“A flash mob descended on Bryant Park in New York last week bringing New Yorkers-in-the-know with folding tables, chairs and baskets to a clandestine pop-up dinner party. It was New York’s third celebration of what is known as “Le Dîner en Blanc,” which beckons a white-clad crowd to come together at an undisclosed location through a Facebook and word-of-mouth campaign. Seattle, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Montreal are among the many cities joining the growing event, which originated in Paris 25 years ago. The New York night began at 6:30 pm. At 10:30pm sharp, there was not a trace to be found. Jusqu’à l’été prochain.” — Elena Alonso, NewsWhistle contributor
15 NewsWhistle’s Questions For Elena:
1. How do you get on the list for Le Dîner en Blanc?
EA: In order to participate, one must be invited by a participant from the previous year or get on the official website’s waiting list. I was confirmed by my friend, who attended last year’s event in NYC, and this year was also a table leader. Once I became a member, I was able to invite a guest (no solo tables as symmetry is golden!). The presence of each guest is mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as the event is held regardless of weather conditions. if not, consequence is you get dropped from next year’s list.
2. How much does it cost?
EA: Membership costs $10 and the actual event costs $25. You either bring your own food/drink or buy the catering option provided by Le Diner en Blanc at the site. Those prices are separate.
3. What time does it start? How long did it go?
EA: The event started at 6:30pm and ended at 10:30pm. As this year’s event was in Bryant Park, many picnickers were travelling through Times Square, so it wasn’t until 7pm that people waved their napkins high (signifying the start).
4. How many people were there?
EA: I don’t know. There were 4,000 registered to attend.
5. What was served?
EA: Nothing, you bring your own. Everyone must bring is a table (with white tablecloth), two (white) chairs, and a picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware. Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited. But there is the catering option for food and wine for those who didn’t want to schlepp their own.
6. What was the table setting like?
EA: All white table cloths, and white chairs, many tables had elaborate candelabras. I had a simple vase with white(!) flowers, others had table center pieces. Here are two of our group:
7. Who’s behind it?
EA: This is taken from their website: “Launched with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier over 25 years ago, Paris’ Dîner en Blanc now assembles nearly 15,000 people each year.” Now, Aymeric Pasquier – Executive Director Dîner en Blanc International Inc., one of the four sons of the founder, who lives in Montreal for the last ten years runs the international orgranization. Both father and son were there and gave closing remarks.
8. Is there a special chef?
EA: Their partners are “French Tuesdays” and “Bordeaux” and “Perrier”.
9. Where do they get their waiters? Their set-up staff?
EA: NONE! No waiters, no set-up staff, no clean up crew. The participants are the ones who bring everything and take away everything. There are probably volunteers who hand out the catered food/wine to those who ordered it though.
10. Is this for a special cause?
EA: NO- just for the pure fun of it!!!
11. Do guests need to bring anything?
12. What must guests bring?
- A table, two (white) chairs.
- A picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware.
- Wine or Champagne, if allowed. Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited.
- Participants must wear white and be dressed elegantly.
- Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.
13. Is there something different about this dinner (i.e. guests can only eat with their left hand, plasticware is used)?
EA: LOL! NO, but, what I can say (although have not attended any other Le Diner en Blanc0 is that as New Yorkers, the crowd was very democratic, all types, gay, straight, camp, costumes, ball gowns, you name it! Style basically!
Just want to emphasize – there is NO plastic allowed. All serving and dinner ware must be china, and real stuff! That’s why its so special. And the effort is completely worth it!
DJ and dancing at the end. Live opera and vocalists during dinner.
14. How was it? What was it like?
EA: Magical. Amazing. Energetic. You felt like you knew 4,000 new friends.
15. Any funny stories? Highlights?
EA: The fact that I got up the media cam because I was a NewsWhistle reporter! There is an after party which I couldn’t go to but next year will report.
Photos courtesy of Elena Alonso