The whole concept of Dining in the Dark is one that has always quite fascinated me, perhaps fueled by all the fancy dates I’ve watched in movies over the years. Popularized by the Dans le Noir chain of restaurants, when I heard that this concept was coming to Nairobi, I just knew that I had to give it a go! Armed with an adventurous streak, irrational fear of darkness and just plain love for food, I arrived at The Tribe Hotel for the dress rehearsal of Gizani on the evening of 15th May both curious and somewhat terrified.
Present was Fabrice Roszczka, a dining in the dark expert responsible for the training and implementation of various Dans le Noir restaurants and concepts in majority of cities around the world. He put us into groups depending on the tables we were going to be seated at and with everyone placing their left hand on the shoulder of the person in front, we shuffled into the pitch black room guided by the visually impaired staff who would be our aides for the evening.
“Ignatius!” “Evans!” “Sam!” “Saaam!” soon rent the air. You see, these were some of our waiters and I guess I was initially not the only one terrified of boogey men possibly lurking about in the dark waiting for a chance to pounce. It’s surprising how calming a hand on the shoulder by one of the waiters when they finally made it to your table could be.
Then came the fun part…the food!
I gave up trying to use cutlery, as you probably will when you try this for the first time. Mashed truffle tastes so weird in the dark, I must add. It’s also insane how, without your sight to distract from the experience, the taste and smell of everything on your plate is just so much more amplified. I made a few friends in the dark and we had some deliciously intelligent conversations, and it was so much fun getting to see what they looked like once we stepped back into the light! As a treat to all who were present to try the Gizani experience for the first time, our waiters treated us to a lovely rendition of African songs like Malaika and others ladden with intonations that reminded me of Lion King’s soundtrack. No one could see me and so I joined in, flapping my arms about wildly like a church choir master. I’m sure others did too. It was beautiful!
Afterwards, I had a lovely chat with Gizani’s founder, Abdul Kamara, who has actually been visually impaired since 2008. He explained that Gizani was seeking to introduce a positive and dynamic notion of blindness that could lead to inclusion and empowerment and thus make a real contribution in the growing cosmopolitan city of Nairobi. We discussed how the experience could somewhat change your perception of dining and I must say, even as I glanced down at my shirt and noticed the spilled soup, I couldn’t care less because I just felt liberated.
With tickets going for only Ksh 6,000, you can give Dining in the Dark a try, and I promise it will be an experience like none other. Be sure to get your ticket here.
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