I have to admit: I am hooked on unique events that bring people together with the aim of connecting and having a great time. That is part of what attracted me to my current job and what also drew me to participate in Diner en Blanc NYC for the first time 3 years ago.
To find the origins of this wonderful event, we have to go back nearly 30 years ago, to Paris. Francois Pasquier had spent a few years abroad and wanted to connect with old friends when he came back. He organized a picnic with following concepts: “Bring a meal, bring a new friend, and dress in white”, the last detail was important so that they could find each other easily in Bois the Boulogne. Diner en Blanc was born.
Fast forward to 2016: the event is now organized on six continents, in 25 countries, 70 cities, and has 125,000 participants globally. The New York city location hosted 5,000 people this year, with another 45,000 on the waiting list. From a strict word-of-mouth event, the organization has now gone online, but the main idea has stayed the same: guests gather at a secret location for an elegant picnic in white with good friends at a magical location in their city.
And magical it was: after a short subway ride (table and chairs packed) from our gathering point, we arrived at Wagner Park waterfront in Battery Park City. The location is best known for its ferry departures to the Statue of Liberty. From there, we had a magnificent view of Ellis Island, Lady Liberty and the wonderfully illuminated historic train terminal in Liberty State Park (can’t wait to organize our Hercules Trophy event there next year!).
Once we set up the tables, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset, which gave all the white a golden undertone. Many people dressed up especially for the occasion including dresses adorned with wires, fancy feathered headpieces, enormous powdered wigs, sci-fi hats etc… A FDNY harbor unit ship sailed by spouting water to add to the festivities. A live jazz band and the cool evening breeze were a perfect accompaniment to the friendly and light atmosphere. Time stood still for a while, there were just friends – old and new and everybody connected and shared a common vibration of joy and happiness.
After dinner, a DJ brought everyone to their feet to the rhythms of my favorite Belgian musician, Stromae. “Alors on danse…”. People danced the evening away until the music stopped at 10 pm and we all felt like Cinderella – breaking up our tables and hurrying to grab a cab before the line grew to long or climbing back into the subway, because after all, today was a workday and the magic was gone, as was the sea of white. The pictures showing up all over the internet captured the magic beautifully though and people’s reactions were clear: we will be back next year!