Popular this past year in New York City and several European cities as a new form of urban mating, the Dinner in the Dark concept was recently adopted by a Cincinnati social networking organization, Do You Flirt.com. Vince Broerman, Do You Flirt's president, is bringing Dinner in the Dark to Cincinnati to "create a relaxed environment where like-minded people can connect and explore their interests without fear of judgment." At the Dinner in the Dark (DID) I attended at Bella, while connection was evident, exploration was, well ... rampant.
The evening began innocuously enough with a mostly single group of 24 men and women gathering in Bella's upstairs bar for a drink. It was clear we were using this well-lit opportunity to check each other out. Twenty-, thirty- and fortysomethings, ethnically diverse, well-dressed or casual -- we were all anticipating the allure of what lay ahead.
Would it be a Bacchanalian love feast where we were free to eat food with our hands, get naked and make out? Well, that's what I was anticipating.
Answer? Yes. Sort of. Definitely.
We were led into the darkened dining room one by one on the arm of a server wearing night vision goggles (seriously dark!) and seated randomly at tables for six (split equally between genders) with a wine glass, napkin and silverware in front of us (which I discovered by feeling around). I sat between two men; across the table, two women happily sandwiched a man named Tom.
Once everyone was seated in the velvet-curtained room, guests lost their inhibitions rather quickly -- some immediately. At times, DID resembled a high-school cafeteria during a power blackout with adolescent cheering and squeals.
For the guy on my left, dinner in the dark meant shedding a layer of clothing with each of the four courses. He ate dessert in his pants and made me feel his pecs. I wonder how he would have handled a five-course dinner.
On my right was Pietro, an Italian pilot. It would have been enough that an Italian man was seated practically in my lap in a dark room, but -- pinch me -- he spoke five languages fluently, was handsome (yep, one of the ones I was previously checking out), educated and adored his mother. God must be a woman, because Pietro lived up to the Italian male fantasy, deciding that the dessert of chocolate mousse cake would taste so much better if enjoyed from each other's fingers. Slooowly. While whispering in Italian. Sigh.
I highly recommend you try this: Dining in absolute darkness enhances all manner of sensual pleasure, even without a Pietro. A heightened awareness of touch, taste, smell and sound is the seasoning; intimacy is the sustenance.
The next Dinner in the Dark is Thursday. To register, log on to www.doyouflirt.com