Inspiration: Le Dîner en Blanc à San Francisco

Inspiration: Le Dîner en Blanc à San Francisco

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Dana Velden
Sep 9, 2011

Dîner en Blanc is coming to San Francisco and although there are 2500 (yes, two thousand five hundred) seats available, it looks like I have lost the lottery to receive an invitation. Boo! (And it's on my birthday weekend, too. Double boo!) What is Dîner en Blanc (shown in Paris, above) and what might I do instead?

Dîner en Blanc's concept is part flash mob, part pop-up restaurant, part elegant picnic. It started in Paris in 1988 by a man named François Pasquier who arranged a reunion of 100 of his friends in the Bois de Boulogne. In order to find each other, everyone was instructed to wear white. The event was very popular and grew each year into the 10,000+ dinner it is today. Besides Paris, Dîner en Blanc is held in Montreal, Quebec, Hamburg, and this year in New York and San Francisco.

In San Francisco, the invitations are being offered by an email lottery and are still being rolled out. If you luck out and get invited, you can invite three other friends to share your table. The location will be kept secret until just a few hours before the event. So what happens if the stars aren't on your side and you don't receive an invitation?

It may not have the buzz of a large crowd, but you could do your own version of this event. Find a location outside, secure it with any permits required and invite your friends. A few suggestions are a park, rooftop, beach, hidden alleyway, a pier or dead end street. Indoor locations could be an old warehouse, someone's (clean and interesting) garage, an art studio, a community theatre.) Keeping the location secret until the last possible moment, just like the organizers of Dîner en Blanc do, adds a touch of mystery and adventure to the evening.

You can super organize the food and ask each friend to bring a course. Or you can stick with the idea that everyone bring their own elegant picnic. Keep it simple and provide the tables but ask everyone to bring chairs, a white tablecloth or sheet, and cutlery and utensils. No plastic, no disposables: this is a classy event. Provide lighting (candles would be nice) and music, and of course, insist that everyone wear white!

I love the short video from the Paris 2011 event, above, that shows people with sparklers and launching fire-lit lanterns -- the fire laws in Paris must not be as strict as the ones in the US! But this is a good inspiration for a small party where few sparklers would be a festive way to end the night.

Related: Entertaining Tip: Set the Scene with a Theme

(Image: Diner en Blanc)

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