The Cape Town Magic Club Steps Into The Spotlight For The Holidays
The Cape Town Magic Club, which shortly will be celebrating its two year anniversary, has emerged from its entrancing, secret city-centre locations to enthral tourists in one of the country's most accessible and recognisable spots.
Cape Town is magical in more ways than just the magnificent views and world class facilities - it is, of course, home to the College Of Magic, a unique school, which opened nearly 40 years ago, that has been imparting life skills to young people that they attain as they learn and perfect the performance art of magic. Consequently the city has a rather large and diverse magic community and professional entertainers from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of skill levels, interests, and performance styles.
Above: Olwethu Dyanti, Black Jack, Sebastiano Olla, Alan Marriott, Anele Dyasi, and Mawonga Gayiya at a Monday Night Magic performance.
Yet, unless you visit
the College Of Magic itself or happen to catch a specific magician's usually short run at a theatre, it's not very easy to experience this culture, especially if you are a tourist.
That all changed in 2016 when magician and speaker Marcel Oudejans gathered a few local performers who were game for an experiment and launched the Cape Town Magic Club
and its weekly event, Monday Night Magic, which is associated with the comparable events in London and New York. The first "season", as the performance runs are termed, opened in an intimate theatre in a secret basement in the heart of the city at the Cape Town Club, which is opposite the Company's Garden, a few steps from St George's cathedral, and a block away from the Mandela Rhodes Place and Taj Cape Town hotels.
Above: The Cape Town Club's secret underground bar, which was part of the venue for the Cape Town Magic Club's first, second, and fourth seasons.
Patrons entered the club through an unexceptional door in Victoria Street, where they were greeted by women dressed as flappers. After receiving their tickets and seat allocations they were led through a secret doorway disguised as a bookcase under a staircase to the underground location, which featured a bar and seating area where guests could mingle before the performance that then took place in another room off the bar area.
The roster of performers changed with each performance so no two nights were ever the same, which encouraged patrons to return for a new, unique experience and the opportunity to see a wide selection of magicians.
Season 1 proved to be a hit with audiences and resulted in the debut of a second season in the same venue later that year.
Above: Marcel Oudejans, the Cape Town Magic Club's founder, greets patrons in his steampunk gear during season 3 of Monday Night Magic.
2017 saw a change in venue for season 3 - the theatre was set up in the large back room at one of the world's most famous coffee shops, the Steampunk themed Truth Coffee in Buitenkant Street, offering locals and tourists alike the opportunity to explore another (semi) secret spot in the city that few have seen.
Season 4 saw the event return to the secret underground space at the Cape Town Club, which gave those who hadn't yet experienced Monday Night Magic one more chance to see inside the building and discover one of its secrets, as it usually isn't open to the public.
Above: Matt Gore, The Ginger Ninja, entertains the audience at Truth Coffee during season 3 of Monday Night Magic.
At the same time momentum was building within the magic community as an increasing number of performers had now debuted at the Cape Town Magic Club. With that accomplishment comes a prestigious lapel pin that most performers wear with pride, as well as free access to future shows, which has resulted in many members of the magic community gathering on Monday Nights to support their peers and enjoy a great evening's worth of entertainment. For visitors this has meant the possibility of glimpsing even more performers in impromptu action after the show at the bar or in the street as spontaneous magic always results when a group of magicians gets together.
Even better, the best was yet to come.
Marcel Oudejans secured an absolute coup for season 5, which ran during September and October this year: the location would be the underground vault of the old South African Reserve Bank/BOE Building in St George's Mall, which was built in 1890.
Above: The Reserve, on St George's Mall in Cape Town, was the location for season 5 of Monday Night Magic. Usually this entrance is closed - few have had the chance to discover the building's secrets and instead have had to be satisfied with photographing the impressive doors.
The building now belongs to the five star Taj Cape Town hotel and is called The Reserve. The main space is used for private dining functions but the vault, which is quite small, probably receives very few guests now that it has been emptied of its treasures. The hotel is known for its meticulous attention to service and details (most of the time
) - as such, you can't just barrel in with your theatre production and be offered a space, you have to have a proven track record of excellence. Monday Night Magic had attained that reputation and the deal was struck.
As a result, season 5 was spectacular - arguably it was the best season so far. It offered everything that magic fans could dream of: a great selection of magicians (officially and unofficially) to complement a truly exclusive, world class venue that's centrally located, resulting in a wonderful night out on the town for visitors.
Above: Black Jack, a comedic street magician from the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, by way of Johannesburg, was a special guest during season 5 - and one of its highlights.
Season 5 wasn't the end of the shows for the year, however. Usually there are breaks between the seasons just to give everyone a little breather but within days of season 5 concluding season 6 was announced - intentionally just in time for the December holidays and the influx of visitors as Marcel Oudejans had been working hard behind the scenes to negotiate a more accessible venue in time for the tourist season.
This time the venue is a little different. Rather than set up in an intriguing location few have visited, the show has moved to a prominent location at the V&A Waterfront, one of the city's biggest tourist attractions. The reason for this is to make it easier for even more international visitors to experience the magic.
Consequently the shows are taking place inside the Forum Conference & Banquet Centre, a venue in the V&A Waterfront complex that's almost impossible to miss. Visitors are also able to take advantage of an optional deal that combines Monday Night Magic with a meal at Ginja Restaurant
, which is also at the Waterfront.
The season 6 venue offers more seating space and has enabled the Cape Town Magic Club to debut a new series of shows, called Masters Of Magic, which are held at 2pm every Sunday. These shows, which feature one performer for an hour, are specifically designed to be suitable for families that include young children.
In contrast, the Monday Night Magic shows, which last up to an hour and a half and include a selection of performers, are better suited to adults. There is always a 7pm Monday Night Magic show, which will be adjusted to suit teenagers should some pop up in the audience, and if demand requires it there is also a 9pm show. The later it is in the evening, though, the more risqué the performances become so pick your slot wisely.
Season 6 concludes on 18 December with a Monday Night Magic performance and then it's anyone's guess as to what will happen next. Although, as a Capetonian, I personally prefer the special, private venues that have offered limited access, the V&A Waterfront is the perfect location for the tourist season, which is just kicking off. With luck, the Cape Town Magic Club's season 7 will debut in time to catch the visitors who will be here early in the new year - we're spoilt in Cape Town and it's great that new friends from around the world get to experience some of the magic too.
There are four Cape Town Magic Club dates left for season 6: Masters Of Magic with Marcel Oudejans on 10 December; Monday Night Magic on 11 December with Marcel Oudejans, Alexander May, Olwethu Dyanti, Bon Bon burlesque (9pm only), and Greg Gelb; Masters Of Magic with Colin Underwood on 17 December; and Monday Night Magic on 18 December with Alan Marriott, Asiphe Mnqika, Bon Bon burlesque (9pm only); and Colin Underwood.
Mandy J Watson was a media guest at the opening of the Cape Town Magic Club and during one of the season 5 performances.
Tags: arts and culture
, Cape Town