Hypnotist mesmerizes crowd, raises money

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NAUGATUCK — Ride a magic carpet. Win the horse race. Strike a pose for “Vogue.” Show your hip-hop dance skills. Speak a Martian language. Forget your name. It’s for a good cause.

Hypnotist Dan LaRosa took 13 students into the world of the subconscious Saturday night when he performed at St. Michael’s Church for the benefit of the Naugatuck High School boys’ swimming and diving team. The self-proclaimed “Dr. of Dreams” took volunteers deep into their subconscious for only an hour—but what an hour it was.

“Your brain goes from being a light bulb to a laser,” LaRosa said, describing the effect of hypnosis on the mind. “The more intelligent you are, the easier [hypnosis] will be.”

LaRosa began the show by testing audience members’ receptiveness to basic hypnosis techniques. He said these simple tests allow him to see who is open to being hypnotized; although everyone is capable, not everyone is comfortable with going under, in front of other people, he explained.

LaRosa had several volunteers, deep in trances, sit with other audience members. When LaRosa said the word, ‘omega,’ the volunteers reacted as if they had been pinched by the people sitting next to them. When LaRosa said his full name, the volunteers immediately began to flirt with the people beside them. 

LaRosa explained there are several levels of the subconscious. After about 35 minutes of hypnosis, volunteers were at the deepest level, which explains why people who get hypnotized do not remember anything that happened, unless prompted by the hypnotist.

Tickets to the show were $10 per person. According to NHS boys’ swim parent Ginger Fennel, proceeds will be used to buy new swimsuits and T-shirts for the boys. The team captains and their parents met before the season to design fundraisers and set a $5,000 goal for the year.

Saturday’s event was the first of the fundraisers; swimmers were asked to sell about four tickets each. In total, 129 people attended the show and about $550 went to the swim team. 

“So far, I’ve only heard positive feedback [from the show],” Fennel said. “Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and are still talking about [the volunteers].”