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What better way to get into the Halloween spirit than with a good old-fashioned séance? Maybe a modern, swanky séance! Looking for a review on which trip to the other side delivers a truly sophisticated séance experience, with the just the right amount of spookiness? Our fearless correspondent Julie Chang Murphy attended a performance of The Other Side: A Psychological Séance led by renowned Magician and Mentalist Jason Suran. Here’s her report. Spoiler alert: it’s really cool.

a pre-Halloween swanky séance in Manhattan

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Halloween and those who hate it.  The former will start planning their elaborate costumes months ahead and embellish their homes with spooky decorations. And of course, they round up all their friends to attend the Halloween parades and parties the weekend before AND the day of.


Then there are those who refuse to wear costumes. Or if someone somehow goads them into it, they’ll put on a plaid shirt and jeans and say they’re a farmer. They’re the ones who set out a bowl of candy on the stoop and call it a day.

If (like us) you’re in a Halloween Mixed Marriage or Romantic Relationship – you love getting into the Halloween spirit and are with someone who doesn’t – we have the ideal night out for you. It’s part cocktail party, part theater and <cue creepy music> part séance.

Still not sure? Read on if you dare.

The Other Side: A Psychological Séance

Two nights ago, my husband and I attended The Other Side: A Psychological Séance led by renowned Magician and Mentalist Jason Suran.

In the Victorian era, séances were tres chic

This experience is meant to be an intimate recreation of a Victorian séance of the type that seized society’s imagination at the time. Socialites during this age loved to hire mediums to come to their parlors and entertain family and guests.

Perhaps the best-known series of séances were those of Mary Todd Lincoln who organized them in the White House, and were attended by President Abraham Lincoln, and other prominent members of society.

how spooky is the Norwood Club?

It is fitting that this encounter takes place at The Norwood Club, a historic Chelsea mansion that is home to a prestigious members-only club for New York’s creative elites. Prior to its current tony incarnation, though, like many historic residences in Manhattan the space had seen many reincarnations. Originally the home of a wealthy merchant, Andrew Norwood in the early 1800’s, the home became a boarding house for unwed women after his death. Then it was used as a funeral home up until the 70’s. Getting chills yet?

how does one dress for a séance?

After purchasing tickets, we were sent an email to dress in cocktail attire and arrive thirty minutes early for a complimentary drink at Norwood Club’s bar. The interiors have been lovingly restored, and decorated by set designer Simon Costin in a decadent and glamorous style.

Only 17 participants are allowed to have this experience at one time, which gives a small group of strangers (or friends, if you book a large group) a powerful and unifying experience. People came dressed to impress, which contributed to the festive atmosphere. Men in velvet blazers and women in dramatic black dresses with a Gothic vibe. We mingled and awaited our host for the evening.

down the secret séance stairway

Soon we were lead through a false door, taking participants down a secret stairway that is usually closed off from the rest of the club. Downstairs was an old record player playing crackly old-timey music, and photos of famous mentalists and spiritualists in black and white on the wall.

Our host, Jason, arrived. The magic was about to begin.

We entered a dark, period-decorated room where there were 17 chairs set in a circle. As we settled into our seats, Jason told us the true stories and history of some of the famous mentalists of the Victorian era, some of whom ended up abusing their powers and defrauding their clients.

what is a mentalist, anyway?

For those unfamiliar with mentalism, a quick primer. Mentalists are categorized into a branch of magic that deals with illusions of the mind. Hypnosis, clever use of psychological cues, and telepathy fall under some of their “supernatural” powers. Jason demonstrated some of the tricks that Victorian mentalists used to perform at parlor parties. I was shocked that some of them worked on me. I usually hate participatory theater. But in this instance, the intimate close-knit group served to calm my nerves and lessen my usual level of self-consciousness.

time for the séance

As the nervous giggles rose and subsided over the next hour of thrilling demonstrations, the time passed quickly. All too soon, it was time for the grand finale: the séance. <more scary music, please.>

For this portion of the event, the room went pitch black as we all held hands and summoned the spirits of the old house. There is no way I’m going to ruin this for you. I’m not saying what happened next. Let’s just say that several of the chic New Yorkers around us screamed aloud. One of them was me. And yes, I’m pretty sure that one of them was my husband.

The Other Side: A Psychological Séance

Listed in Forbes as one of the most risqué things to do in New York, the experience certainly exceeded our expectations and kicked off our ominous October season in an elegant, original and exciting way.

There are still a limited number of tickets available ($130) for the current special fall engagement. You don’t want to miss it!