The Ideal Atmosphere
To start, the lighting must soft, like that of a glow from a candle. I like dark wood and rounded half-circle tufted booths that you find in an old steakhouse if I'm doing table-side magic. That's ideal because no-one has to crank their neck too far left or right to see the magic, and I also have a lot of room to put on the show standing at the flat edge of the half-circle table. A seated audience is always best. This ensures that once I'm in position for everyone to see the performance, it doesn't change. A standing audience moves about and shifts their weight from one foot to the other and makes room for other people arriving, which is in itself an interruption. I like the people to be having a drink or two in a room with music that fuels conversation rather than drowning it out. The music, if I'm feeling it, helps me get into a rhythm that allows me to transcend my normal abilities.
A room that is too quiet will make the shy people afraid to speak because they are going to be heard by everyone in the room, effectively converting everything they say into a public speech. That is why in quiet restaurants most people whisper unless they are comfortable with their voice being heard. I don't like to perform in too quiet of a room because the people, unless they have a few cocktails in them, are often too shy to react to the performance. One of the reasons you make noise is to let the other person know you enjoy what they're doing. It's best if a pulse can be detected for interactions between two or more people.
I am giving you some of what is not ideal to help convey what is. If I say "up", you can easily think "down". If I say "black", your mind goes to "white". If I say "happy", you think "sad". A standing audience is a moving audience and if the audience doesn't stay put, effort must expended to keep up with their movements. I must constantly move about to make sure that everyone can see in the back row now that the person in the front decided to move. It is something that the audience wouldn't notice because it is second nature to me. In fact, everyone in sight must be seated. Humans are motion sensors. If someone takes a step aside to let someone else get a view of the show, the movement will grab the attention of the audience... attention that I need to keep for the people to experience magic. If they don't see what happened, there is no magic. Almost all of the venues or settings that I perform in have some type of interruption like this. The less energy I have to put into managing the atmosphere the more I can focus on the performance. An example you might be able to relate to is when your eyes are locked on the person you're having dinner with and as you are listening intently to what they are saying, the server comes to the table and asks if you need anything. You do your best to be polite, but the conversation was needlessly interrupted by an inexperienced server who doesn't understand that when someone has their eyes locked on another, that is what they are interested in.
Loud music is incompatible with the ideal atmosphere. The audience needs to be able to hear my schtick otherwise the show is reduced to visuals. A loud atmosphere where people must strain to communicate is draining. That's why I only perform in a nightclub for big money. My way of saying "no" is to charge more. If you go for it, then at least you're paying me well to do something that I don't enjoy. I take people for a ride with my performance and it can only be fully appreciated when they can hear me. If you have seen me perform, you know that it really doesn't matter what the setting is, I still do my magic. In fact, when the setting is horrible, people often comment on how fascinating it was to see how I deal with all of the interruptions and spontaneous happenings.
Thank you for reading.