Behind the Magic: The Secret of Levitating Performers

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Chances are, you’ve walked past a street performer or 100 in your lifetime. Some of them are easy to ignore, but others make us pause. Lately, the “levitating” craze has made more and more people stop and wonder…how do they do that?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Well, we’re about to take a peek behind the curtain, so if you love figuring out how magic and slight of hand work, then read on.

Levitating performers are essentially a variation of the human statue. The biggest difference between the two is that the levitating performer seems to be in such a deep meditative state that he defies the laws of physics by floating on nothing other than a cane (or staff). Generally speaking, their attire tends to be Middle Eastern or Indian in style; they often wear draped clothing, turbans, and facemasks.

The truth behind the magic is actually simpler than it seems. The street performers use a hidden metal scaffold to comfortably support themselves, and, as a result, they appear to be levitating. Their extremely baggy clothing hides the platform they sit on, and the other components of the support are hidden by various other drapes or carpets.

The device used to perform this magic trick is actually quite simple. It consists of three main components:

  1. The seat, which is for sitting on.
  2. The shaft, which – disguised as a staff – extends up from the platform, into the sleeve of the performer, and down to the seat.
  3. And the platform, which is covered by some kind of rag or blanket (as shown in the picture), while the shaft and seat are covered by the performer’s baggy clothing.

For a trick that seems so impressive, it turns out that it’s awfully simple. For a more in-depth description of how the performers “levitate,” watch the video below.


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