Having missed Blackpool and the Session two years running due to exams, this was actually my first ever convention. I was very excited about the line-up, but overall the talks, lectures and events still somehow greatly surpassed my expectations. I keep recalling things and noting them as highlights, only to realise that I've pretty much listed the entire weekend.
Meeting Darwin Ortiz was a particularly big one. I really enjoyed his talk and Q&A on presenting magic, which is something I was really hoping for. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on Sunday night, and the table was later joined by Luke Jermay, Josh Jay, Andi Gladwin and Rune Klan among others. Thanks to my friend Tom, the discussion somehow veered off into discussing magic tricks where part of the method is stopping time, which was a good laugh.
Rune Klan is probably my favourite magician to watch, and I was very pleasantly surprised when he came on to perform even though he wasn't on the schedule. He did a hilarious routine with thimble magic and it was a joy to watch him do it live.
Seeing Ben Earl performing up close, finding four of a kind over and over with a borrowed shuffled deck, just left my mind completely blown. I had no idea that such skill could exist. As one guy next to me said, Ben Earl can do for real what most magicians only pretend to do, and the result is so natural and beautiful. Watching him really inspires me to work at my sleights. I later saw him doing parts of a 3-fly routine, and even though I don't normally like such routines, I could have sworn I saw real magic. I don't think I blinked, I didn't feel misdirected in any way. There were no moves. The chip was in his left hand, my mind re-evaluated the situation, and then it was on the right.
Justin Higham was doing small workshops on particular sleights. I went along to the workshop on false shuffles hoping to learn the side-faro which he covered among a variety of other great ideas. It was really nice being in such a small group that you could see everything up close and get exactly the help you needed. Justin was incredibly considerate of people's individual requests, and it was a real pleasure to be taught by someone so skilled first-hand.
Luke Jermay did a fantastic lecture, and he really made me think about something in particular relating to my character, which is sure to have a significant impact on the development of my magic in the near future. Dennis Behr's lecture covered a great deal of ideas surrounding memorized stacks, particularly Mnemonica, which is the one I use. Some of the ideas he demonstrated for shuffling and unshuffling a full stack during the course of a routine where amazing and I will definitely explore how I can use them.
I was really looking forward to Pit Hartling's lecture as I have his book and I really admire the thought and structure behind his routines. I had also recently been working on his version of Colour Sense, but I had been trying to find a different way of having a packet selected at the start. It was something I was going to ask him about, but it turned out I didn't need to. He covered a couple of improvements he made to some of the routines from his book during the lecture, and the modified version of Colour Sense is exactly what I was after. Furthermore, his performances were absolutely spot on. Even having read the book, some of the subtle points were executed so well that I was taken in by them even when looking out for them. I also enjoyed his performance of a memory demonstration which was very funny indeed.
And of course, there was the interview with the legendary David Berglas. The atmosphere when he was awarded the first Session Lifetime Achievement Award is hard to put into words. From the interview, my understanding is that there is no single method to "The Berglas Effect". Whether or not what he performed was THE Berglas Effect because of the fact that he touched the deck seems irrelevant. It was a flawless performance and I am thrilled to have been there to witness it. I am really looking forward to the release of his new book.
...And this isn't even everything. There is really too much to list! I almost didn't make it AGAIN due to exams. I ended up having to rush to the train station in York immediately after finishing my last exam on Friday at 6pm, but I am so glad I did.
I left the convention truly inspired.
Many thanks to Andi and Josh for making it happen!
- Joe Williamson