Saturday, October 17th, the organization known as The Blind Café, originating in Colorado, visited Seattle to share what it was like to live in a world of darkness for the evening.
As my classmates were getting ready for their homecoming dance, I was at Fremont’s Nalanda West Community Center to attend my first Blind Café dinner. Many of my classmates who asked me about my weekend plans for Homecoming were surprised I would pass up a high school dance for some dinner. I instead was more than happy to miss out on another awkward high school dance for such a unique experience.
I thought about whom else to share ‘a night in the dark with’ and then I remembered my good friend, Maeve Harris, who attends the University of Washington, who is always so gracious to join me in attending events in Seattle would be more than happy to catch up and get dinner together.
The night began in a small lobby, soon to be filled with 80 people; anxiously awaiting what was beyond the large white tarps that lead into the darkness. While the dinner hour approached, my friend and I chatted with one of the founding members of The Blind Café, Jim, who is blind. Jim talked about an epiphanous moment on a trip to Iceland, where he went to dinner in a restaurant he described as brick and mortar, where he sat down at a table with a man who he’d been corresponding with over the Internet; this was an unplanned meeting. This perfect working of fate shocked Jim and the man so much that it compelled Jim create an event that everyone could feel the same experience like his, an unexpected gathering of strangers who would become great friends by the end of the night. I could definitely felt that at the end of the night.
The curators of The Blind Café called our attention with a dinner gong. We were told to turn off our phones, visit the bathroom before entering and drink some water or wine to calm down. I’m not going to lie, as we approached the threshold, I got very nervous, being in complete darkness and unaware of your surrounding for two and a half hours, hit me. But I, along with the others at my table entered the room all guided by one of the volunteers in a train formation; the Blind Café volunteers should get a gold metal for The Best Communication Skills, I mean c’mon leading 80 people into a pitch black room without any accidents or freak-outs, that’s something to be applauded.
15 minutes in we had already begun eating after feeling around the place settings for a spoon. The vegetarian meal included a quinoa salad, with a stewed potato and carrot side and a large slice of tofu topped with a Verde sauce. While dinner was underway, Rosh (the executive director) and Jim started an open Q&A with the dinner guests. The questions were very introspective and thought provoking. Several of the questions asked caused Maeve and I to gasp in astonishment, because we never has thought about such curiosities, like, “How do blind people identify their money so they aren’t scammed when shopping or eating out?” Numerous of these thought provoking questions were stirred up and brought to a conclusion.
The dinner ended with music by Rosh. This was probably my favorite part of the night because by then I was completely relaxed.
To sum the night up, it was an experience that truly communicated to a person of sight what it is truly like to be blind and have to rely on your other senses, even if it’s just for an evening. I recommend this mind-altering event to everyone, only excluding young children who aren’t so brave when in the dark.
The Blind Café is constantly traveling; there is a good chance they could be in your neighborhood soon. They’re next dinners are set in Austin, Texas, November 3rd, 4th, and 5th. For more information on their dinners and mission visit their website: http://www.theblindcafe.com
Hello, I’m Emma Eekhoff. I’m a 17-year-old that would rather be networking for business than at a party with my high school friends. I’m not afraid to share my stance on something, whether it is an art form like music or recent events in the world. I’ve been writing in a journalist setting for only a few years, through my high school’s online newspaper, The Growl Online or for a music blog. I love to connect and network with new people in the worlds of business and music, travel to new places and eat new interesting foods.