This article by Johan du Preez appeared in the Eikestadnuus newspaper.

We’re enjoying a sit-down dinner at Spier wine farm in the Cape Winelands with a group of 100 people. The three-course meal is outstanding. The MC delightful. The entertainment superb. We’re having a ball… in total darkness.

Dinner in the Dark, presented and hosted by blind motivational speaker, corporate entertainer and global adventurer Hein Wagner, offers an opportunity to change those often stale corporate events such as year-end functions and team building to something extraordinary to be remembered for long afterwards. It takes place in complete darkness. With one organ of sense – eyesight – temporarily removed, guests have to rely on their other four senses and on those around them to be able to function. Under these circumstances and outside of the comfort zone of those with normal vision, concepts such as initiative, trust, communication, leadership and interaction with others become increasingly important to be able to succeed.

Guests do not see the venue prior to the event and are normally unaware of the fact that they will be served dinner in darkness. They meet their skilled blind waiters who assist them to their tables, in the dark and are not aware that they are blind. This is only revealed once the lights are switched on at the end of the event. Hein facilitates the event which is suitable for 20 – 130 guests in an entertaining manner and guides the guests through their experience in the dark.

As there are a number of technical requirements to hosting Dinner in the Dark, Hein prefers to use preselected venues for this event. The conference venue at Spier wine farm is ideally suited for this. Specifying Spier wine farm as your venue of choice when booking for Dinner in the Dark has an added bonus as the farm offers superb hotel accommodation and other activities that can also be enjoyed.

“The benefit of being blind is that one can imagine anything the way you want it to look,” quips Hein. Although made in jest, this comment became overwhelmingly real when I entered the totally dark venue and sat down at a table without knowing what’s on it, what’s close to it and how I would progress through the evening without the benefit of sight. As I started to settle down in this unchartered territory, I became acutely aware of the challenges that the visually impaired have to deal with even during a simple event such as dinner. And as I became more courageous to do what I was supposed to do, I also realised how the rest of my senses became alert and assisted to help me cope with what I was dealing with.

The fact that this was a 5-star event with no obligatory and fancy décor required, reminded met that there are more important things in life than the trimmings and facades that we often stage just to look good in the eyes of others. Moulding our lives in comfort zones around what we think others expect of us, can more so cause us to miss those challenges that bring new life experiences worth more than public opinion.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” someone once said. “And when having to face challenges and the prospect of new life at times in darkness, the décor anyhow doesn’t matter,” I said to myself.

Visit www.heinwagner.co.za or contact Hein on 082 879 6008 for more information on Dinners in the Dark. To enquire about Dinner in the Dark at Spier, please contact their conference coordinators at conference@spier.co.za.