Diner en Blanc is a pop-up picnic, flash mob style where all guests have to wear white. In fact, everything is white – chairs, tables, table settings and accessories – and BYO. At the beginning of the evening, groups converge on meeting points throughout the city, then are whisked away by arranged transportation to a secret location unknown to all until the event begins. Diners set up in orderly rows, unpack picnic baskets of food, set up table arrangements and get ready for a night of napkin waving, sparklers, merriment and fun.
The first Diner en Blanc started in France and is now a yearly event in over 20 countries around the world. I’d first heard about Diner en Blanc while I was still living in New York. I loved the whole concept of it and resolved to attend the first white dinner I could. My chance came when I heard that Sydney was hosting its second Diner en Blanc last year, scheduled for a weekend when I would be in town – all the stars aligned for what was a unique event.
Diner en Blanc is an invitation only event. To get in, you have to either be a DeB member i.e. you attended an event in years past, be invited by a current DeB member, or go on the waiting list to register for the year. There are DeB chapters all around the world, with their own websites and waiting lists – if you want to go, either find someone you know is a member or register and wait for an invitation.
What to bring
There’ll be an approved list of things to bring – a table, white table cloth, pair of white chairs, and white table settings with real china, silverware and white cloth napkins. Flowers, candles and other table decorations are encouraged. The Sydney event gave us the option to buy a picnic hamper – from my experience though it’s far better to pack your own food. That way, you can choose what you eat, pack hot items (all of the items in our hamper were cold foods), and spend the evening socialising instead of waiting in line to collect your food and drink.
Tips and tricks
If you want to sit with friends, make sure you get into the same group so that the leaders can seat you together. Bring battery powered lights for the table – candles are very pretty but don’t hold up very well in windy locations. Bring enough that you’re prepared for everything – shawls for the ladies and a white coat for the gentlemen in case of cold, white or see through umbrellas in case of rain. For ease of transport, a trolley comes in handy for chairs and tables. A large picnic basket will easily hold your food, table cloth and table settings.