What is the Magic Circle?

Darren Delaney outside the door of The Magic Circle Headquarters. But what is The Magic Circle and what's inside the building?

When I’m working as a magician for hire at events, people often ask me if I’m a member of The Magic Circle. (I am!) This is often followed by a series of questions about what The Magic Circle is, its history, who its members are and how you become a member.

In this post, I’ll answer the question “what is The Magic Circle?” as well as the many questions that surround that. I hope you find it interesting!

Just a note – this is about the famous magicians’ club called The Magic Circle. If you’re interested in the group of law firms, you’ll have to look elsewhere!

History of The Magic Circle

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The Magic Circle’s Blue Plaque in Soho, London

The Magic Circle is a society for amateur and professional magicians based in London, England. Billed as “The world’s premier magic society”,  it was founded at Pinoli’s restaurant in Soho in 1905 by a small group of magicians. 

Pinoli’s closed in 1949, but there’s still a blue plaque on the building marking the location.

Over the years, the club has met at various venues, starting at The Green Man pub – also in Soho, before moving on to St George’s Hall in Mayfair. 

The current headquarters is close to Euston station and opened in 1998. It boasts a theatre, clubroom, bar, museum and library. 

If you ever get to visit for a public event, you’ll probably want to snap a photo on the spiral staircase that welcomes you as you enter the building.

You can also take a peek into club and headquarters via “52 objects” on their website.

Like much of the world of magic, The Magic Circle was a bit behind the times for a long while – they only started allowing women to join in 1991! Things have changed and modernised a lot in recent years though and it really is a great, inclusive club to be part of.

Darren Delaney on the staircase at The Magic Circle headquarters
The staircase at The Magic Circle HQ is very Instagrammable

What Does the Magic Circle do?

Primarily, The Magic Circle is a members club for magicians. It’s stated aim is “is to promote and advance the art of magic.”

It does that by hosting evenings of lectures, performances and social events for members, as well as performances, talks and tours for the general public. 

It also runs the Young Magicians Club for budding wizards aged 10-18.

Club nights

Monday nights at The Magic Circle are club nights – an evening reserved for members to get together and socialise. Members get together in the bar to enjoy a drink together, and often try to fool each other with their latest magic tricks. 

There’s usually an event in the theatre – typically a talk or performance by a visiting magician. Sometimes there are small workshops on magic or performance related topics as well. I can’t tell you too much about this (I’m not allowed to reveal secrets, remember?)

Darren Delaney on stage at The Magic Circle theatre
Yours truly giving a talk at The Magic Circle theatre

Competitions

Throughout the year, the club has competitions including Close-Up Magician of the Year, Stage Magician of the Year and Children’s Entertainer of The Year. 

During the global Covid pandemic, there was also a “Virtual Magician” competition!

The Close-up Magic competition is one of the most popular events – I’ve entered and made in the final on 3 occasions, but didn’t quite manage to win the trophy!

Special mention should go to Matthew Le Mottée, who’s the only person to win “Close-Up Magician of The Year” in 3 consecutive years and Edward Hilsum, who won “Close-up Magician”, Stage Magician” and “Children’s Entertainer” in the same year.

Public magic Shows

There are magic shows for the public throughout the year at The Magic Circle’s theatre. I’ve performed in these on several occasions and they’re always brilliant fun to be part of.

No only do you get to be amazed by world-class magicians, you’ll get a tour of the building, including the museum, and learn about the history and stories behind the famous club.

Private Event Hire

The building is available for private hire for events.

Ideally located and with a fully equipped theatre, multiple rooms and a bar, it’s a great choice for an interesting venue for corporate events.

While you’re at it, why not hire a corporate event magician or two to keep everyone entertained?

Do you really get kicked out for revealing secrets?

The Magic Circle logo
The Latin motto means “not apt to disclose secrets”

This is something that people always ask – and the answer is yes!

The Magic Circle’s official motto is “Indocilis private loqui”, which roughly translates from Latin as “not apt to disclose secrets”. One of the official rules that members sign up to is “To oppose the wilful disclosure of magical secrets other than to magicians or bona fide students and historians of magic.”

Famously, Penn & Teller have been refused membership as they’ve revealed various magic tricks’ secrets during their shows.

Existing members have been kicked out too – my friend John Lenahan became the first person to be expelled for revealing a trick on the BBC. I’m glad to say he’s subsequently had his membership reinstated and is a regular visitor on club nights! 

TV star Stephen Mulhern was temporarily suspended for revealing a magic trick too.

How many magicians are members of The Magic Circle?

At the time of writing, there are around 1700 members of The Magic Circle globally.

Some members who’ve reached a higher level of performance can be awarded “Associate of The Inner Magic Circle with Silver Star”. I was delighted to be awarded this accolade recently.

Finally, at any time there are a maximum of 300 members who become “Member of The Inner Magic Circle”. This is awarded directly by the president.

Famous members

There are many famous members of The Magic Circle. Some might seem obvious, like David Copperfield and Dynamo, but there are also a few you might not have considered.

Actor and comedian Stephen Fry is a member – the then president Scott Penrose surprised him with his membership certificate during filming of “QI”.

In 1975, King Charles III (then the Prince of Wales) passed his membership audition with a performance of the classic “Cups and Balls” trick.

And finally, there is one non-human member – Sooty!

Darren Delaney on stage with Sooty at The Magic Circle
Sooty is the only non-human member!

Past presidents of The Magic Circle

Since the club’s formation, there have been 17 presidents of The Magic Circle. The first was David Devant – a well-known British magician of the time. The current headquarters has a room named in his honour, including a statue of him.

In 2021, Megan Swann became the first female president, exactly 30 years after women were allowed to join.

The current president is Marvin Berglas, owner of Marvin’s Magic. His father, the famous magician and mind-reader David Berglas, also served has president from 1989-1998.

Can anyone join The Magic Circle?

You don’t have to be a professional magician to join The Magic Circle, but you do need to be seriously interested magic! 

I wrote a blog post a while ago about how to join The Magic Circle, but briefly:

  • You have to be proposed and seconded by two existing members who’ve known you for a year or more.
  • Next, you go through an interview to establish if you’re likely to have the level of competence needed to join
  • Finally, there’s an audition – a performance in front of members and three judges. Even though it was many years ago, I remember my audition well – it was one of the most daunting performances I’ve ever done!

Once you get through all of that, you can proudly call yourself a member of The Magic Circle!

Young Magicians Club

Have a family member aged 10-18 with an interest in magic? The might be interested to join The Young Magicians Club, a youth initiative run by The Magic Circle.

On joining, young members get a welcome pack, badge, certificate magazine and a free magic trick. They get access to workshops at The Magic Circle HQ run by experienced members and a whole host of other benefits. 

Definitely worth checking out – who knows, they might become the next Dynamo or Derren Brown! 

Want to hire a magician for your event?

If you’re interested to hire a magician for an event or party, I’d be delighted to talk to you. You can book me as a magician for corporate events, or as a magician for adult parties

I don’t do kids parties I’m afraid, but if you’re looking for a children’s entertainer, I might be able to recommend a fellow Magic Circle member!

Ready for an extraordinary event?

Fill in your details and I’ll reply with availability and entertainment options for your event.

The more information you provide, the faster I’ll be able to respond – usually the same day!