As a born and bred Londoner, I love finding new places in my city to go out to on a weekend.
That’s why I am a Project Manager for an exciting project, Otra Vista, a silent disco night at an unusual yet well-known Farringdon restaurant/bar, ‘Dans Le Noir?’ and I believe it is a trendy venue with warm, welcoming surroundings.
There are two floors, each with a bar; the ground floor with a dance area and lockers (free of charge) to secure your bags and coats, so you don’t have to worry about holding your coat in your arms which can be annoying sometimes! There are plenty of comfortable chairs and sofas on the stylish second floor.
Staff are Deaf aware, the drink menus are in British Sign Language, and there are no thumping noises on the dance floor, just total silence.
It’s not just any dance floor – it’s a silent disco! Each dancer wears their own set of colourful headphones and boogies away listening to the DJ’s music. It’s open to deaf and hearing people until 1am on Friday nights.
The idea began with inspiration from ‘Dans Le Noir?’ in Barcelona in Spain at the beginning of the year, and has been quite a success.
‘Dans Le Noir?’ is already famous for its ‘dining in the dark’ experience but they wanted to push the boundaries a little – hence the addition of the Otra Vista (meaning ‘other perspective’) Club on Friday nights.
‘Dans Le Noir?’ wanted this opportunity to introduce sign language into the silent party, and felt they needed the support of a deaf organisation to help implement their vision. That’s where Action Deafness came in!
They have now stepped down from being involved in the project, but several months ago, they worked alongside the staff at ‘Dans Le Noir?’ supporting them to bring their new concept of the silent disco night to London.
Deaf Awareness trainer Mandy Crump came to the venue and had a full day with the staff providing a mixture of deaf awareness training and an introduction to basic British Sign Language. All the staff were enthralled by what they’d learnt, and are now very keen to continue to develop their new skills!
Action on Deafness staff member, Hanisha, was photographed and filmed demonstrating how to sign a variety of words and sentences, ranging from “Hello”, “What is your name?” and “Do you come here often?” to the signs for “Alcoholic cocktail”, “champagne”, and “Red wine”!
These signs can be seen on menus around the bar, and the video is shown repeatedly on Friday nights on a flat TV screen in the bar, so that all customers can learn the signs and try them out.
This helps give customers a kick start in communicating without using either sound or speech. Order a drink in silence?! Flirt with someone on the dance floor without speaking a word?! As you look around you can see this is an interesting and fun challenge for the hearing customers who are brand new to signing, and for those who already sign, well, I found it very refreshing!
For many customers, their first experience of sensory deprivation on a night out is in the famous restaurant, where you are taken to your table in complete darkness, led by guides and waiters who are blind.
After this intriguing dining in the dark experience, if they are lucky enough to have booked their dinner on a Friday night, they will find themselves walking out of the restaurant directly to the dimly lit dance floor, where the Otra Vista silent disco night will be just starting!
They are provided with headphones, enabling them to listen to live DJ providing fantastic music. Once the headphones are on, it’s time for their second sensory deprivation experience of the night!
The guests are encouraged to use basic signs to start chatting to someone, to order their drinks at the bar, and to generally communicate using sign language instead of speech.
The Otra Vista Social Club is £15 for entry which includes a free cocktail and the use of headphones for live DJ music. Tickets can be ordered from TIME OUT. We welcome and encourage BSL students of all levels to come and practice signing with our Deaf staff in a fun and friendly atmosphere. This is an opportunity not to be missed!
Deaf people will not need to buy tickets to enter because with no thumping, vibrating floor, the music is deemed unacessessible, which means a licensed bar and a free, friendly, accessible space until 1am on a Friday night!
We hope that hearing guests will leave the night each week with wider eyes, a sense of mixing with deaf people, the knowledge of some basic sign language, and maybe even feel inspired to go and join a BSL course. It should be a fantastic evening of integration, communication, and fun!
Our current team of Deaf staff includes myself as the Project Manager, and Seeta Manjeshwar as the Assistant Project Manager. Depending on the night’s success we are hoping to recruit more team members in the future.
The Otra Vista Social Club will now run every Friday night from 9:45pm ’til 1:00am.
It is free for Deaf people to come and do not need tickets.
Go to https://www.timeout.com/london/shop/experience-dans-le-soir-otra-vista-social-club-april-2016 for hearing people to buy discounted tickets and get a free cocktail.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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