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Profile of Hazerman15
I always wondered what exactly was parlour magic, like how would you define it.
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Profile of TheAmbitiousCard
Good question. I'm sure everyone has their own idea.
I think of it like this:

An Stand-up show that is for a small'ish group.

No special lighting
Probably no microphone

The magic castle has a "parlor room" which has tiered seating and holds about 50 people.
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Signor Blitz
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Profile of Signor Blitz
Way back then - nicer homes had a parlor or sitting area kinda like a formal front room (you remember the room that had the plastic covers on the funiture that was off limits -lol) and when the entertained way back then - the entertainment aka magician would bust his move in that room. Frank gave a great 21st century definition. Small show.
Michael Baker
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Profile of Michael Baker
The term comes from the Victorian era, when typical middle to upper class homes had parlours, or sitting rooms. The modern equivalent would be a living room, family room, or den. It should be noted that homes at that time were sometimes larger, and certainly with higher ceilings.

Parlour magic, was essentially the type of magic a performer would do in such a setting. It was almost always a form of stand up magic, using apparatus smaller than that which would need a stage. At most, the props would be hand-held, and the magic would often employ borrowed items, such as watches, hats, handkerchiefs, etc.

If you work a home party today, and are not doing strolling magic, or a seated dinner table close-up show, you are likely doing parlour magic. The average birthday party show is a parlour show for children.

~michael baker
The Magic Company
Bob Sanders
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Michael has nailed it, of course.

However, today there are a few things that make it easier to determine the venue.

Parlour magic is suited to audiences standing or seated (them, not the magician) all at the same level as the magician is standing. (Thus, a flat floor with no risers, etc.) Yes, it is not one that really should require amplified sound because with all the audience at the same level as the magician, the range is small due to obstructed audience view if standing or seated in front of others. A parlour or parlor is actually a room for receiving and entertaining. In funeral homes, the stage itself is often referred to as the parlor but does not include off stage seating or multiple levels of flooring. In the old wild west, a "parlor" was hardly part of a proper residence! (Think of it as a business.)

In-the-flat may or may not be parlour magic. It really refers to the flat floor and no tiered seating. (Tiered seating technically makes it a theater and may be seating at tables as in theaters in-the-round rather than in just chairs.) Ballrooms, award dinners and banquets are usually in-the-flat. There may be a stage or risers for the entertainers work area. With the entertainment elevated above floor level for the audience, visibility is improved and a larger audience can be entertained. A PA system may be necessary. The same props may or may not be appropriate as for parlour depending on the distance from the back of the audience.

Parlour magic is normally limited to small groups. Other magic in-the-flat could be for many hundreds in the audience.

The Parlour in Magic Castle is rather small but technically is still a theater. In Orlando there is a very famous theater that only seats 70. One of the top musicals in the nation started there. Magic here is true stage magic.

In Las Vegas, the casino (Barbary Coast) across the street (south side) from Caesar's is actually a platform show in-the-flat. The stage is huge but the room is in-the-flat. Of course, a PA is used but the stage is just another big flat surface for the entertainers. There are no curtains, etc. My guess is that the stage is much larger than the total Parlour at Magic Castle and perhaps that whole floor of the Castle.

So, in a nutshell, parlour magic is for small groups occupying the same level floor as the magician. Local use can change the meaning of parlour but not parlour magic.

If you really want to push the point, most TV magic is either parlour or close up magic for the camera and not stage magic at all. Grand Illusion is the greatest extreme from parlour magic. Some close up is parlour magic.

You asked a great question!

Perhaps a quick test of parlour magic is ask if it could be done standing in the isle of the plane by the flight attendant for all the passengers at once. If the answer is "Yes", call it parlour magic. (The passenges in the rear would not get much of a show but they will also be the last ones to the crash!)

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

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