A semi-secret, invite-only affair, with wait lists as long as 30,000 people in some cities, is coming to San Francisco. The annual Le Dîner en Blanc, French for “The Dinner in White,” is an alfresco pop-up dining experience orchestrated by grassroots organizers and held in a public location revealed only hours before the soirée. Like a legion of fairies, thousands of guests in sophisticated, all-white formal attire (a strictly enforced dress code), some with festive accessories such as masks and wigs, come together for an elegant extravaganza.
Now, 28 years since its spontaneous beginning with a handful of friends in Paris, Le Dîner en Blanc has spread across the globe with more than 10,000 members in over 60 cities, including Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town, Perth, London, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, New York, Seoul, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong. San Francisco may soon join the growing list.
The organization is calling for three San Franciscans to spearhead the first ever Dîner en Blanc in their city in 2016. The international office provides support and training at no cost to organizers worldwide so they may independently host the dinners. (More information on organizing here.)
At the heart of the events are two basic concepts: friends old and new, and good food. The goal is to create a unique experience for guests enjoying a gourmet picnic in good company in an unusual environment. Past venues in Paris include Versailles and the courtyard of the Louvre. Attendees bring their own food baskets, wine or champagne, tableware, and even their own tables, then take all belongings back with them, leaving the site as pristine as they found it. The difficulty of the whole experience is part of the allure. Rituals shared by the global Dîne en Blanc community, such as lighting sparklers together, inspires a sense of unity among the thousands of diners of diverse backgrounds. Performing artists and special surprises round out the evening for an ultra-chic picnic of a lifetime.