Are you afraid of the dark? Have you ever imagined what it might be like to be blind? Embrace your fears and check out the Seattle Blind Cafe, or a Blind Cafe event in other cities around the USA and world!
What is the Blind Cafe?
The Blind Cafe is a traveling dinner experience where the participants get to experience blindness, if only for a few hours, and learn more about life of the blind. It’s been to many major cities in the US and the world. They serve vegan and gluten free (except for the bread) meals. The experience costs $95, except there are discounts available if you use Groupon or can’t afford the entry fee.
Spoiler Alert – stop reading if you have plans to visit a Blind Cafe soon and want to be surprised. Read on if you want to find out what goes on inside a Blind Cafe.
I first saw a blind restaurant in the movie “When in Rome”. The concept looked pretty neat but I never came across an opportunity to do it until now… The surprise vegan menu helped relieve some fears… there was no chance I’d find myself chomping on insects or intestines!
Preparing Yourself for the Dark
We arrived at a local banquet hall and were given a waiver that gave up our right to sue the Seattle Blind Cafe if we broke a bone or had emotional distress. We were also given a fact sheet that talks about the organization and strategies to prevent panic in the dark. There was time to sip wine and talk with the other participants. Rosh, the sighted leader of the Blind Cafe, did an introduction and required we turn off all phones and store away our watches so we would have a totally dark experience.
We paired in groups of six and were led, each person with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them, through a PVC pipe and curtain maze to prevent light from entering the banquet hall. I was surprised by how dark it was.
Finding Your Seat
We shuffled our feet as we made our way towards the center of the hall and it felt like it was even getting darker. Then we heard the blind waiter call out “Where’s the next group?” “Here” we cried. “Marco.” “Polo.” He found us in no time and we shuffled our way to the table. He placed our hand on our chair and we felt around to make sure we landed on the seat and not on the floor.
We felt around on the table in the dark and I located a large bowl, a smaller cup, and a water bottle. Each with lids so we didn’t spill them. We reached further on the table and someone located the brad basket. Another stuck her fingers in the butter. I touched something sticky that turned out to be chocolate covered strawberries. One of my table mates said he didn’t know what he was touching. I joked “Keep your hands above the table.” Another girl mentioned she was feeding herself but wasn’t getting any food and we discovered her spoon was upside down. The waiters later came out with dessert and it was a team effort to get dessert served to everyone. Somehow the chain broke down and one of the desserts just disappeared.
The number one rule was to leave all your lights off but a couple people flashed their cell phones only to be scolded by the whole room.
AMA – Ask Me Anything
My favorite part of the night was when the audience members could ask any question to Rick, the resident blind waiter. He told us loads of info ranging from how technology has changed his life, why he doesn’t have a seeing eye dog, what dating is like, and what he sees in his dreams.
To top off the night, we got to hear 3 original songs by the leader Rosh. He was very insistent that everyone be quiet so we could hear him sing.
At the end, they lit a single candle and our eyes were so adjusted to the light, it took only a single candle for the 100+ participants to make our way to the curtain maze to exit the banquet hall.
Blind Cafe Review
I really liked this experience. The vegan meal was good. The music was nice. But I especially liked the openness of Rick. I was a bit surprised that there weren’t more blind waiters – Rick appeared to be the only one. I’d recommend that anyone try this. I might do it again if it was a different organization/ different people.
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