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Dinner In The Dark? They Mean It, At The Blind Cafe

Courtesy of The Blind Cafe
Esha Mehta leads a group of diners into the Blind Cafe in Boulder, Colorado. The Cafe travels the country offering visitors a chance to experience dinner, music, and conversation in the complete darkness.

This story originally aired May 28, 2016.   

This week on Sound Effect our theme is “Out of the Darkness,” but KPLU’s Ed Ronco and Ariel Van Cleave found that going into the darkness can shed a lot of light on the world around you, and even your own personality.

The Blind Café is a pop-up event that travels the country, offering guests the chance to have dinner in the dark. Not candlelight. Not a dimly lit room. We’re talking total, 100 percent, pitch black.

The idea, organizers say, is to relinquish control of a key sense – sight. Diners listen to a short talk from someone who’s blind, and can ask any questions they’d like, all while carefully trying to eat and drink a full meal without the benefit of seeing it. (Soup is easy. Salad is hard, as it turns out.)

Organizers say the idea isn’t to let you know what it’s like to be blind; That experience is impossible to recreate for someone who has sight. But by giving up control over what you see, social barriers break down, and communication seems to increase among the people in the room.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.