I had not gone to a Diner En Blanc when I lived in New York City. Truthfully, I thought it sounded like too much work and a bit elitist, but I learned at the DEB Philadelphia last week and just how wrong I’d been. This night was magical and just good ole fun!
You and your dining partner (the reservations are for 2) sit with friends, if you’ve arranged that ahead on the application, but as your little table is joined with other tables which creates row upon row of long tables, you quickly make many new best friends, at least for the night. I loved everything about this party, and hope I get to go back next year.
Diner En Blanc started as an elegant picnic in Paris in the 80’s when Frenchman François Pasquier invited a group of friends to an outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne, asking them to dress in white so they could find each other. Today, Diner En Blanc is held in 70+ cities worldwide, always in public spaces. The location of the dinner is not disclosed until the very last minute, and when the guests are assembled at their meeting places. This is all organized by the table leaders. It is quite a feat of organization.
From the meeting place, busses, subways or walking may be involved, and this means lugging carts that hold camping tables, chairs, dinnerware (no paper or plastic!), the tablecloth, napkins, glassware, beverages, and dinner. I pushed mine about a mile and in heels! My friend Dynise Balcavage was smarter having worn flats and carrying her heels for later.
The Philadelphia Diner En Blanc is currently the largest in the U.S. This year I was among 5,300 others, all having fun in Franklin Square, toasting, eating, riding the carousel, and dancing. There was miniature golf, too, and even a marriage proposal.
Last night, the New York City DEB was held at Lincoln Center, which would have been a much shorter walk for me, had I not moved to Philadelphia! But if you’ve been following my posts, you know I have not only no regrets about the move, I am thrilled.
There are rules, as I found out this year when I got to go as the guest.
- It’s rain or shine. If you cancel, you don’t get another chance.
- Everyone must be dressed in all white, shoes and bags included!.
- Dinner plates must be white, and they can’t be paper or plastic.
- You must bring a folding table of a certain size and height (roll up camping table) and a white tablecloth, along with white folding chairs.
- For dinner, you can bring your own or order a meal from a caterer. We choose the catered vegan meal, and it was excellent.
- You exchange food and dates (temporarily) with those around you.
- Bring your own table decorations – ours were simple, but wow, did we see amazing crystal candelabras, flower arrangements and flowers.
Kudos and appreciation to Natyana Di Bona and her team for organizing the event. The biggest surprises of the evening were:
- Finding Chef Christina Martin in the crowd.
- Learning I could put the table together while wearing heels.
- Vegan macarons by the caterer, Feast Your Eyes Catering.