Magic Castle Cabaret Hosts Spectacular New Year’s Eve Bash

There Was Magic, Dance, Music, and Much More at New Private Montecito Club

Owners Milt and Arlene Larsen | Credit: Gail Arnold

It was quite fitting that the Magic Castle Cabaret, which celebrates magic and fun year-round, would throw a spectacularly entertaining New Year’s Eve party. Owners Milt and Arlene Larsen (who also founded the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood) pulled out all the stops on New Year’s Eve for about 80 guests at its Montecito club.

At the private club, which opened last February, guests were greeted in the Grand Hall by staff and showered with party favors and hats. The multi-room venue was still decked out with holiday decor and for the New Year’s celebration, exuberance was added with hundreds of colorful balloons and myriad other decorations and party favors. 

There were plenty of gourmet treats from Chef Michael Hutchings and champagne flowing throughout the venue, but the real treat was all the entertainment.  The Cabaret Rhythm Kings played for the first few hours and at the stroke of the New York New Year (9 pm), a dozen members of La Boheme Dance Group effervescently poured into the lounge and graced guests with their joyously unrestrained dance, doing several fun, celebratory numbers. 

Of course there was also magic! Truly remarkable magic by world-renowned magician Shawn McMaster, whose jaw-dropping acts were brilliantly complemented with light-hearted humor. Magician Kris Sheppard also wowed guests. As always at the Magic Castle Cabaret, the magic was in an intimate setting, making the experience for every guest personal and the magic all the more impressive.

DJ Scott Topper played disco tunes in the Cabaret Room and did the midnight countdown in tandem with Milt Larsen, who enthusiastically banged a huge gong. Guests danced away and bid farewell to the decade. 

Earlier in the evening, Arlene Larsen smiled at the lounge full of happy guests and remarked on how the limited number of members allows members to come frequently and often run into their friends. Unlike the Magic Castle in Hollywood, which has 5,000 members, membership at the Cabaret is capped at 300.  With warmth and a big smile on her face, Arlene shared how welcoming members and their friends to the Cabaret is like welcoming them into her home, which she quite clearly enjoys.

Located on the site of the former Café del Sol, the Magic Castle Cabaret features top magicians, all members of the Academy of Magical Arts, whose clubhouse is the Magic Castle in Hollywood, the mecca for magicians worldwide.  Among the star performers have been Richard Burton, Steve Valentine, Shoot Ogawa, Jade, and Rafael Benatar.  In the lounge each night, the Cabaret Rhythm Kings (Dennis Berger, Luca Ellis, René Martinez, Ruben Martinez, and Brendan Statom) perform 1930s and 1940s era jazz.

The Cabaret’s interior decor is based on what the Larsens imagine the fictional Palace of Gold in Northern Spain, where a Count and Countess entertained magicians, would look like. The space exudes old world elegance and extravagance, yet its intimate size and Milt and Arlene’s warmth and friendliness make it also completely comfortable. The decor includes historical vaudeville and theater items from the Larsens’ lifetime collection. Gold and deep red accents are at every turn.

Celebrities who have joined the club so far include Steve Martin, Leonard Maltin, Ron Masak, Penn & Teller, Paul Rubin, Siegfried & Roy, Fred Willard, Jo Anne Worley, Lance Burton, David Copperfield, Jeff Bridges, and Alan Parsons. 

The Cabaret is open Wednesday through Saturday, with two shows each evening in the 25-seat Cabaret Room, followed by more magic in the Lounge. Among the star magicians already booked for 2020 are Johnny Ace Palmer, Andrew Goldenhersh, and Jon Armstrong. 

For membership info, contact magiccastlecabaret@aol.com; 805 845 0555.

For coverage of other events, go to independent.com/society. Send invites to gail@independent.com.

Photo: Gail ArnoldMaria Wilson, Karen Tammela, and Ginni Dreier
Photo: Gail ArnoldSarah Seals, Richard Stokes, and Magic Castle Cabaret singer Tiffany Story
Photo: Gail ArnoldLa Boheme Dance Group performs.
Photo: Gail ArnoldKeiko Dunham and Dr. Roger Dunham
Photo: Gail ArnoldStaff member Gabriel Rivera in the Grand Hall
Photo: Gail ArnoldMagician judge Christina Nyman and magician Martin Saunders, visiting from Luxembourg
Photo: Gail ArnoldThe Cabaret Rhythm Kings perform.
Photo: Gail ArnoldLa Boheme Dance Group performs.
Photo: Gail ArnoldGuests celebrate.
Photo: Gail ArnoldOwners Milt and Arlene Larsen

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