I went to a restaurant in Berlin with some folk.
It is called Nocti Vagus. It is (apparently) Latin and means "dark wanderer".
It is the second most bizarre thing I've ever done, most of the things I do most people find bizarre, and the most bizarre thing is top secret.
It is dark. Not dark as in nighttime dark, not dark as in shut your eyes dark, not even dark as in Darth Vader's helmet after filling the coal bunker dark. It's dark. Dark as in there is absolutely no light at all. You have to go through a delighting chamber to get in so there is never any light. If you have a phone you have to turn it off, not just put it on silent. No lighters. No luminous watches.
It's dark. You don't get accustomed to the darkness, there isn't a chink of light. After not long you either panic and leave, or shut your eyes because they're totally redundant.
I chose the "surprise" menu. They don't tell you what it will be, nor do they tell you what you had afterwards.
So. You go into the delighting chamber. The door closes. The inner door opens and the waitress, Sylvia, says hello. You put your hand on her shoulder, everyone else puts their hands on yours, and so on, like a dark conga. And she "shows" you to your table.
She gets you as far as the chair and you're on your own. You fall over, drop most of the cutlery on the floor, and listen to the sound of glasses and bottles falling off the table onto the floor. Sylvia arrives with a basket of bread with a bowl of dip in it. You have to guess where she's put it. You pour wine by either putting your fingers inside the glass and waiting until they get wet, whilst listening to the other guests go "bollocks" as they tip it straight into their laps, or you do what I did and neck a load from the bottle before passing it on.
The food arrives. You poke it with a fork, then bring the empty fork to your mouth a few times before shoving your hand in it to try to feel what it is. Nobody can see you so you either grab a handful of it and nom it, or starve.
You chat. Mainly about it being dark. I asked Sylvia how she manages. She said she found it weird at first but got used to it after only a week or so.
Starter was probably sauerkraut with some gubbins. Main course, I call "Steak a la Main et les Doigts". Pudding had jelly in it, and sorbet, and ice cream, and that shirt is going straight in the bin.
When she offered coffee I chickened out and went back to the bar. You go into the delighting chamber, she closes the inner door, opens the outer one, and you are in dim light.
You then see Sylvia for the first time. "Hello, Sylvia!" I say. "Bugger me, you're blind!" You can tell blind people usually, their eyes are sort of not seeing, kind of thing.
Sylvia informs me that she isn't quite blind. She can see some shapes. And that's why she got used to it after a week. I never would. Some of the waiting staff are totally blind, some not quite. I was totally reliant on blind people for a couple of hours. And she was serving 31 other people in there as well, I found out later. Humbling.
Next time you see a blind person, spare a thought. Maybe offer to help them across the road? You've got a hell of an advantage.