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South Tyneside International Magic Festival 2007

I have to be honest and say I love the Tyneside convention; the convention has many aims and delivers all of them. It promotes magic by putting on two great gala shows open to the public; it promotes Tyneside and creates a warm intimate convention. As well as bringing people over to the UK for the first time, this year it was Daniel Garcia, Robert Baxt and Trixie Bond.

The organisation is second to none, several of the artists commented on how well they were looked after, and it was like a big happy family, many faces I’ve seen every year for the past 4 years.

I also have to add I’m in no way connected to the convention, however if they do book me in the future then I’m sure my review of my own performance would be open and honest, and glowing as always!!!!

There was a concern that the change in venue and the set up would impact the convention and it was a slightly different convention than past years, it has lost some of the unique appeal (like dealers in hotel rooms, jokes like; Punter: ‘what trick does the white thing do’, Dealer: ‘it boils water’ were missed). However these small things were more than compensated by the longer lectures, which was a massive hit, as well as an outstanding gala show Saturday and Friday, including my hero (Ray Alan) added to making this again an outstanding convention.

You see the key is they ask every year for feed back and they listen, we said we wanted longer lectures and we got longer lectures. I’ve asked that next year the dealers give everything away for free, so will wait and see if I’m listened to.

Not everyone stayed in the Hotel due to lack of space, however the B&B’s are only a short walk away and many drank in the Hotel bar till the early hours anyway, and then went back to the B&B’s.
Transport was provided for the gala shows, however you had to make your own way during the day up the road to the convention venue, which was not an issue as the sea air cleared the head and conventions are the only time I get any exercise. However if you can’t walk far (about 20min) you need to factor in either a taxi fare or stay sober and drink (ok taxi or walking are your only options).

Apart from the late night jamming sessions (of which Daniel Garcia was part of most of them) and the midnight show (Max Maven) most of the activities were held at the Customs House, which is a great venue for a convention, great lecture hall, good theatre and friendly helpful staff. They are also one of the sponsors of the event. The dealers being in a separate building was mentioned by many I talked to as an issue, for me personally it did not bother me and could not see where else they could have gone.

Eating out at the event, if you’re still hungry after the 2 lunches (included as part of your registration costs) then curry seems to be very popular, with so many to choose from you will not be short of selection. If curry is not your thing then the pub in the bowling alley across the road is highly recommended, home made pies and chips and good value for money. I of course ate as much as I could (ruining my slim figure), choosing to have dinner twice a night (to cover as many of the eating venues as I could). Watch out for my ‘Eating Out at Tyneside Convention’ book in all reputable book shops.

For most of us the key to a convention is the sessions in the bar with fellow magicians, showing tricks and discussing magic and putting the world to rights. For me hanging out with Daniel Garcia (he had never had a curry, so my claim to fame is giving Daniel Garcia stomach upset after a rather hot curry on Friday night) and Shoot Ogawa on Saturday, he has to be the nicest man in magic, very humble and very talented guy, I think many magicians should take a lesson from him in this sense.

Highlights for me were full lectures, Shoot Ogawa had 2 hours and I still feel he had more to offer, Daniel Garcia had an hour and a half on the Sunday morning and not once did I feel tired, also how many times have you been to a lecture where the person said, ‘hey record me if you want, take pictures etc’ I can see how he has won prizes for that lecture. The lecture venue was ideal, as it was in a tiered seating studio for most of the lectures however moved to the theatre for a few which was not the best venue for close up, but still better than most venues I’ve seen lectures in, and I don’t think anyone missed out on any of the explanations.

The Saturday Gala show was one of the best I’ve seen and judging my reactions of the lay audience in the theatre they fully enjoyed the show also.

As with all reviews I should add for balance some comments other than out and out praise.
Daniel Garcia’s stage performance was mentioned by many, he was funny and got laughs from the lay audience and many magicians, however it was clear he was not prepared for a stage show, he performed a escape from a normal jacket (put on backwards) and then passed though a wall of humans. Talking to him afterwards he was aiming for laughs and got them. Maybe some of the convention goers wanted to see the sub trunk or linking rings (which they did get to see 3 times in fact), some even said they would not go to his lecture (their loss as it was one of the best lectures of the convention).

The Robert Baxt lecture was more like sales pitch, and where once again funny, I don’t like to hear prices mentioned on products and reference to the lecture notes every five minutes.

Where the venue is perfect for lectures, the camera for the close up parts needed to be manned and the projected image made bigger.
So what do you get for your money?


Trixie Bond, John Lenahan, Shoot Ogawa, Max Maven, Daniel Garcia, Robert Baxt

Two Gala shows Featuring

Friday – Shoot Ogawa, Daniel Garcia, John Lenahan, Ray Alan and Lord Charles and Alex Lodge.

Saturday – Max Maven, Pete Firman, Marc Oberon, Romany and compered by Robert Baxt.

Close up Sessions

Trixie Bond, Daniel Garcia, Shoot Ogawa,

Two lunches and a midnight show with Max Maven.

For additional costs and for limited few you can add Master Classes, this year it was Max Maven £100 and Shoot Ogawa £60.

So if you think it’s too close to Blackpool, or too far up North, or too expensive then you don’t know what you’re missing. I only wish you could pre-register for next year!


About the author…Darren James is the author of many shopping lists. As well as being a busy performer he is part of the Watford Association of Magicians Committee.