You want to plan the perfect evening, and you decide dinner and a concert is just the ticket. You figure out what to wear, make preparations for a babysitter for the kids, and arrive at the venue. You are escorted into the venue... and the room is completely dark.
Was there a power outage? Is this a horror movie rather than a concert? No, it's neither of these. It's an experience you'll never forget, one that will open your heart and mind to other senses besides your eyes in a safe, fun and meaningful environment.
Welcome to the Blind Cafe, a blind awareness fundraising dinner and full concert held January 26, 27, and 28 at the Church of Christ, 1903 University Avenue in Austin. All of the waitstaff are sight-limited. The meal consists of delicious vegetarian dishes prepared by Austin chef Brian Henderson, along with a concert featuring musician Brian "Rosh" Rocheleau, founder of the Blind Cafe, and the band One Eye Glass Broken. Members of the audience can also take part in a Q&A discussion on issues related to blindness, all conducted in a completely darkened room.
Part of the proceeds from the three-day event will go toward the Bell Program, which helps young blind children learn valuable life skills. Richie Flores, head of the Bell Program and President of the Austin Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, will be the keynote speaker.
The Blind Cafe has had great success in several cities around the country besides Austin, including Boulder, Portland, and Cincinnati. It's a chance to make new friends, build community, advocate for the blind, and discover firsthand what it's like to live life without sight.
Austin resident Elizabeth Lehr, who attended a previous Blind Cafe event, was greatly affected by the experience. "My husband Aaron and I made a date night out of the Blind Cafe, and it actually made a pretty big impact on our marriage," she said. "I realized (again) how important it is to just enjoy the life I've been given, so since then, I've been cutting back on things that to me are superfluous, and focusing on what's really important."
Tickets for the Blind Cafe range from $45 to $95. If you'd like to volunteer, or find out more information, visit the event website at: