MAGIC-CON 2011 – Thursday Night Reception

The second Magic-Con began this evening, still in my hometown of San Diego, but at a new venue, the Doubletree Hotel in Mission Valley.Tonight was the reception – essentially everybody gathered in a large hall shaking hands, rekindling friendships, sharing a drink, and watching impromptu performances by notable (and not so notable) magicians.

As they did last year, organizers Syd Segal and Dan & Dave Buck encouraged (required?) the headliners to mingle with the crowd. This was a highlight of last year’s convention and a rare occurrence.  I can’t tell you how many conventions I’ve been to where the “star” magicians were off huddled in their own clicks, having private sessions in hotel rooms or a corner of the hotel restaurant.  So it’s refreshing (very refreshing) to have the chance to meet and have a conversation with a magic inspiration (perhaps even a hero) in an informal setting the night before the official start of the festivities.

But, with that being said, tonight’s reception was a bit sparse compared to last year’s.  Yes, I saw many of the Big Names (Michael Weber, R. Paul Wilson, David Regal, Max Maven, Bob Sheets, Mike Caveney, David Williamson) but certainly not as many as I did in 2010.  Also, while there was magic being performed, it didn’t have the spark of excitement that last year offered.

With one notable exception.

Off to the side of the hall, at a standard hotel high-top table, a short, impish, foreigner was doing miracles.

I speak of Dani DaOrtiz, the Spanish impresario with a deck of cards.  He hails from the “Spanish School” of magic, and with such influences as Tamariz and Ascanio guiding his formation, he absolutely blew me away.

We’ve always been told that our magic should be memorable.  Each effect should be able to be described by an audience in one sentence.

And yet, I couldn’t even begin to describe the effects that Dani did for us tonight.  (Actually, I could, but it wouldn’t be the same.)

The truth is, Dani performed the type of magic for which he is known: apparently impromptu excursions that unfold and shine despite seemingly random mistakes, unanticipated problems (even a disastrous mishandling of cards by a spectator), improvised solutions, whimsical attempts, and mischievous dares.

One “self-working” effect had five participants spontaneously screaming at the wondrous conclusion.

He was an absolute joy to watch, and gave the impression that we were lucky to be together at the same time and place – a noble accomplishment for a magician and one we should all strive to emulate.

Dani performed some of the best card magic I’ve seen in a long time (at least a year – when I saw Juan Tamariz perform at last year’s Magic-Con).

During one effect, because of his flawless execution and obvious joy at doing magic for us, I’m almost embarrassed to say I had tears in my eyes.

It was real magic.  And that’s all you can ever hope to see at a magic convention.

Tomorrow, the official Day 1 of this three day event, has a hard act to follow…