, and took the opportunity to speak with many of the dealers, lecturers and performers but this meant that I did not see many of the events in their entirety.

I briefly met friends from Cyprus, France, America, Italy, Ireland, Spain and, of course, England. With some it was just a wave of acknowledgement as we passed (never to be seen again in the magical melee of magicians that is Blackpool) and some people I know were there I did not see at all! I spent three days searching (ultimately successful) for one particular person but with many there was the opportunity to chat and renew old friendships and even make a few new ones.

Blackpool always has an excellent line up of lecturers and this year was no exception - I counted twenty lectures - that should be enough for anyone! These included David Sousa from Portugal talking about the use of an “invisible wall” to make magic more visible to the audience, Shoot Ogawa from Japan, J.C. Wagner from America, and Valerie from France on the techniques of quick change (something I found fascinating as it is a subject about which I know nothing). There was also Lennert Green, that Paderewski of the paste boards, triple world champion Shawn Farquhar, sleight of hand expert Kostya Kimlat and mentalist Lior Manor from Israel. Apologies to all those not mentioned but it is impossible to include everyone. What do you think I am - a magician!

One event I was determined not to miss took place on Sunday morning - an audience with Wayne Dobson and Geoffrey Durham (two leading British performers with a wealth of experience in show business) interviewed by popular compere and magician Terry Seabrooke. It was simple in format - just Terry asking questions of two of the biggest names in British magic but it proved to be entertaining, instructional and very amusing. These guys know their business and it showed. Apart from the Gala Show this, to me, was one of the highlights of the convention.

As the convention was heralded as the “Close-Up Colossus” there was inevitably plenty of close-up magic to be seen and enjoyed. Among the many magical stars performing were Jupiter from Hungary, David Stone from France, Canadian magic champion Shawn Farquhar, David Stone from France and UK’s own Steve Dela.

In addition to the lectures and close-up sessions there were numerous other events, several world championships, a special non-magical item for the ladies (a talk on flower arranging) and well over 100 dealers from around the world. Blackpool is breathtaking.

The penultimate event (prior to a late night party) of this whirlwind weekend was the ever popular Gala Show. In my opinion this year’s show was a well balanced production with a good mix of acts. Specific mention must be made of the compere Adrian Walsh who, although not a magician, is ideal for a magic show as he has the ability to adapt himself to every eventuality. Whatever happens he keeps the whole show bouncing along.

We were entertained by manipulators such as Mahka Tendo from Japan and David Sousa from Portugal. There was comedy from the Dutch couple Scott and Muriel (their act is a “scream” and if you ever see them - and hear them - you will know what I mean) and Rafael from Belgium. Topas presented two most original acts, one of which included the effective vanish of a rocking horse, and illusions were presented by the very young Yamagami Brothers from Japan.

I have never seen Harry Greenaway, President of the Blackpool Magicians’ Club, dance before but that that is what he did, after a fashion, after being dressed up as a cactus during the crazy act of Scott and Muriel (as they say “you had to be there”). Another unusual act was that of Antje Pode who thrilled with amazing ‘feets’ from Germany. She is a foot juggler of the highest degree and, although not a magic act, received the highest spontaneous applause of the evening - and a welcome change from magic. Another unusual immensely entertaining artiste was Rafael from Belgium who presented a highly original comedy act which also contained some extremely good magic - this is certainly one I would like to see again.

The show ended on a high note with the colourful parasols and brain stunning fire breathing dragons of Shimada, a fitting climax to yet another wonderful convention. I look forward to next year.

This report may be a little unfair because I have picked out my highlights which may not be the same choice as anyone else but it is almost impossible to mention every performer and lecturer without simply replicating the programme listings. It is also impossible for a single reporter to attend every event so I have to admit to a rather truncated report of the whole event. But you should not be reading reports - you should be there, that is the only way to experience the uniqueness that is Blackpool. To me it is a social occasion as much as a magical one, it is a time to meet old friends and make new ones but of course to many it is the opportunity to see the biggest gathering of international dealers in the world, to others it is the thrill of seeing the world’s leading magicians “strut their stuff” and to most it is a combination of all these. How Derek Lever and his band of willing helpers from the relatively small Blackpool Magicians’ Club achieve such an outstanding convention year after year is an act of amazing magic itself. The Blackpool Convention is unique and long may it remain so.


© Peter Eldin, February 2008