For corporate, college, non-profit fundraiser, music fans and the public
What is The Blind Cafe?
The Blind Cafe is a fiscally sponsored positive social change organization, that uses the concept of darkness to create innovative and imaginative ( pop-up ) events held entirely in the pitch dark ( no blindfolds ). Our events are facilitated by professional trained 'legally blind staff'' and designed to change the way you 'see' the world. Since 2010, The Blind Cafe has had over 11,000 people through the dark.
What happens in the dark at The Blind Cafe?
Our signature program, 'The Blind Cafe Experience' is a pop-up event, an award winning community awareness concert, discussion & dinner in the dark, no blindfolds! This is NOT just another dinner in the dark…it’s a community experience where people connect, learn and break bread together without their visual conditioning, social etiquette and cell phones.
There are three components to The Blind Cafe Experience:
A Social Dinner Experience In The Dark
What's on the menu? Community... locally sponsored (vegan & gluten-free) friendly food, dark chocolate, good friends, inspiring stories, live music and meaningful conversation all in the dark. We hire a local professional Chef in each city to help design the menu encouraging them to connect with local farms, locals business’s and build relationships in the community. We source, as much as possible, the food we serve from local farms and business’s relying largely on donations from the community.
A Discussion In The Dark
In our award winning community awareness discussion, you will participate in a group discussion Q & A, between the audience ( you ) and our amazing warm heart felt legally blind keynote speakers & ambassadors. They will share their personal stories with you and you will have the chance to learn, ask questions, and discuss blindness in the dark with the entire room all paying attention.
A Music Performance In The Dark
Ever wonder what it like to experience a live music performance in complete pitch darkness? Blind Cafe Music Productions brings one of the most emotionally powerful music listening experiences possible. These unique and intimate performances bridge the gap between the artist and their audience as they're empowered to participate in an active music listening experience, in the complete and total pitch dark! Learn what it was like to experience live music without the distraction of your visual conditioning, social etiquette and cells phones.
The Blind Cafe was started by Brian Rocheleau, known by Rosh, with his friend Rick Hammond and Chef Marcus Mccauley in 2010. After experiencing a cafe in the dark in Iceland while on tour as a performing singer-songwriter, Rosh felt inspired to use the concept of darkness, to initiate positive social change experiences for people, in hopes they would have an opportunity to re-relate with their world in a more meaningful and compassionate way.
Rosh wanting to see what it was like to use the darkness as a way to build community and also to perform music, providing an experience of listening to live music in the dark for his community, without the distraction of their cells phones, social etiquette and visual conditioning.
He partnered up with a foodie friend Chef Marcus McCauley who was inspired to create a sensory tasting experience. He then met his friend Rick Hammond, a spoken word artist who happens to be blind and introduced the idea of creating a Blind Cafe Experience, where the attendees would have the opportunity to experience: 1) a social community dinner ( everyone break bread together at 6 - 8 person tables ), 2) a heart to heart discussion as a group in the form of a Question and Answer with the blind staff and the sighted audience about blindness and 3) a live music listening experience, all in complete darkness.
The experience rings people in via something they are comfortable with, dinner. But with a twist, it’s in complete darkness. The guests ( 50 - 120 ppl ) literally break bread together in the dark at community tables. This instantly takes a crowd of people who otherwise didn’t know each and would likely not interact as much or mindfully, in the light; become part of a collected experience as they are all going through the same darkness ordeal of no vision.
The darkness breaks down a lot of social barriers as everyone has a collected experience without being seen. In the dark it doesn't matter if your black, white, tall, short, blind, wearing grateful dead clothes or in a business suit. It's a powerful forum to create a social impact on people.
Then comes the educational component, where a tibetan singing bowl is rung to bring everyone’s attention together. The audience is taught to participate in an ‘active listening experience’ where they learn to listen and engage as a group. This is the blind awareness component of the event, where the legally blind waitstaff ( or ambassadors ) share their personal stories about their blindness and the audience is engaged in a question and answer forum. This is the heart to heart experience in the dark where people ask questions they would never ask in a lighted setting. The blind staff open up about their lives, it’s very intimate, personal and vulnerable. The fact that everyone is in the complete darkness, the impact of the Q & A is ten fold, due to the fact that no one has the distraction of their cell phones, or visual cues. They are intentionally setup through the active listening, to receive a more compassionate and impactful experience from the Q & A.
Next comes the live music in the dark experience. Now that they have shared food in community with one another and shared a discussion about blindness, the music gets them into their emotional bodies. Rosh & the Blind Cafe Orchestra, perform a set of 5 - 9 singer-songwriter songs accompanied by a quartet, with a varying line up of guitar, male /female vocals, cello, viola, violin and piano. Experiencing music in the dark at this point in the event is very powerful as people are allowed to be fully feel the emotional impact of music without the self conscious glances of being seen by others.
“I actually cried during your song ‘Transcend’ which is not something I would have let myself do, if I knew that people could see me. But knowing that I was invisible, it was much easier to let my emotions flow and that felt SO healthy! It was also nice to end on a higher emotional note with everyone singing and standing together. Our table was all holding hands and swaying too! I walked out of there with such a happy full heart!”
— Katie Maginnis, Seattle
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Why is the dinner usually vegan and gluten free at your public events?
a. Since The Blind Cafe is a pop up event, we don't have the kitchen set up to offer the variety of choices you might get from a regular restaurant. To welcome people from all walks of life, we make the sensory tasting dinner without dairy and most of the items gluten-free, to be as inclusive as possible.
Q: For private events does the dinner have to be vegan and gluten free?
a. No, for corporate, college and private events you choose whatever type of food you desire for your event. We serve vegan food at our public events solely to be able to include as many people as possible since, it's a community awareness outreach event.
Q: Why do you offer a sliding scale ticket price?
a. We truly care about making this event available to people from different financial back grounds. It takes a lot of heart, volunteer efforts and money to pull off these events, so we ask guests to contribute $85 or more, which helps us offer discounted tickets. For those who can't swing the $85 or more, we ask you to simply write us a quick e-mail with a price point you can afford via our discounted tickets contact box and we'll send you a special code to get you hooked up! This is how we keep it so we can continue this event, pay our staff well and never have to turn anyone away because of their current financial status.
Q: Why do you use compostable plate-ware instead of fine dining plate-ware for your public events?
a. In order to keep the costs of our event down ( i.e. offer discounted tickets to anyone who requests ) and to do our best to go green with our events, we use compostable plate-ware. For corporate, college and private events, the catering is hired out and the client can dine on whatever plate-ware they choose.
Q: How is The Blind Cafe different from a regular 'dinner in the dark'?
The Blind Cafe event you are about to sign up for is NOT a regular dinner in the dark! There are some restaurants in California and New York where it is solely about the food and you sit with the table mates you come with and it's like a regular restaurant but in the dark. The Blind Cafe Experience is social experience where you will literally break bread with other attendees at 6 - 8 person tables. In addition, there will be a group discussion between the audience ( you ) and our amazing warm heart felt legally Blind keynote speakers and a music listening live concert, performed with the intention of listening to music without your cell phones, visual conditioning and social etiquette!
Q: Will I experience what it's like to be a blind person?
a. No. We are not simulating what it is like to be blind! You will be in complete darkness for several hours and get an insight into blindness by hearing the stories of our awesome blind ambassadors, while participating in a discussion together but, you are NOT going to experience what it's like to actually be a blind person, that's just not possible to be in another persons shoes.
Q: Is The Blind Cafe a fundraiser?
a. The Blind Cafe is NOT a fundraising event. The Blind Cafe is a community awareness event, where we strive to provide you with a unique and inspiring way to relate with yourself and others through music, a social sensory tasting dinner and stimulating conversation. At our signature event, The Blind Cafe Experience, our main educational focus during the discussion part of the event is about blindness awareness, but we are not just a blind awareness organization. We are a darkness organization doing our best to create meaningful and impactful experiences helping people both sighted and blind feel more connected.
Q: Where do the donations go?
a. A Colorado-based organization, The Blind Cafe is a fiscally sponsored organization operating under the non-profit 501(c)3 of The Boulder County Arts Alliance. Since 2010, The Blind Cafe has been delivering unique and inspiring positive social change events nation wide, all held in complete darkness & facilitated by legally blind keynote speakers and facilitators. Donations and contributions raised from our events and fiscal sponsorship donations, support the continuation of the innovative and experimental social change programs The Blind Cafe brings to the world!
Q: Is the event in complete darkness or is their still some light?
a. All Blind Cafe events are held in complete 100% darkness. No Blindfolds!
Meet our Sponsors
A Colorado-based organization, The Blind Cafe is a fiscally sponsored organization operating under the non-profit 501(c)3 of The Boulder County Arts Alliance. Since 2010, The Blind Cafe has been delivering unique and inspiring positive social change events nation wide, all held in complete darkness & facilitated by legally blind keynote speakers and facilitators. Donations and contributions raised from our events and fiscal sponsorship donations, support the continuation of the innovative and experimental social change programs The Blind Cafe brings to the world!