Heard about this. Unfortunately was too busy to deal with the drill. A couple of my staff who are foodies did. Sounds like it was a blast!
White people are crazy.
Let me rephrase: People who dress entirely in white—from head to toe—and schlep white tablecloths, white chairs, and white plates and napkins to the middle of a city to eat cold food with thousands of strangers, also dressed entirely in white, and who pay for this form of social masochism, are crazy.
I reached this conclusion weeks before I donned a pair of white linen drawstring pants, a white Guayabera shirt, and a pair of white espadrilles (which look good on no man) to join 2,000 strangers for Diner en Blanc, the foodie flash-mob franchise that rolled into Washington on Saturday night.
I was a guest, but my fellow diners (“dinerers”?) had paid upwards of $100 per couple to join this culinary club.
The Washington event sold out weeks earlier. Weeks!
The attendees were told to meet in groups at pre-assigned locations around the city.
Many of them had taken the Metro from the hinterlands of the D.C. suburbs. They flocked like little white lemmings, hiking their hemlines up from the dirty street corners, and waited patiently until 6 p.m.
Only then were they informed of the soirée’s secret locale, and they set out en masse.
I’d been tipped off to the venue early.
I stood outside the Carnegie Library in downtown Washington, just across from the city’s convention center, and watched streams of crisply dressed revelers, looking very hungry, hauling folded tables and chairs, linens, and baskets towards the library’s handsome lawn.
Some carried their gear in Rubbermaid bins strapped to luggage carts. Plenty towed roll-aboard suitcases filled with cutlery and cold salads. One woman pushed her supplies in a wheelchair.
Again, I reminded myself, people had paid for this privilege. Why? Washington is lousy with public parks and open green spaces. Did these revelers require instruction to enjoy themselves? When did they become allergic to spontaneity?
The city has been transformed over the past two decades into an urban consumer playground that can accommodate both the very wealthy who can afford to live there and the multitudes that come to shop, to eat, and—apparently, as “Diner” proved—to commune with total strangers.
The evening’s attendees had religiously adhered to the Diner en Blanc International-enforced dress code, helpfully emailed to patrons a few days prior. “Wear White. Please no ivory, cream, off white, a dress with a black belt, light khaki pants, or any other color.”
I realized my espadrilles were ecru and became anxious at the thought of a “Diner” enforcer confronting me with an ultimatum: Either the espadrilles went or I did. I wasn’t sure which outcome I’d prefer.
“Dress Elegantly or Very Elegantly,” the email said. Dangerous advice. More than a few women wore wedding dresses. Mens’ white jackets flirted with Zoot suitterritory. I did spot one man in a cream dinner jacket. I guessed he’d made it past the color guards.
“Very Elegant” also meant guests could wear a “mask, gloves, wig, or fascinator.”
For inspiration, guests were encouraged to consider Marie Antoinette, and to feel free to imitate her, provided that their wigs were “original” and of “high-quality” and, perhaps it went without saying, but it was said, “white.”
Washington is rather late to this white social craze. Diner en Blanc began nearly 30 years ago in Paris when, the story goes, a group of friends met up for a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne, a large public park on the western edge of Paris, and wore white so they could find each other.
I put aside for the moment why friends would fail to identify each other without dressing like Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island. Perhaps they weren’t very good friends.
In any event, the founders clearly tapped into some thwarted social longing.
Thousands of people had been waiting to join this white army. The concept became contagion, and ‘Diner’ has now spread to Paris, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Abidjan, Cape Town, Canberra, Auckland, Vilnius, Moscow, Shanghai, Singapore, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and now Washington. ...Read the rest here…