Hidden amongst the touristy shit, absurd red busses and surveillance cameras there still lurks some old-world mystery and shadow. DSM braved the drizzle and went interesting-shit-hunting around this ancient city this week. In an 116-year-old shop called ‘Davenports Magic’ we found two people who do very interesting shit indeed. Two young magicians, who I imagined from a distance were probably named something like ‘Fernando the Magnificent’ and ‘Dame Tiffany Magicpants’, actually turned out to be known simply as Daniel Stanbridge and Stephanie Jayne.
To work here requires more than just dropping in a resume and bullshitting some retail experience.
People that work here don’t just sell tricks; they perform them. If you’re truly seeking to master the art, they even guide and teach these mysterious skills. While we chatted, Daniel manoeuvred a deck of cards absentmindedly in his hands, the deft movements revealing the thousands of hours he’s put into honing his craft, even before he demonstrated an actual trick. After completing a business degree, Daniel was feeling shitty, hunting for jobs in the corporate world, and having been interested in magic as a hobby from childhood, was gradually drawn into becoming a magician full-time. As well as selling tricks at Davenports, he also performs a few nights a week all over the country.
She had two friends at the time who were illusionists, and for a laugh she decided to learn a trick of her own from a book to show them. Then she learned another… and another… A couple of weeks and 6 magic books later she was performing simple tricks for the girls she worked with, and upon viewing their expressions of wonder, her addiction was complete. After a year immersed in the world of magic, Stephanie is now a full-time magician, performing at private parties, corporate events and weddings.
While I was in Davenports they were both more than happy to demonstrate some of their amazing illusions. Daniel casually blew my mind by effortlessly and impossibly reordering an entire deck of cards, seemingly with barely a touch, right before my eyes, selecting the one I’d chosen earlier, a two of clubs, then seemingly as an afterthought, fanned the deck to reveal all the other twos in the pack face up with the rest of the pack face down. He say’s that one’s only a 7/10 for difficulty. Which probably means only a decade or so of practice.
Then, with some coloured rubber bands on her wrist, Stephanie made me believe she may actually possess supernatural powers. She passed the bands through each other in a way I am struggling to describe in any other way than… she made them pass through each other. I was holding them. They were normal, real rubber bands. I couldn’t pull them apart because they were behind each other and looped around our fingers. Then she made them pass through each other as I was touching them like… What’s the word I’m searching for?
In a world of complexity, scepticism, special effects and technological wonders, it’s pretty awesome to see people like Stephanie and Daniel, dedicated to and excited about keeping this art form alive, and making people who believe in nothing much, believe in magic again, even for just a minute or two.