Last month I attended a secret event called Dîner En Blanc. It’s an event not many people know about or have even heard of until you know someone who’s been to it or you’ve seen tons of people dressed in white meeting in the same location. Certainly commuters near the Flatiron district were curious as to why tons of adults were meeting in the park dressed from head to toe in white (men and women) with what seems to be luggage all around us. This is what commuters saw when they walked by Madison Square Park (one of the many meeting spots around New York City) on a Thursday at 5:30pm:
I think the mystery of it all is what keeps the event going. Even though I can enjoy a bit of mystery in my life, I have a bit of a type A personality and I like to be prepared for things in advance. Not having full details on what to expect I spent days before the event studying lot’s of blogs and subscribing to multiple white party themed Pinterest boards to get tips on what to bring, what to wear, and how to set up my table.
After the event I realized there are tons of people like me out there and tons of people who need a lil less mystery in their lives when it comes to one of the most exclusive parties in New York City so I created this post for people like me.
I’ve broken down the basics of Dîner En Blanc by using a familiar set of “Who” “What” “When” “Where” “Why” and “How”.
Who? — Who Started Dîner En Blanc?
Dîner En Blanc was founded in 1988 by a man named François Pasquier. François lived in Paris. One evening he casually invited a handful of friends to have an elegant outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne (a park in Paris) and simply asked them to wear white so they would be able to find each other. This basic concept grabbed attention of many and is now an worldwide event that has spread across six continents. That’s pretty spectacular to think an outing with friends can turn into such a secret phenomenon.
What? — What Is Dîner En Blanc?
Dîner en Blanc is an annual all white exclusive dinner party held in a secret location in select cities worldwide. Participants are not given any location information before the date and start time of the event. This is done to avoid non-participants and party crashers from taking over and ruining the exclusivity of the night. In order to attend Dîner En Blanc you will need to register online or be apart of the Hosts or Leaders’ personal network and get invited by them during Phase 1 or by knowing someone who registers during Phase 1 and asking them to sponsor you for Phase 2 or, by signing up to the waiting list and registering during Phase 3.
I will warn you if you plan on going next year and are on the waitlist, mark your calendar off when tickets go on sale and be sure to get your tickets at the allotted time i.e. My last name starts with a “B” so everyone’s last name that starts with that letter can purchase tickets at 2pm you should be on the website minutes before so you are in a virtual line and ready to get your tickets. The tickets are not free and in NYC this years admission for attending was $74.00USD per person (1 member + 1 guest). Once you are confirmed and you have the date of the event you will have either a week or 2 to start planning what you will wear, and gather the basics.
The dressed code is strict: ALL WHITE! Head to toe. I will suggest wearing white shoes but if you do not have white shoes which a lot of people do not have (especially New Yorkers) you can wear light colored shoes but use your most fashionable judgement. Do not wear anything black. Also, do not wear anything grey, silver, off-white, or beige. Go all out and wear white! I probably tried on 6 or 7 different dresses in search of the perfect one. The theme is elegant, please remember that. I did see 1 or 2 people with white shorts on but you could tell they did not feel as fabulous as the rest of us who took the dress code seriously. I suggest dressing as comfortable (but chic) as possible. I wore a pair of white flats but they were scrappy and went all the way up my leg. The number on my purse is the the section we will be seated. This number is given to you by your group leader which you will need to check in with when you arrive at the assigned meet up location.
I would also suggest adding as much originality as possible to what you are wearing. Add lights, birds, feathers, big hats, stones, anything creative to your outfit (and table) to stand out in the sea of white. I say this because you’ll make a lot of friends quickly. One of my friends whom I sat with said something very true about Dîner En Blanc: “this is like a prom for adults”. When I walked around everyone was dressed so elegantly, dancing, laughing, eating and having a ball. It really did remind me of a prom. And I loved every minute of it (once we all sat and got settled).
Speaking of getting settled, earlier I mentioned “gathering the basics”. Gathering the basics when it comes to Dîner En Blanc means you are given a list before hand of items you will need to bring with you to have dinner which are:
- A white table (foldable and portable)
- 2 white chairs (one for you and one for your guest)
- A white table cloth along with white plates, silverware and white napkins
- Flowers (the only pop of color)
- Candles or a Centerpiece
There is an option of purchasing food at the secret location or bringing your own. I would recommend bringing your own food especially if you have dietary restrictions or if you simply just want to eat cheese all night and drink champagne. If you do not feel like bringing your own food, you’ll need to sign up for this option before hand. You’ll receive several email about this and you’ll have enough time to decide on what type of dish you want for the evening. I suggest bringing foods that will not spoil fast and do not require much refrigeration. The day of the event, I purchased ready to eat shrimp, olives, cheese, cold cuts, bread, pâté, and sushi. All foods that need to stay on ice.
If you do bring food that needs to be on ice I suggest small lunch box type of items and ice packs. One big mistake I made as a first timer was bringing a full sized cooler filled with food and ice. At one point myself and my cooler almost tumbled down the subway stairs so I highly recommend purchasing a sturdy set of wheels for a very small cooler or obtain a backpack cooler. And, if you are in New York you will be going to the secret location via the subway so your “luggage” of tables and chairs may have to fit through the turnstile. Keep things compact.
When it comes to alcohol, New York City has pretty strict rules about drinking in parks so we were instructed not to bring alcoholic beverages but to purchase them at the approved vendor. This years main vendors were Moët and Apothic wines.
When? & Where? — When Is Dîner En Blanc?
This years Dîner En Blanc NYC took place on Thursday September 15th. This event does not take place on the same date every year. Though it’s all very secretive of when it will take place, I have noticed every year the event is held before the winter months so it is usually warm out. There are options to choose a meet up location and your team captain. This person will lead you to the secret location. You will need to carry your table, chairs and other items you decide to bring to the location. Once you are at your location and have been seated it’s time to set your table for dinner. This years location was at Wagner Park Waterfront located in Battery Park which overlooked the Statue of Liberty. It was simply an incredible location to be near. Have a look for yourself.
Why? — Why Attend Dîner En Blanc?
Why Not!?! Plus Foodies and those who like exclusive parties crave new experiences. I love the fact that I was able to attend this event and know that I was apart of something that made the newspapers. We made history. This year it’s been recorded over 5,000 people attended. That’s 5,000 New Yorkers coming together dressed in white to enjoy a night together with strangers.
How? — How Can You Attend Or Volunteer?
There are a number of volunteers on board making this event possible. If you want to volunteer here’s a link to the main site: http://newyork.dinerenblanc.info/faq
I would not change the experience I had but I do have a few tips and tricks for first timers.
TAMEEKA’S DîNER EN BLANC NYC TIPS & TRICKS
💡 Even though it’s off season for fashionably wearing white. Look for an all white outfit. Be creative. Access Etsy and Pinterest for ideas.
💡 Do not bring lots of food. Bring bread, cheese, meats, etc. Finger foods. Carry your food in one of these types of cooler back packs: BackPack
💡 Dress as fashionable but as comfortably as you can. You will be traveling with your table, chairs, food, and drinks throughout NYC to the secret location.
💡 Buy alcohol at the venue. This will save space and save weight in your luggage.
💡 Purchase a hand truck from HomeDepot: HandTruck
💡 Take photos of your food. I failed to do so so much and regret this!
💡 Use Pinterest as a resource. I came up some really good ideas on how to prepare our table.
💡 Use Marshall’s, TJMax, Amazon, and your local thrift stores to pick up table items.
💡 Eat. Dance. Eat Some More. And Dance Again.
💡 HAVE FUN! You are at Dîner En Blanc! One of the most exclusive parties ever!
Here are a few photos I took from that night.
This is an event I would suggest going to for the experience if you have the opportunity and means to attend. It’s a world wide event! Go to the main website for details and to see if Dîner En Blanc is held in your part of the world.