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Your First Close-Up Magic Gig: Tips for Walk-Around Magic Mastery

A successful walk-around magician does more than pull coins from ears.

You're there to boost energy, entertain guests, fill gaps in the schedule, spark engaging chats, and even cover event mishaps.

Yes, even if someone trips over the DJ's wires!

In this post, we cover everything you need to know about performing a killer walk-around magic gig, including:

  • Must-know close-up tips and hacks

  • Preparation checklist

  • Three A's of mingling magic

These are just a few of what we'll cover! Let's dive in!

A magician walking up to a small group of guests at a restaurant table.
Walk-Around Close-Up is a fun and interactive way to present magic, but there's a few things you should know!

Introduction: Your First Walk Around Magic Gig

The world of walk-around magic awaits you!

If you're reading this, congratulations on booking your first gig in mingling magic.

This is the realm where playing cards, coins, and borrowed objects become tools of enchantment. You might feel intimidated if you're new to walk-around magic.

You're not alone!


a magician sitting in front of a laptop with cards flying all around him and the words "Ultimate Marketing Guide for Magicians"

I was anxious for my first strolling magic set in a restaurant in my neighboring city.

But fear not, fellow magician, for we have just the guide to make your first close-up magic gig a spectacular success.


Understanding the Venue

Understanding the space, venue, and audience will help you have the best possible experience, whether a fancy fundraiser at a convention centre or a casual café.

Small empty cafe restaurant
You'll be asked to perform walk-around magic in a wide variety of venues!

Entertaining guests close-up at an event varies dramatically based on the venue.

From gatherings with loud background music and echoing acoustics of a grand ballroom to a tiny restaurant or massive outdoor festival, each venue has its secrets.

This doesn't mean your close-up skills necessarily change-- but your presentation and energy expenditure may.

I've had to do some strolling magic gigs almost entirely silent.

Getting the gig is the first step. Good for you!

You'll need some quality promo material to keep those bookings coming in. Be sure to check out our helpful posts on how to market yourself and your services successfully.

Here are some helpful tips for rocking your upcoming strolling magic gig.

Tips for Working a New Venue:

Here are some essential tips and considerations for close-up magicians performing walk-around magic in a new venue.

  • Size Matters: The venue size can affect everything from your voice projection to your approach to working the room.

  • Ambiance: The mood lighting, music, and décor will set the tone.

  • Role: You need to blend in and stand out all at once. You don't want to steal the attention inappropriately.

  • Accessibility: How you navigate the room is paramount. Understand the layout to know where you'll perform and how you'll move between tables or groups.

Insider Tip: The Magician's Hideaway

Arrive early and scout out the room.

You'll want to locate the restrooms and find a spot to restock your pockets, take a quick breather, and prepare for your next grand entrance.

Ideally, somewhere hidden so you can store items, supplies and a glass of water or beverage.

This retreat may range from a secluded storeroom or hallway to a quiet corner where you can crouch out of sight.

You may need to improvise.

A restaurant with guests starting to arrive.
You'll need a find a place where you can resupply, keep a glass of water and store items.

If your hideaway turns out to be in the midst of all the action, don't panic.

Find a location to blend into the scenery without interrupting the event staff and guests.

Sometimes that means standing in a corner and pretending to be part of the wallpaper.

No matter where you choose, use this spot as your sanctuary in a sea of social interaction to restock, recharge or catch your breath.

Even if it's just for a moment.


What to Expect

Walking into a room filled with potential spectators can feel like stepping onto a magical stage. But what can you expect?

A woman blowing out candles at a party surrounded by her friends
Don't interrupt conversations or important social group moments

It can be as simple as walking up to a table or small group, flashing a smile, and saying, "Hi! I'm a magician, and management hired me to entertain you for a few minutes tonight while you enjoy your drinks."

Expect to perform quick and impressive tricks for small groups, leaving them wanting more.

Buckle up, dear conjurers, as we reveal the mystical secrets:

  • Most people are excited and ready for fun. Most people you'll encounter are festive and eager for a good time and a sprinkle of wonder. Some aren't. Be prepared for both, and don't take it personally.

  • Your job is to entertain. You've been summoned to perform magic, dazzle minds, and possibly make that awkward silence in the room disappear. You're not just a magician; you're social glue, conversation starter, and mood enhancer!

  • Understand The Three A's: Approach, Amaze, Adios: This triad is the essence of your walk-around success. How you approach, dazzle, and make your graceful exit is critical. But let's not get ahead of ourselves; we're about to dive into the first A.


The Three A's of Walk-Around Magic

Let's take a look at the fundamentals of your first walk-around close-up magic gig with the Three A's.

Understand the Three A's of Walk-Around Magic: Approach, Amaze, Adios
It's Essential to understand the "Three A's" of walk-around magic

The Approach – Your Opening Act

Approaching a group may seem daunting, but you'll win them over with a sprinkle of charm and a dash of confidence.

Here's how:

  • Small Groups, Big Magic: Approach smaller gatherings with a friendly demeanor, but remember, not everyone wants to see magic. Some are simply waiting for their turn at karaoke.

  • Too Many Rejections? Change Your Tactics: If you're met with more "no's" than a toddler refusing broccoli, consider altering your approach.

  • Half-Step and Wait: Approach the group and pause. Half-step away signals your wish to join, like a polite dance invitation.

  • Timing is Everything: Wait for a break in conversation. Interrupting Aunt Sally's story about her cat might not win you fans.

  • Introduce Yourself and Ask: Two possible ways to approach, I prefer to politely introduce myself, what I've been hired to do, and how long I intend to dazzle. The other way is...

  • Introduce Yourself with Flair: The alternative is to interrupt with a bang. Usually, some visual trick or an unexpected setup "Did someone drop this?"

  • Set Expectations and Hook 'Em: Once you've introduced yourself, quickly propose a magical interlude. Follow with a strong hook that snags attention.

  • Read and Engage the Group: Identify the dominant social butterfly and make them your ally. Involve them early and make them look good among the group.

  • Everyone Shines Like Stars-- Always: Engage the group, make them feel special, and let them bask in the magical limelight. Don't put anyone down or make anyone the butt-end of a joke.

Two small groups of people socializing
Like a double lift, approaching a group or table is a skill you'll quickly learn.

So there is the wondrous world of what to expect for approaching a group as a walk-around magician.

You're now armed with the knowledge to approach, enchant, and exit with style.

And remember, if you ever feel stuck, imagine everyone naked in wizard hats-- it won't help your approach, but it's bound to conjure a smile.

2) Amaze - What to Do Once You've Got Their Attention 🌟

So, you've managed to catch their eyes, you crafty magician, you!

Now, what's next?

Sit back, relax, and grab your favorite deck as we dive into the "Amaze" phase.

Here's what to remember:

  • Perform Three or So Tricks: You've hooked them. Now dazzle them! A trio of mesmerizing tricks should do the trick (pun intended).

  • Be Personable: Give them a smile, a wink, or a friendly nod. Make them feel like they're hanging out with the coolest wizard in town.

  • Everyone Likes to Hear Their Name: Personalization is key! It's like music to their ears, without the annoying catchiness of "It's a Small World."

  • 5 to 10 Minutes is Usually an Average Time: Don't overstay your magical welcome. Keep it short, sweet, and spellbindingly memorable.

Next, let's look at your Hasta La Vista, baby.

3) Adios -- Know When to Leave 🎩👋

Ah, the art of the magical exit. It's like a well-timed joke but without the drum rimshot at the end.

Here's how to bid adieu like a pro:

  • It's Always Better to Leave Them Wanting More: You're not a sitcom rerun. Keep them craving your magical essence.

  • Thank Everyone for Their Time: Politeness is a spell that never fails. Cast it generously.

  • Find Ways to Mention or Promote the Business or Establishment: A little shoutout never hurts. Pretend as if the owner's mother or sibling is in the group-- sucking up all the time is a surefire way to be right once.

  • Have Business Cards in Your Pocket: You're a Wizard. Make sure they know how to find you again if someone asks. Do you have a business card?

  • Be Prepared to Take a Selfie: Sometimes, the group might ask for a photo with their new favorite wizard. Smile, pose, and make sure your hat's on straight!

So there you have it! Now you know how to amaze and say goodbye with the elegance of a magical swan and the charm of a mischievous leprechaun. Conquer those magical gatherings, but remember to pack some breath mints. No one likes a smelly magician.

No one. 🌬️🪄

Let's take a look at what you should pack with you for the gig.


Preparation Checklist

Get ready to turn your pockets into a magician's toolbox!

A wine glass with a deck of cards inside and one card is floating
Build your set around three or four tricks, but its a good idea to have a few extras on hand.

From bills to cards, ensure you have what you need. But don't forget the best tool of all: practice.

If you've just been booked for your first paid walk-around gig, I suggest heading to situations where you can practice for free. Go to bars, mingle with strangers, and learn from every mistake.

Like a famous person once said (probably), "Experience is simply the name we give our magic mistakes."

Here's your checklist:

  1. Hand Moisturizer: Not just for the beauty-conscious! Supple hands make for smoother sleight-of-hand tricks. Keep that magical touch at its prime.

  2. Band-aids: You just never know.

  3. Extra Deck of Cards and Supplies: Always be prepared for a mishap or an encore. An extra deck is like a magician's insurance policy. And you never know when you'll need that extra silk scarf or invisible ink!

  4. Breath Mints: Ready to whisper the universe's secrets into someone's ear? Fresh breath ensures your audience is focused on your magic and not your minty or not-so-minty exhale.

  5. Business Cards: You never know when you'll encounter a fan eager to book you for their next event or connect on the astral plane of social media. Have your cards ready to make networking magic.

  6. Promotional Material: Flyers, posters, enchanted scrolls—whatever gets the word out! Be ready to promote upcoming shows or products. A well-timed advertisement can be as dazzling as a well-executed trick.

Pro Tip: Keep an emergency kit and a magician's emergency kit in your performance bag. A well-prepared magician is a successful magician.


What to Avoid

When walking around and captivating group after group with your mesmerizing magic, you're like a conjuring conductor, orchestrating a symphony of surprises.

But alas, even the most seasoned sorcerers must beware of a few potential pitfalls:

  1. Highly Technical Magic Tricks: This isn't the time for that secret seven-phase, double-backflip card routine you've been working on. Save it for a more intimate setting where your audience can truly appreciate the nuance. You'll be amazed by the impact of a thumb tip. Here, simple yet stunning wins the day!

  2. Overloading Your Set: Magic is like a fine wine or an all-you-can-eat buffet; there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. Focus on about three pieces of magic per set. Each set lasts 6 to 10 minutes. Choose the most reliable, crowd-pleasing tricks you can perform in your sleep (but please, don't actually fall asleep).

  3. Worrying About Repeat Tricks: Remember, you're performing to one group at a time, not an arena. It's okay to do the same three tricks for different groups.

  4. Ignoring the Dynamics of the Group: A keen sense of observation is as crucial as a broken-in deck of playing cards. Read the room, adapt to the group's energy, and avoid forcing magic onto uninterested spectators. Consent is key!

  5. Forgetting the Personal Connection: Your magic should dazzle, but your personality should enchant. Engage with your audience, connect, and make them feel special. It's not just about the trick; it's about the moment you create.


Tips & Suggestions

  • Set Lists: Have two set lists of three different tricks per set. Leave 'em wanting more, but not too much more!

  • Approaching Strangers: Try different approaches, but a big smile and an engaging introduction work wonders.

  • Foster Reactions: Encouraging your group to be the coolest group in the room by encouraging reactions is one way build curiosity with other groups-- and make your approach effortless.

  • Amount of Tricks: Whether it's three solid tricks or 10-12 overall, it's about knowing your audience and the event. In 30 odd years of performing, some magicians find that less is ALWAYS more.

  • Messing Up: Learn how to mess up, and realize it's not the end of your magical world.

  • Wink at a Famous Person: Well, maybe not, but do have fun and engage authentically.



Ah, we've reached the magical finale, the grand illusion, the end of our enchanted journey together!

Let's recap the captivating triple-A's of walk-around wizardry: Approach, Amaze, and Adios. Grab your cloak; it's summary time!

The Grand Conclusion: A Magical Recap 🎩✨

  • Approach: The first step into magical stardom is all about the entry. Like a well-trained cat tiptoeing into a room, your approach must be gentle, curious, and, most importantly, kind and welcoming. Wait for the conversation to breathe, introduce yourself, and win them over fast.

  • Amaze: Now that you've got their attention, it's showtime! Dazzle them with a few spellbinding tricks, be the personable sorcerer you were born to be, and wrap it up in a neat 5 to 10-minute package. It's like a magical sandwich, and you're the delicious filling.

  • Adios: Leaving can be as memorable as arriving if you play your cards right (and we know you've got plenty of those!). Bid them farewell with grace, thank them as if they've just granted you three wishes, and move on to dazzle the next group.

Remember, the path of a walk-around magician is paved with charisma, charm, and well-timed comedy.

With the proper preparation, a sprinkle of wisdom, and a dash of humor, you'll turn your first gig into the first of many.

You've got the skills to pay the magical bills; now go forth and conquer!


That's It!

You've got this! I hope this Magician Masterclass blog post has helped you.

Let me know by hitting the ♥️ heart button below.

Share your comments, questions or tips below and don't forget to check out these other posts.


What to Read Next:

Ryan Joyce - Magician, Illusionist, Hypnotist & Speaker

​Ryan Joyce is the Executive Director of the Ontario OWOW Magic Festival. Ryan is a professional magician, entertainer and speaker who has performed over 5000+ shows worldwide. He has appeared on Penn & Teller's Fool Us, Canada's Got Talent and every Canadian national television network. He has over 10+ million views on YouTube, Facebook and social media and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies to deliver world-class performance.


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