Aside from pink, white takes the cake as my favorite color, and there’s not much I enjoy more than drinking champagne outdoors.
Thus, I was ecstatic when I received an invitation earlier this summer for Dîner en Blanc, a global phenomenon that involves thousands of people picnicking, formally, in major cities around the world.
The movement began, naturally, in Paris 25 years ago, when François Pasquier gathered a handful of friends for an outdoor dining experience. Over the years, the City of Lights has played host to dinner parties at the most stunning locations: the Pont des Arts, the Eiffel Tower site, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles, the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the Esplanade des Invalides, the periphery of the Place de l’Étoile, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde—and now brings together 15,000 people.
It has taken place in 50 cities around the world—including New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Montreal, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Sydney—and finally, this year, made its way to Washington.
There are very strict rules:
- You must dress formally, all in white. This was a struggle for our male counterparts, who don’t own white pants.
- You must bring your own table and chairs, of certain size specifications. This meant our men, and everyone elses, were schlepping furniture across town via metro. Far from glamorous.
- Men are encouraged to sit on one side of the table, with women on the other, for photo purposes.
- Your place setting must be all-white, with floral arrangements. We had ours waiting at home from Urban Stems.
- You must bring your own picnic food, and order your champagne in advance from the group. Naturally, we got our picnic baskets delivered—these Bitches are too busy (read: can’t) to cook.
- You must meet you pre-selected group at exactly 5:30 p.m. on the dot—no later—to be shepherded to the secret location. Naturally, this was a challenge for me.
More than 1,500 Washingtonians attended our inaugural Dîner en Blanc Washington on that Thursday evening, September 4. The secret location? Beautiful Yards Park in Capitol Riverfront in Washington, D.C. We dined overlooking the Potomac, under the stars.
A live band was strumming along as the thousands of guests poured into the park, setting up their tables and chairs in neat rows. When dinner was to start, we kicked things off by theatrically flailing our white napkins around and around in the air, as is the custom.
Our glorious picnics were from Ris. The West End chef has set up an outpost in Union Market where you can get high-end picnic goodies, stocks, soups, and more to go. Inside, she had wrapped up beautiful breaded chicken breast and clear containers of green beans, beet salad, potato salad, and even some macaroons and a raspberry crumble for dessert. It was perfection.
After an hour or two of dinner, with plenty of dancing, photographs, and meeting new tablemates around us, a flame was passed from sparkler to sparkler, and with the sun set, the entire park was lit up with the flaming revelry as the DJ blasted Ellie Goulding’s Lights. It was a beautiful sight and a beautiful night!