23 June 2015

Are you afraid of the dark?

I wasn’t going to tell anyone this. In fact I was very serious when I said, quite sternly to a certain Kiwi, "That never happened". But there are moments which are just too funny not to share. One such moment happened to me in the dark. Please wrench your minds out of the gutter. I said funny, not dirty. Ahem. Anyway, I was in the dark and I was having dinner. It was so pitch black that I could not see my hand in front of my face. I had to feel my way around my table, yup, there's the cutlery and…pat pat pat…yep there's the glass of water…mmmhmm, feels like a square plate…ok now the tricky part, fork in hand, lets find the food on the plate. A methodical light 'scraping' and…found something! Eureaka! Stab it! Quick! Before you lose where it is! Hahaha! *smug look* Yeah, no one can see that. Now to actually eat it. "Woohoo! I found my mouth!" Um, yeah, I actually said that last bit out loud. In a still relatively quiet restaurant. But I had to laugh, and the lovely Emma (the Kiwi in this story) had the generosity to laugh at with me too. Thankfully no one can see you go red in the dark.

Arriving at Dans Le Noir, the hostess sat us down and explained the process before asking us to choose which menu we preferred and taking our drinks order. The menus are generic (meat, seafood, veg, 'suprise me') and you can make dietary requests. Once that was sorted, we were asked to place all glowing/light generating/shiny objects, jackets, bags, scarfs and the kitchen sink into a locker before being taken to meet our blind waiter Darren. Introductions made, it was time to go in. Right hand on each others right shoulder, Darren led us beyond the heavy red velvet curtain and into the darkness. It wasn't a gradual loss of light, almost as soon as we'd stepped through, and the curtain had closed behind us, it was pitch black. I could not see a thing. I have to admit, I had a "Holy sh*t! What have I done?!" moment and maybe a bit of a "What excuse can I come up with to back out without looking like a coward" moment too. But it can be really surprising what you learn about yourself when you push through challenging moments. Have I said moment enough times yet? Moment, moment, moment.

Total trust and rationality got me to my seat. The feel of the chair and the table, oddly grounding. The voice of my fellow diner, reassuring. Especially when the both of us started giggling away at how surreal it all was. But it was fine, after the initial nerves died off, we both settled into the amusing challenge of eating in the dark. Darren was great and learning to eat without being able to see was surprisingly easy - sort of. There may have been the occasional use of fingers to find/eat/poke the food...what? Its not like anyone could see what you were doing!

What I learnt

  • How to pour a glass of water without spilling.
  • How much I rely on seeing someone speak to 'hear' them in a noisy room (and the restaurant did fill up and get quite noisy)
  • I do things subconsciously, like gesturing when I speak, even if no one can see me.
  • In a normal restaurant, I don’t think about or 'taste' what I'm eating. Its as though just knowing what I ordered, my brain supplies the flavour when it sees the food presented. Unless its an amazing restaurant where the flavours blow you away.
  • Seeing food is part of the pleasure in dining out for me.
  • Just how much I rely on my vision – to feel safe, to 'read' people, to get around and be independent.
  • Just how little I rely on my vision – my body knows how to do stuff without my having to really think about it; think muscle memory.
  • I will never stop seeking and trying such weird and wonderful experiences.

Tips to make it through the dark

  1. Keep your wits about you.
    • You need to trust that a) Your waiter knows his way around the room and will make sure you reach your table safely and b) You wont trip, this is a business who knows people cant see where they're going so they are not going to put anything in your way
  2. Don’t Panic
    • No one is going to jump out at you.
    • You aren’t going to be left on your own.
    • You can leave at any time.
    • You will get used to the darkness once your mind builds up a mental image.
  3. Feed your mind anything you can for a mental image
    • Use your sense of touch to 'see' your chair, table and items on the table.
    • Use your hearing to figure out where other people are, where they are and how far they are. This gives you a sense of space and your place within it.
    • Use your imagination. Its like daydreaming, you can 'see' things in your daydream and this is no different.
  4. Go with a friend
    • You can go alone, but having someone to share the weird experience with helps it feel real. And chatting to someone distracts you from your initial discomfort.

The food

To be honest, I wasn’t blown away. It was average. But that may have something to do with the fact that I couldn’t see it and didn’t know what any of it was. I'd love to do an experiment where I did the whole thing again knowing what I was eating to see if it affected the taste. My one criticism, which has nothing to do with not being able to see, is the temperature of the food, it was warm, not hot, and one dish was actually slightly cold. So, don’t go for the food, go for the experience ;)

Would you try eating in the dark?


  1. I really want to try this as the reviews are consistent - the food itself is nothing special but the experience sounds amazing!

    1. Definately go! Its an unforgettable experience. Emma and I spent almost 2 hours talking about it after we came out.

  2. Utterly fantastic retelling - what memories! It has to one of the craziest meals I had, and the pleasure of the company was all mine!

    1. Thanks Emma. It was that to say the least! Crazy, surreal and unforgettable. Was a pleasure going with you :)

  3. You are too cute Sam, I would have been exactly the same woohoo I found my mouth!
    It sounds like a truly unique dining experience
    Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

    1. Lol! Thanks Kelly, glad im not the only one.

  4. I almost went blindfold speeddating but was like how am I supposed to find my wine in the dark - no idea how I'd manage eating an actual meal in pitch darkness! Does sound interesting though x

    1. Blindfold speed dating!! As if it isnt scary enough? LOL! You've got courage girl!