(Blind) Dining in the Dark
The Blind Cafe was started by Rosh (Brian Rocheleau), a Naropa graduate from Boulder, CO. His first blind dining experience was in Reykjavik, Iceland and since he did not know of anything similar in the U.S. he decided to get things started stateside. The Blind Cafe uses the concept of engaging people socially in 100% darkness, via the arts & entertainment, to create innovative and imaginative social impact (pop-up) experiences held entirely in the pitch dark, no blindfolds!
Eat in the Dark with Strangers at the Blind Cafe in Seattle
What if you couldn’t see what someone looked like when you met them? Couldn’t see if they were attractive or not, what color their skin was, how much they weighed, if they had a disability. That’s exactly what happens when you spend an evening at The Blind Cafe.
Music Up, Lights Down at the Blind Cafe
It's not every restaurant that requires patrons to work together and rely on waiters to get through a meal.
But at the Blind Cafe, in Austin, Texas, on a recent Saturday evening, patrons filed into a large room much like kindergartners would follow a teacher. Each patron put his or her right hand on the person in front, and the group filed into a pitch-black room behind a blind waiter.
Dining and dialogue in the dark at the Seattle Blind Cafe
“The purpose of the Blind Cafe is to use the darkness as a way to help facilitate a connection and community and develop more compassion and understanding,” said Executive Director and Founder Rosh Rocheleau.
The cafe was founded in 2010 and travels to different cities throughout the nation, popping up in Seattle two to three times a year.
Blind Café is revolutionizing how you experience dinner in Austin
The sun is setting as clusters of people start to congregate on the expansive lawn of the Charles Johnson house, a pre-Civil War mansion which now serves as an event space. Golden light filters through the live oak branches and the crowd comes together between the sweeping white columns of the front veranda. Tonight’s dinner will be different than most and requires directions.
Dining in the Dark at the Blind Cafe Popup
I’ve always been curious about dining in the complete darkness. What would it be like to not see anything? Would it invoke claustrophobia, be scary, liberating, unnerving, difficult? And the bigger question – would it give me a better appreciation for what it would feel like to be blind? We learned the answer to all of these questions at the Dining in the Dark popup event in Seattle, run by The Blind Cafe, a non-profit organization out of Boulder, Colorado.
BLIND CAFE: TEAM BUILDING IN THE DARK
Inspired by a musicians trip to Iceland, The Blind Cafe is a team building experience that will be unforgettable. Imagine you and your coworkers are walking down a hallway that gets darker and darker. You enter a room and it is complete darkness. You take baby steps towards what you assume is a table with chairs and sit down for a meal. It may sound a bit impossible at first but the experience is everyday life for those who are blind.
DINNER IN THE DARK: THE BLIND CAFE
What I found most interesting about the evening, is that their main goal is to provide a new kind of music-intake experience, not blindness awareness. In a separate interview, Rosh acknowledged that because there are multiple levels of blindness, it would not be appropriate to say that they were promoting “the blind experience.” However, due to the already established nature of the night, he quickly recognized that there was at least an opportunity to raise philanthropic awareness of blindness and to incorporate opportunities for those in the visually impaired community. Personally, the night served as a reminder that anyone, regardless of means and ability, can succeed.
Our guides were not defined by their disability but rather possessed an enviable passion for life. Rather than shrink away from the challenge or cower in fear, they chose to work on mastering adaptive technologies to compensate for their inability to see. Something that for the visually-abled is as simple as crossing a busy San Francisco street requires acute listening skills for queues on the direction of moving cars or the willingness to ask passing strangers for help from someone who is not visually impaired. We learned about the various technologies that are being created to assist with these everyday tasks– technologies that we at Verana are developing as we work on tools to be incorporated into future clinical trials.