Dark Dining | touching more than food
A couple of months ago, while organizing this year’s Sextival, I found myself searching online for sexy restaurants in Amsterdam. I meant our Sextival to start with a bang: I wanted something beautiful but not stiff; a trendy restaurant with good food and friendly people for a unique, out-of-the ordinary experience. Amsterdam certainly has a wide variety of venues to offer (there is even a place where the whole dining happens on beds!) and I was tempted by plenty of them. Somehow though, this time, we wanted a more intimate, more sensual, more tactile experience. Which is why we chose dark dining.
Now if this seems to you like an improbable choice for a sexy weekend, I challenge you to think again.
I’ve been wanting to try out a dark restaurant ever since Tim met Mary at Dans le Noir in About Time. There is something deeply sensual about being -briefly- deprived of eyesight and relying on touch to orientate yourself and function. Especially if you get to be touching your object of desire!
Apparently, 80% of brain stimuli are transmitted through the eyes. When applied to dining this means that you might not be able to identify everything -or at times anything- you put in your mouth. Often you end up eating with your hands, to make sure you find your mouth and not leave half your plate filled. Who cares? Nobody’s looking anyway!
You do lose a great deal of impressions when you are deprived of the visual dimension. No need for fancy plates, crystal glasses, careful table setting or seasonal decoration. At the same time, what you gain is even more. Could it be that the 20% of brain signals not passing through your eyes is closer to your gut feeling? After all, you want things to feel good, not only to look right.
When we arrived at Ctaste, we were greeted by the friendly host at the well-lit lounge with its couches. He went on to explain us the concept of the restaurant: our visually impaired waiter would introduce us to the pitch-dark room and seat us at our table. Should we need anything, we just had to call him by his name and he would promptly be there to help us. We wouldn’t get to know exactly what we had eaten until afterwards.
I have to admit I felt a twinge of panic walking in the dark hall holding Xander’s shoulder, who was in turn holding the waiter’s shoulder. I felt the heavy fabric of the entrance curtain on my face and I had a moment. Why hadn’t I thought of the possibility of being scared in the dark?
It took me a couple of minutes and a few deep breaths (and some focusing on Xander’s luminescent watch) to relax. What definitely helped me to loosen up was that, unlike in other restaurants, we were seated next to each other at the table. My love had probably understood the state I was in and took me softly in his arms. I felt his breath on my cheek while he was talking to me calmly about everything and nothing. No etiquette to adhere to here when it comes to the distance to keep from your lover while dining! I felt free to put my leg on his under the table and soon we were giggling together.
The whole evening passed in a conspiracy of whispers, chuckles and secret touches. We had fun trying to guess what we were eating and making absurd scenarios about what the other guests looked like. It was shocking to realize how helpless we were without our eyes, but also how quickly we got adjusted to the lack of light around us. I spent most of dinner time caressing Xander and staring dreamily in front of me in the dark. It was one of our most romantic evenings out.
It took us a couple of minutes to adjust to the world as we know it after dinner. The rain was pouring outside and we spent a good half hour chatting with the host about the background and history of Ctaste. We were intrigued to hear that they also provide champagne, wine, beer and chocolate tastings under the guidance of a blind expert -imagine a tasting in the dark!
Ctaste might have been pitch dark but our experience there was a truly colourful one. And I can tell you, it set the stage for one sexy weekend!