Not sure if you want to take the plunge into the dizzying world of the University’s 200+ societies? Don’t know your Blowsoc from your Bladesoc? The Socumentaries team endeavours to sample as many societies as possible so you don’t have to.

Soc-umentary – A factual article about a society, presenting the facts with little or no fiction. As in, ‘Did you see that socumentary about Fashion? That shit cray.’

This week, we decided to go socumentarying with UoN’s MagicSoc, the UK’s largest student magic society. Eric, their president, had told us to be prepared to stay until late, because “who doesn’t love magic”. Well, how could we say no to an invite like that? Arriving without a pack of cards prompted a bit of first-day-at-school nerves when we saw the other members eagerly clutching theirs.

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There was a decent turn out, with people still arriving half an hour in to the session. We all took a seat and the exec team eagerly pointed us Socumentary-ers out to the group, warning them to be on their best behaviour for the review. Covert we were not.

You’ve got to make it look easy.

The session takes the format of demonstrations of a trick, explanation of how it’s done and then we’re all sent to try it out for ourselves. The first trick was performed by Samuel, treasurer, and apparently it went horribly wrong. I didn’t notice, but here’s trick-of-the-trade #1: most of the time, when a magician tells you it’s going wrong, it’s not. He’s distracting you.

We were handed a pack of cards each and told to get practicing. Learning card tricks is a lot like learning choreography. There’s a load of different steps to remember, positions to get in that won’t give away what you’re doing to the audience, and you’ve got to make it look easy.

You shouldn’t expect to turn up to MagicSoc and find you’ve got a ‘natural talent’. You don’t.

It’s a real learning exercise and you shouldn’t expect to turn up to MagicSoc and find you’ve got a ‘natural talent’. You don’t. You need to put in the work – one member told us that for every hour he spends on a trick in MagicSoc he’ll spend about 4 hours perfecting it outside. Luckily the execs were keen to teach, but there are so many members that you don’t get as much one-on-one help as you might need.

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So by the end of the two hour session, what had we achieved? Well, we’d been sufficiently embarrassed in front of a room of 30 with my poor magic abilities; we’d been sucked up to with some complimentary praises of Impact; we’d learned there is such a thing as a fake shuffle, and we’d done a bit of genuine oohing and aahing at some pretty impressive tricks.

Chatting with the pros:

Next stop was Mooch, where the after-party was partly for leisure, partly a bit of advertising. A few people came over asking to see a trick, and the execs did some casual performances – one of which ended in a flaming wallet, which caught a lot of people’s attention. Meanwhile we took the chance speak to Vice-President Tim and last year’s President Rahul…

What sparked your interest in magic?

Tim: I saw the society at Fresher’s fair in my first year and have been going along ever since.

Rahul: Same. I started magic over summer before I began at Nottingham but Fresher’s Fair was where I decided to stick with it.

Do you think magic has changed much since the days of pulling a rabbit out of a hat?

Tim: Most of the new stuff is just the old stuff but with more flair. Technology has helped too – there are loads of props that weren’t around 100 years ago.

Rahul: Magic has much more of a cool appearance now. Look at someone like Dynamo; that’s why more young people get in to it now.

What levels do you cater for at MagicSoc?

Tim: All of them! We welcome novices as well as pros. We’d love for someone who’s more skilled than the execs to turn up. We like to train people and it’s satisfying to see them turn out better than we are!

Finally, and most importantly…what’s your favourite Harry Potter film?

Tim: I’ve only seen the first 4. But I wouldn’t mind working a bit of magic on Hermione.

Rahul: Deathly Hallows 2, hands down.

***
So, what did we think of MagicSoc? Well, you’ll have a great time if you want to commit to learning magic, otherwise you’ll find yourself sitting around talking to your mates for most of the session.
WORTH A GO IF: you fancy picking up a new hobby and are willing to put the effort in.

Sam Carey 

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