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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Magic Bar Review: Cuore (Calvados) ・ クオーレ(カルバドス)

When I was on a business trip to Tokyo a long time ago, I visited several magic bars during the evenings. In Tokyo, one of the most famous entertainment districts is the Kakukicho of the Shinjuku area. There are surprisingly few magic bars there (but apparently a lot of sex industry aimed at English speaking foreigners, judging by the number of annoyingly persistent people trying to get me to go to such places while searching for the place I was going). After some wandering around, I found the magic bar that used to be called Calvados, but that had recently changed name to "Cuore".


I got there fairly late (after midnight) and there was a stage show going on when I entered. I got to see the last parts of that show, and then some table magic at the counter. First, the owner called Kokoro was doing some parlor magic on a small stage. Then a magician called Mikto did magic at the counter, followed by Kokoro also doing a show at the counter. Then all the other customers left. Mikto then showed me some more magic one-on-one, and we talked about magic for awhile. Later, Kokoro also came back to the counter and talked to me for awhile.


The interior of Cuore is rather cramped, to make room for the stage area. The counter looks very nice in a kind of S shape. The S shape did however make everything going on behind and below the counter very visible to me at the seat I got, which ruined a lot of the surprises during the close up magic shows since you could see exactly what was going to show up on the counter next, and often you could see exactly when the magician was secretly taking things from below the counter too. The stage also had some angle problems from where I was sitting, and from time to time it was very obvious were for instance a selected and signed card that was supposedly lost in the deck actually was, because it was right in front of my eyes. While we sometimes have even worse angle problems when doing magic at the sofa seats in the magic bar where I perform (completely surrounded in some cases), it is not a problem if you know of it and choose magic that is angle proof, at Cuore it happened quite a bit that the magic performed had some serious problems with the angles the spectators were looking from.


The stage magic that I saw was nice. There was some card going to impossible locations, floating table, a birthday cake produced from a dove pan (very popular at Tokyo magic bars it seems), a paper snow storm, and other effects. I liked a routine where a raw egg was poured into a hat, which as then places on the head of a spectator. And out came a plastic fried egg (and no sign of the raw egg). The rest of the effects were nice, but very common effects. But since most customers probably never saw magic before, showing them common (popular) effects is probably a good choice.


Next, magician Mikto did some magic at the counter. He was very good at doing magic with cigarettes. He also did some tricks with Japanese bills (1000 yen and 10000 yen change places in the spectators hand), solved a Rubick's cube blindfolded. Though he did not look that blindfolded, he was still very fast, haha. He was pretty funny, but he also did quite a lot of mistakes (thread got caught somewhere, etc.).


Kokoro then came back and did magic at the counter too. Again, he did a lot of common/popular effects and did them in a pretty standard way. Apart from the angle problems from where I was sitting making some of the effects less magical, the performance was fine though I have seen other people do the same effects funnier/better. For people who have never seen magic before, I would guess it was a very good selection of effects. There was fork bending, a light bulb that started glowing in the hand of the spectator, the "size surprise" card trick that I love (but never performed myself since a colleague does it), some rubber band effects, a hamburger showed up out of a deck of cards, a sticker depicting the selected card of a spectator was stuck under the shirt (on the arm) of a spectator, etc. There were also a lot of wordplay gags in Japanese, not all of which I could catch. Things like saying "shaku ni sawaru" (meaning something annoying you, so "[being fooled again] annoying, isn't it?") and pulling out a ladle (also "shaku" in Japanese, though a different word pronounced the same).


Finally, after everyone else left, Mikto came and spoke to me for a long while and showed me some more magic. He talked about how he hitchhiked all the way from Tokyo to Sapporo and made a living by doing magic in the streets and other things. He showed me some more cigarette magic and a card trick he used to do in the streets.


Finally, something that impressed me was that there were a lot of autographs and photos of famous people visiting Cuore stuck to the walls. I guess in Tokyo there are many famous people!


Location: Conveniently located in the huge Shinjuku entertainment district Kabukicho, which is worth visiting anyway.
Type of magic: Parlor and close up
Quality of magic: OK
Cost: Around 4500 yen for me, depends on how long you stay
Interior: Beautiful, but causing some angle problems for some of the magic performed.
Staff: Nice, spoke to me about all kinds of things
Overall impression: Nice with parlor magic and close up magic. Lots of popular standard effects.


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