There are some spine-tingling events brewing in North Brooklyn this Halloween, and this séance is no exception—part immersive microtheatre, part cocktail party and part magic show, The Other Side is entertaining, mind-bending and a little spooky.
My night started off unassumingly enough in a Williamsburg apartment, where I mixed and mingled with twelve other formally dressed guests at an intimate cocktail gathering. Our venerable host, world-renowned mentalist Jason Suran, announced each guest to the group by name as we arrived, and encouraged everyone to get to know each other over h’ors d’oeuvres and drinks. He asked us each to write down the name of someone close to us that had passed, fold up the paper and keep it to ourselves. Then the group gathered around a coffee table to hear Jason tell us a little history of mentalism—which included tales about fly-by-night psychics, clairvoyants, tricksters and Harry Houdini. The stage was set for the unearthly night we were about to have.
Jason then performed a few miraculous feats for us, and I don’t want to give too much away but one of them I’d seen legendary mentalist Derren Brown perform on TV. Brown is pretty transparent about his trickery, but still never ceases to impress. In person, Jason’s take on the trick was masterful and totally entertaining, involving our whole group in some injury-defying fun.
Then we headed downstairs to the basement for the formal séance. Again I don’t want to spill all the beans, but it’s important to note that Jason was able to contact the people we had written down, and divine their names. One woman cried, others laughed in delight, and most of us dropped our jaws. But the fun really began after all the lights were extinguished. The group tightly held hands around the table, instructed to NOT LET GO, even if strange things started to happen in the room. And, much to everyone’s terrifying delight, spirits emerged out of the darkness. We screamed and laughed and squeezed the hands of our neighbors overly tight as we were surrounded by unknown otherworldly presences.
Despite being a believer in ghosts and a believer in magic, I went into this experience a little skeptical. I knew ahead of time that the night was going to be presented as entertainment, so how remarkably supernatural could it really be? And that’s the thing—we all allowed ourselves to suspend our disbelief for a moment and revel in the frightening fun.
But perhaps the grandest illusion of them all was not letting anyone notice that the entire back of my fabulous vintage dress, from butt to knee, had totally ripped open along the seam. It was my first time wearing the dress, and apparently the thread was so weak that it completely disintegrated when I sat down. When I stood up I could actually feel the breeze on my ass cheeks. But by performing some tricks of my own, hopefully none of the other guests were the wiser.
You can grab tickets to The Other Side on their site; there are a few more shows with tickets still available before Halloween (this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10pm). The experience lasts about two hours, and includes complimentary wine, cocktails and h’ors d’oeuvres. Formal attire is required.