• No events.

My Blackpool 2011 Experience by Arnaud Meyer

February 24th, 2011 by Magic Convention Guide

Arnaud Meyer reviews his personal experience of this years Blackpool 2011 weekend:

I’m always very excited as the Blackpool Convention get closer. Last year was my first time and it was already a blast! We planned the trip from Thursday to Monday, instead of Friday to Monday last year.

The whole travel to get there is already an adventure (sort of), as I choose to drive instead of flying. Why : more convenient for my fiancée and myself, and also the pleasure to discover UK landscape as we cross this country for south east to north west.

Once arrived there, on Thursday afternoon, first things first, drop the luggage in the hotel room, and directly go to the convention center for registration. It’s less crowded and gives us more time to beg for the holy 24 hours Wifi voucher that will help us get online and tweet the next day (roaming charges for French phones is just insanely expensive). The people at the registration desk are lovely, and as we are there we are given the neck thingy to put our passes on, a small bag that will not only allow us to carry the convention program (worth £6) and the free book you get for having sent your registration form early to the mighty registration officer, Arthur Casson (worth £25, the book, not Arthur), and of course a registration form for Blackpool 2012 (£5 rebates for registrations before March, 31st, YAY).

Then out in the town center to find a Wireless Blackpool bar. The first one we chose is the Scruffy Murphy’s on Corporation Street (from the list given in the Magic Convention Guide). First disappointment: no Wifi whatsoever there. No problem, we’ll find some later, we are still thirsty so we get some pints and start enjoying the place, and discovering the convention program. This year is all about the FISM competition, and you can tell reading what they’ve planned. Friday is all about the Championships, except for two lectures after 8pm! Saturday is filled with the Stage Magic Championship and lots of lectures planned during the day. So you have to choose whether you’ll follow the competition or watch the lectures or a little bit of both. Sunday is more organized and quite let you follow everything as there’s no major overlapping in the lectures and events.

First impression: the competition makes it hard to make some choices, and kind of take over the convention in itself. But let’s see how that goes.

While drinking our beer we meet a friendly group of three English dudes and one Scottish (he would have appreciated that I named him apart). They start talking with us and even offer the next round of drink! Blackpool spirit all over the place, but they left in a hurry (and quite hammered too) because they had a reservation in a restaurant.

Went to eat at the Pizza hut (on the Wifi list, we were quite on a hunt for this). We asked for two vouchers (not to ruin or 24 hours treasures in our bags), they gave us 2 60 minutes which we scatch and use only to discover the Wifi network in the pizza hut is not functional thus no way to gain access to the internet…. WHAAAAAT? No problem, we’re to hungry to leave, and finalkly we get back to the hotel were the wifi works like a charm!

Friday, first day of competition. The morning is still young and BAM, already Yann Frisch on stage. This dude has something different… standing ovation at the end. Incredible. Some other very good artists but too many for me to remember all the names, sorry. As we sit in the Opera house we met with the “cubict act team”, they’re French so it’s awesome and we make sure not to miss their act the next day.
Time to go spend some time in the dealer’s room, see what’s new. First surprise for me, Eric Jones is here! I’m like a cheesy fan and ask for a picture. He’s very friendly and accepts with no hesitation whatsoever. Very nice guy. I see Henry Evans too, picture too. I then wander around the numerous stands to finally settle at Mickael Chatelain from Mephisto, who happens to be French and very friendly too! He does some kick ass gimmicks on which I spent most of my money eventually. But for now I keep my quids in my wallet, time to go eat and try the Winter Garden restaurant.

We grab a tray and realize that the menu seems very different than last year, in a BAD way. Virtually nothing to choose from (among them a small pie and a burger without anything else than a small piece of meat inside). Last year there was rice, pasta, chicken… were did that go? We even asked the guy there if they were ready to serve customers. Ha well, we grabbed the burger and a banana just to have enough to face the afternoon, and promised ourselves to eat somewhere else for the next meals.

Afternoon competition is awesome too, we really have a great time, and at 5.30 when it ends, time to go out and have a drink and eat before the Stage Magic championship starts. I alse met Paul Wilson in the street, it was awesome!

The bar we chose is the Rose & Crown (Corporation Street). Very nice bar, very nice beers. We get two 60 minutes vouchers, and still not working. What is wrong with the wifi there??? After a few pints we go to the Toast restaurant (still on Corp. street). Wifi there works! YAY! And the menu is varied, the place is nice and people there do the best to make you feel comfortable. We had a great time there, and with a smile we go to the Opera house the enjoy the stage magic show! Mike Chao and Max Guito’s acts were the most impressive to me. The competition is very interesting!

Saturday comes, and to start the Day I go to Salvano Jr. lecture. Very nice man, with a lot of very good tips on how to manipulate cards. His technique is flawless and there’s a lot to learn from him. Then I run back to the Opera house just in time to watch the Cubic Act from my French friends.And I’ve been amazed!!! It has something from a Samuel Becket’s novel to me… I keep on watching the championship, and finally I realize at the end of the day that I missed a lot of lectures… ha well. Hopefully lecture will be back next year maybe without a championship to prevent me for attending them.

In the afternoon I take time to spend some money on trick in the dealer’s room, reaching the limit I had decided, and realizing I would have to spend WAY more!

It’s now time for the award ceremony, which was the most awkward ceremony ever, because of audience slow hand clapping the compere left the stage. As I’m French I didn’t quite get why the audience felt so strongly about him, but the result was there, a big incident in the middle of the ceremony. Apart from that, the prizes given were deserved as there was lot of very good acts. And the French won 5 distinctions!

On Sunday I got to attend all the lectures, I was very happy with that. Richard Osterlind teaching us how the bend spoons and Michel invisible hand (not what you think guys) was the highlight of my day. I also met Bernard Billis on his way to the convention.
I spent my last few quids during the dealer’s showcase last hour frenzy.

I got to have dinner with the Dutch delegation (including FISM winner DION!!!) it was awesome and I will never thank them enough to have invited us.

The after gala show was quite enjoyable, even if at some point you realized that more that one hour has gone without ANY magic act. There was also the singer from last year, and an act from last year after gala show. Apart from that, and two magicians using the silk-become-a-cape trick, the rest of the show was awesome, and finished in a blast with a fountain on stage, las vegas style!!!!
I didn’t go to the after gala show this year, so no feedback on this one.

The Blackpool nostalgia got to me right away, on the way back to France. Can’t wait for next year!

About the author: Arnaud Meyer is a 31 year old French IT manager, photography/design/magic geek. whos been into magic for 2 years now. He lives in the north of France, with his wife who is a great support, and a great photographer too.

Websites : www.neologisme.com and www.youtube.com/neointhemix