Photo-happy food bloggers, take heed. The Blind Cafe is coming—you’ll have to use your words, ‘cause you’ll be dining in the dark. The Blind Cafe, a Colorado-based project with a long list of altruistic goals ranging from creating jobs, educating people about blindness, and encouraging personal growth, has been traveling around the U.S. putting on dinners in the dark since its creation in 2009. The organization has been to our neighbor city, Portland, but this is the concept’s first time in Seattle.
Dining-in-the-dark restaurants first surfaced in Europe as a way for the sighted to experience the world of the blind, and to create interesting jobs for food-savvy individuals with visual impairment; in the past couple decades blind cafes have popped up all over the globe, drawing in curious diners with the promise of a new experience of food.
Though there won’t be a speck of light at the meal, there will be music (the founder happens to have a band), a Q and A about blindness, and a unique meal made up of all kind of flavors and textures. Veterans of dark dining promise that it’s a truly intense sensory (and social) experience. As your other senses amp up to pick up the sensory slack, familiar foods can become richer and more interesting. And aside from that, without sight social protocol gets a little fuzzier. Rosh, the founder of the Blind Cafe, tells the story of his first encounter with dark dining in Reykjavik, where he stumbled across a cafe much like the mobile one he runs now. He was handed a card embossed with his coffee order in braille, then plunged into the pitch-black café to fumble around for a seat. When he asked if a table was full, its occupants honestly couldn’t say, and they all had to feel around for a chair for the newcomer, happy to have another confused compatriot in the dark. Our own adventurous diner Allecia Vermillion reports that when she went to a dark dinner in Paris a few years ago, another attendee spontaneously started singing the happy birthday song, and soon enough everyone joined in. Anything can happen when you dine in the dark.
The Blind Cafe will be in Seattle June 8 and 9, at the Fremont Baptist Church at 717 N 36th Street. The tickets are on a sliding scale from $55 to $95, depending on what you can afford, but the organizers note that for the project to continue to grow, they need most people to pay more than the minimum. There are also $250 VIP tickets that include some Blind Cafe gear and access to private events in the future. Tickets are available online or by calling 800-838-3006. Check in for the dinners are at 7:30. Organizers are also looking for volunteers to help facilitate the event, call 720-935-2138.