“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.”
We were in a panic.
The event date came out two and a half weeks before the dinner. Our registration was a mere week before the dinner. And we got in. And promptly panicked.
Diner en Blanc, an annual tradition that started in Paris, is shrouded in mystery. Thousands gather for a giant pop-up picnic at a secret location not disclosed until you are on the bus to the event.
Needless to say, I was intrigued. And needless to say, we were strapped for time. We had to rent tables, find pullies (because the table and chairs were heavy), get our all-white outfits together, figure out accessories, and figure out the food. Not to mention the rest of life that continued occurring with no regard for our time crunch. My friend Tyra (yep, two Tyras) and I scrambled to get our lives together in time. And by the day of the event, we were both kind of over it. All of this trouble for a dinner… Was it really worth it? We figured no, but we would go along for the ride.
We were totally wrong.
It was thoroughly mesmerizing. Our expectations were far exceeded. By partway through the night we were already planning our attack for next year. Not to mention the night ended with a full-fledged dance party. But let me back up.
The Mystery Location
At the beginning of the night, you have no idea where you are going. There are several meet-up points throughout the city, where you board coach buses to be taken to a secret location. Because some on our bus wanted to be surprised, our leader didn’t disclose the location. So we spent the better portion of the hour-long bus ride (thanks LA traffic) guessing. LA’s location: Pershing Square.
I would have chosen a different downtown location, like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but as it turned out Pershing Square worked. The Square, under the skyscrapers and the night lights was magical. And the sea of white was amazing to see.
The Scene… And the Centerpieces
Thousands came out for the event and it was truly a sea of white. So the premise is communal style dining, with uniformly sized tables set them side-by-side to create rows of diners. But the tables aren’t provided. Guests have to lug their own tables, two white chairs, tablecloths, centerpieces, and food to the event. And manage to set all of that up in all white. But before that, you have to get it all loaded up in your pully/hamper/handtruck/cooler and get it on to the bus. It was madness. I can admit I threw up a few prayers that I wouldn’t be soiled before I even made it to dinner. My advice: Get an insulated picnic basket and a white clothes hamper on wheels (genius idea I wish I had thought of), a pully for your table and chairs, or a table in a bag.
But once the tables were set up, it was magical to see. Rows and rows of white. And the centerpieces were insane. From mini Eiffel Towers to flowers to goldfish to 4-foot-tall peacocks, people took their centerpieces seriously. In our attempt to just make it to the party, we didn’t even have a centerpiece. Again, we were just happy to get ourselves there. But we know for next time.
All white everything is what it’s supposed to be. White clothes, white shoes, with maybe a touch of silver for accessories. In true LA fashion, there was some definite extravagance. Like see-through, lace dresses. And headpieces. LA came dressed to impress.
My outfit consisted of white sandals (flats, because you must know thyself), white linen pants and a Moroccan-inspired sheer tunic-like shirt with silver accents. And to set it off, I adorned my twists with a white and silver crystal headpiece. (Get a similar look here.) The outfit was comfy and cool, given that it was 100 degrees earlier in the day. Even with a thin lining, the linen pants were very movable.
People also did it up big time with the food. Again, we were just happy to be there. We had some delicious salads, and my buddy Tyra put together a cheese and cracker plate with fresh fruit for our first course.
We were clearly the amateurs. These people take their Diner en Blanc seriously! Our new friends Debbie and Corey had a 5-course, homemade meal, complete with garnish and mugs with their names on it. Five courses! And to our other side was a chef who put together a cheese, and olive spread that would rival the finest Italian restaurants. Next year, we too shall have courses!
The Fun & Fellowship
Before we got to the bus pickup, we had NO IDEA it would be a dance party. Thousands of people vibing to Latin-inspired music and dance hits. And there was a live violinist playing an electric violin along with top hits. It was magical.
Everyone let loose. People took photos, including us, as we did a mini photo shoot. People sweat. It was unavoidable given the dancing and the heat that still loomed. We drank, we sang, we danced, and we were merry. And four hours later, we packed up and hopped the bus back to the depot. Some stayed on for the after party at a secret location nearby.
All in all, it was a magical, enchanting, and lively night. We had a blast. And we will be back next year… definitely more prepared. I highly recommend going if you have the chance. We met some awesome new people and are looking forward to next year already!
Heading to Le Diner en Blanc in Your City: How You Should Do It
- Buy a table in a bag: The hardest part of the event was the setup and take down of the table, along with loading and unloading it onto the bus. Some friends used the Tall Aluminum Table in a Bag because it rolled up and made for super easy transport. You can also purchase the chairs that Diner en Blanc recommended on Amazon. But if you do rent your table, get a pully/hand truck to secure it in place. And don’t forget to get extra bungee cords because the one that comes with the pully IS NOT ENOUGH.
- Get a white hamper to put your food, linens, centerpieces, whatever, in. This was a genius idea that we saw and we will be employing next year.
- Get a beautiful headpiece. Many women had head adornments of some sort to set off their outfits. It definitely made me feel more elegant.
- Wear comfy shoes. We got lucky and didn’t have to walk, but they stated that we may have to walk up to 15 minutes to the location. So even if you change, make sure to have some walking shoes that you can drag things in while making your way to the destination.
- The picnic basket doesn’t have to be white (at least in LA), but it’s a nice touch. Our basket was silver and was insulated for hot and cold food. And it had flatware, plates, and a corkscrew included. There is also a backpack version of my basket that was pretty cool and allowed you to free up your hands for other items. But you cannot bring the cups and napkins that are included in the kit, as plastic cups are prohibited.
- And finally… Check out my Amazon store, where you can get numerous items all in one place…and with Prime shipping! Click here!
Main photo and daytime crowd photo credits by Tyra Donatto
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