A Blind Experience: The Blind Cafe in San Francisco

What would you do if you were to go blind today? If you lost all sense of sight and were pitched into darkness?

Saturday night, I experienced a tiny sliver of the experience that blind people have each day at the Blind Cafe in San Francisco. Previously mentioned in this blog post, the Blind Cafe is also called a pop-up restaurant. It’s a 3 day event: 3 night of dinners with a concert included.

The Blind Cafe - a community event.

The Blind Cafe, a community event where people connect, learn and grow in the dark.

The venue was the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, a local community center. The main multipurpose room was transformed into the dark room, and this is where the blind experience began.

Pulling back the curtain, a guide escorted me through the maze created to maintain the total darkness within the large room which served as the dining hall and concert venue. I hadn’t thought that the cup of red wine I was holding could easily be a hazard in a room of “temporarily blind” individuals.

As my guide pulled me through the room, he whispered to me, “stand here.” I clung to his arm as I tried to get my bearings in the completely dark room.

Without my eyes, I wish I could have walked around the room, touching everything, running my hands along to feel the rough, splintery wood walls, or the protruding upraised stage, and feel the placement of the plastic tables and folding chairs around the room. I couldn’t, though, as Rosh, the performer, sang on stage. It likely would have meant a collision with another individual would have spilled red wine on my white button-up shirt…

Conversation and laughter bubbled up from around me, sporadically, but I couldn’t tell from where. After while of struggling, trying to pinpoint and analyze the layout of the room, and the people, and the decor, I let it go. For a night, I could give up my reliance on my sight and experience some of what a blind person might experience.

I remained where I was, relaxing as the concert went on, hearing more clearly than before as Rosh sang along with his acoustic guitar on stage. I saw this as a chance to listen a little closerwithout the distraction of my eyes and sight – to take comfort in the cloak of darkness and relishing the fact that I could focus on one less sense, at least for a night.

One Eye Glass Broken website.

One Eye Glass Broken performed at the San Francisco Blind Cafe.

Events by Collette organized the event, Rosh & One Eye Glass Broken came to play, blind guests of honor represented and spoke, blind waitstaff were involved, individuals such as Chef Kaz from Breakthrough Sushi donated their services to the delicious vegan menu and many other volunteers staffed the event. An incredible effort of many – awesome job to everyone who was involved, attended and supported the event!


Jen Burstedt

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