For the second year in a row, I was lucky enough to score a spot at the pop-up culinary phenomenon, which is quickly sweeping the world–Dîner en Blanc. This secret dinner party, made famous by thousands of party-goers dressed entirely in white, is now in 20 U.S. cities and 70 worldwide. In fact, our Bitches in Chicago and DC recently attended the local versions of the soiree as well.
The phenomenon started in Paris 27 years ago as an impromptu picnic. Diners were instructed to all wear white so they knew who was included in the gathering, with about 300 people attending the inaugural gathering. Over time, what we now know as Dîner en Blanc has continued to evolve and become more organized.
In New York, the event is quite exclusive, with a waitlist of over 40,000 for about 5,000 annual spots. Guests are instructed to rent all-white tables and chairs, and bring elaborate picnic spreads. About an hour before the party starts, the mystery location is revealed. Once we learned this year’s location, Robert Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City, it was hilarious to see the subway cars heading downtown fill with fellow party-goers in white.
The location was stunning. People set up shop in neat rows on rolling grass overlooking the Hudson with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty. At 7 p.m. sharp, everyone waved their white napkins overhead, signaling the start of this year’s fete.
I spoke with Linda Davis, co-host of the Dîner en Blanc New York, and learned more about this epic event series. While admiring the NYC skyline glimmering in the distance among the white-clad revelers, she elaborated more about the fast-growing global popularity of the party. She described how every city has its own spin on Dîner en Blanc, which shows in its guests and its topography.
Linda noted, “What’s wonderful about the New York version [of Dîner en Blanc] is the diversity of the city and how it comes together for a night of camaraderie. You may be sitting next to someone that you may never meet in your daily life. People share food, share stories. People come together for one night.”
And celebrate we did, as The City Who Never Sleeps only can. As the sun set, the dance floor was packed and the DJ tunes were bumping. It was quite the place to see and be seen, as Dîner en Blanc has become as much a fashion event as a culinary show. I witnessed some quirky and extravagant costumes, accessories, and wigs, which showed that people didn’t take themselves too seriously at the swanky soiree.
Photos courtesy of Eric Vitale Photography