Following a spin through Charlotte, North Carolina, our Magic Everywhere video series hopped a plane and an El train to explore Chicago, Illinois. After visiting four of the Windy City’s magic clubs and chatting with several top performers around town, we’ve got a good picture of what Chicago-style magic looks like.
Hint: it all starts with booze.
Chicago has a rich history of good times and good entertainment, and was an early home of bar magic. As you’d expect with that lineage, the resulting style of close-up magic now practiced by many of the locals is brash and high-energy. It also usually favors lots of participation from the audience, whether they’ve had many drinks or none. With both sides ready to dish out the sass, you can expect a very good time in any of Chicago’s latest crop of magic venues.
It’s been a long road, but the Chicago Magic Lounge opened its doors this week. The bar portion of the dedicated magic venue debuted on Monday, and the first show on the main stage will take place Thursday, February 22. Max Maven is the inaugural performer for the main stage that night.
For those of you who have an appetite for chow as well as for tricks, Eater Chicago has a few snippets of information. Magic Lounge co-founder Joey Cranford told the publication that the chef who designed the menu is a familiar name for locals, and the drink program was developed by someone with ties to a Michelin-starred restaurant. But he declined to give the actual names for either person. Most mysterious.
Fortunately, there’s less secrecy around the magician lineup. Max Maven is performing on the first three nights. Sunday kicks off the afternoon family-friendly brunch show. The Mondays and Tuesdays are both “Music and Magic” nights with a rotating cast of Lounge regulars. David Parr headlines on Wednesdays with his Cabinet of Curiosities show.
Tickets are available on the Chicago Magic Lounge website.
It’s a good news/bad news situation for magic lovers in Chicago. The bad news is that the Chicago Magic Lounge‘s Andersonville location, originally due to open in December, now won’t be debuting until some time in 2018. The good news is the delay is so the space currently being reworked to house the theater can include a one-story addition that would allow patrons to see the shows from an upper viewing area.
The location on N. Clark Street, which used to be a commercial laundry service, will eventually house a 120-seat cabaret theater with a separate 40-seat speakeasy bar called the 654 Club. The founders hope to have a full week of magic programming in the cabaret.
The Chicago Magic Lounge currently does two shows a week at the Uptown Underground Theater on N. Broadway, but the Clark Street location will be a full-time magic bar. Co-founder Joey Cranford told the Chicago Tribune. “Magic is such a solo art; there is nowhere in town for magicians to gather, unless you want to hang out in a magic shop in the middle of day and drink bad coffee.”
Cranford said he hopes to make the Chicago Magic Lounge a hub for magic in much the same way The Magic Castle is in Los Angeles.