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Chicago’s New Magic Lounge


Magic LoungeThere was a time when magicians knew that Chicago was the place to see the very best “Close Up Magic”. This can be traced to 1925, when tavern owner Matt Schulien would entertain his customers with intimate illusions, performed at their tables, involving equipment no more complicated than ordinary coins and playing cards. This would start a tradition where even well-known magicians like Jay Marshall and Harry Blackstone Sr. would perform tricks table-side while people waited for their meals.

Soon, a number of venues offering magic as part of their line-ups sprang up. Chicago’s bar magic gave rise to the careers of JC Wagner, Doc Eason, and the legendary Heba Haba Al. Bar magicians were essential to the early magic clubs in Chicago. None was more famous than the New York Lounge in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. That magicians that worked that bar became the who’s who of the Chicago Magic scene.

Magic LoungeHowever, these waned in popularity during the 1980s and ’90s with even Schulien’s finally closing in 1999.  Sleight-of-hand manipulation became associated with trade shows, casinos and the close up rooms outside of Chicago at The Magic Castle and The Magic Island.

Joey Cranford, John Sturk and other colleagues in the Society of American Magicians were not content to let that continue. A few solo shows may still enjoy regular runs, but the Magic Lounge at the Uptown Underground is the only permanent stage in Chicago offering feats of legerdemain to audiences seeking an evening of magical entertainment.

Here is a news story about The Magic Lounge from Chicago’s Fox affiliate.
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Stage magic, table side magic, barside magic, backroom magic are all performed in completely different circumstances with one constant. You will be amazed. Christopher Moore once wrote “children see magic because they look for it,” and at the Chicago Magic Lounge, you can’t help but see it.



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