First off, there are the hats, many of them. Then, the suits, which deserve a second look. There’s a sense of camaraderie, people traveling in from around the country, everybody seems to know everybody, and there’s a lot of catching up. It’s Fashion Week basically, except that it’s mostly men.
Choomantar Magic Asia 2018 took place on July 7-8 in Hyderabad. From 1986, it’s been organized by Samala Venu and takes place every two years. There are stage shows and lectures, demonstrations of the latest products, and stalls where you can buy them, all designed to upgrade magic skills.
It takes a little to get into it, but then wham! you’re inundated. There’s the passion of the magicians: A lawyer from Kerala giving up his practice for magic, an archery coach from Hyderabad who shoots arrows without a bow for his act, the teacher and seller from a small town near Gwalior who combs Korea, Japan, and the US for unique magic goods so Indian magicians can have different acts, even if its at his loss. There’s even a 10-year-old on his 15 th show.
There’s the history: That the Great Indian Rope Trick, the mango tree trick, and basket trick are still gold standards. The present: India manufactures a lot of the world’s magic goods. That some of most popular acts are still canes that turn into silk scarves and bouquets emerging from hats. And finally, colleges that now offer courses in magic. It’s not Harry Potter, but it’s just as interesting.
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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.