For Abigail Spinner McBride, the magic moment happened when she first laid eyes on her future husband, Jeff McBride. It just took a while to percolate.
"I saw him around the campfire one night," Abigail said. "I knew he was the one, and I knew I was not ready."
Jeff, a magician, and Abigail, a musician and dancer, met at the Rites of Spring, a conference in Massachusetts focused on music, magic and mythology.
The pair connected as friends and coworkers and traveled for nine years performing magic and music.
"We were great traveling companions," McBride said. "There was no hanky-panky. We were involved with other people."
The time they spent together gave them a solid base of friendship on which to build a romantic relationship. They knew each other's quirks and how to deal with them.
"For instance, I know if Jeff doesn't eat, he gets a little snarky," Abigail said. "If I walk in after being out all day and say, 'Hi, I'm home,' and he barks at me, instead of taking it personally I can go to the fridge and get him some cheese, put it on a cracker and say, 'Eat that.' "
These days, Jeff is on the road about half of the year, and Abigail comes along on about a third of those trips.
"If I'm going to some small town, she stays here," Jeff said. "If I'm going to London, Paris or Bali, she's more likely to come along."
At home in the Whitney area, Abigail keeps the house, garden and their magic school up and running and works as a part-time massage therapist at several tourist corridor hotels.
"It really works out," Jeff said, "me spinning around the globe and her holding center here."
With the advent of Skype, they're never far apart.
Even at home, each has his and her own space.
A two-story addition to the home highlights the couple's differences and similarities. His space on the ground floor is a library filled with arcane tomes and bizarre oddities, including a replica of the Feejee Mermaid, a fake taxidermy creation shown by P.T. Barnum. The mermaid was a gift from Abigail to Jeff.
Her realm on the upper floor is a dance studio, an open space of hardwood floors, natural light and mirrors.
Both spaces, dark and light, are used for teaching and study.
Abigail and Jeff team up on "Wonderground," a monthly event at The Olive, a Mediterranean restaurant at 3850 E. Sunset Road. Part magic and variety show and part Burning Man, "Wonderground" recently celebrated its second anniversary at The Olive.
" 'Wonderground' came out of a vision I had about drawing together the Las Vegas magic and performance art community," Jeff said. "There's a lot of artists here (who) don't have regular venues, and there's a lot of international artists passing through Vegas doing corporate gigs and doing other special events."
On top of showcasing talent that might not be seen locally, Jeff uses the event as a place to stretch his creative wings and showcase new illusions. Most "Wondergrounds" Abigail's belly dancing troupe, the New World Rhythmatism Dancers, perform an improvised dance session.
The next "Wonderground" is scheduled for Thursday. Doors are set to open at 7:30 p.m., and sets are scheduled to begin at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. Admission is $10.
The McBrides have been married 10 years, and when they meet people who have been married longer, they always make a point to ask them how they do it.
"We're invested in finding ways to improve our relationship before it needs to be improved," Abigail said. "We're very into the study of compassionate communication. It's a form of nonviolent communication started by Marshall Rosenberg. It's a way of addressing conflicts and communicating about feelings before they become problematic."
To that end, the couple are open about expressing their needs and concerns to one another. For instance, she told him that she wanted him to hug her every day and that she wanted it to last for three breaths. Not too long, not too short, so they can feel connected. He requested that she read to him every night.
"A lot of relationships are like two pieces of sandpaper that rub each other smooth, but ours doesn't seem like that," Jeff said. "I forget the source, but I read that in a relationship, all that is not love will rise to the surfaces and be transformed into love."
The couple see a good, effective and romantic relationship as a form of alchemy, the medieval pursuit of turning base metals, such as lead, into gold, both figuratively and literally.
"If there is a conflict, if there is a difficulty, this is the lead, this is the first matter," Abigail said.
"How do we transform that into love?" Jeff said. "It's all potential. When issues come up, we have a process that can refine and distill and transmute the ugly stuff into something beautiful that draws us together."
For more information about Wonderground, visit vegaswonderground.com. For more information about the McBrides' shows and school, visit mcbridemagic.com.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 380-4532.