I’m lucky and I know it.
I have to start there because I am fully aware that this particular night, in this particular city, draws a lot of ‘but how did you get invited?’ questions and comments. It seems part and parcel with the whole affair and trust me, I’d LOVE to bring everyone I know with me, but it just doesn’t work like that.
What am I referring to? Dîner en Blanc (White Dinner) in Paris.
I think it is important to tell my story on how I came to be invited to Dîner en Blanc in the first place.
Back in 2006, when I was still new to life in Paris, my new husband and I were out for an after dinner stroll through the streets of our arrondissement/neighbourhood. It was on this night that we stumbled across a large gathering of people dress immaculately, in all white, dining on prime rib, pastas, beautiful French confections, all the while sipping champagne from china flutes.
“What on earth was that?” I asked of my husband and he replied, “ah, that is the secret pop-up dinner called Dîner en Blanc. You have to be part of the who’s who of Paris to be invited.”
That crushed me. Couldn’t they just TELL I would bring the fun by merely inviting me? I spent the next few years in search of an invite or a connection to someone invited.
No. Such. Luck.
Fast forward to 2011, I had a client who was invited. I was excited for her but she flippantly said to me “I have to do this white thing tonight…how ghastly!” I wanted to scream I WILL GO IN YOUR PLACE but I held my cool. How was it she ended up being invited in her first year living in Paris when I had been trying for YEARS?!
So, I gave up. I really did. It wasn’t going to happen and I was just going to be jealous once a year of everyone having this magical night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It hurt to give up but I surrendered to acknowledging I wasn’t one of the ‘who’s who’ of Paris.
Then, almost as soon as I gave up, I received a random email from someone I had worked with as a marathon training coach. We had a long history of random encounters, from running Santa Claus races in costume together to laughing about mutual friends at a pub night for something entirely different, so random was not new to our relationship. He asked me in a very convoluted manner if I was “in or out” for something happening in June 2013.
Yes of course I was in (I always dive head first).
I asked what it was and he laughed, “I will explain later but you are on the list!”
OMG I’m on a LIST! I did not care what list it was, it was all so secretive and exciting! My husband was more practical asking “what if you signed up to run a marathon you don’t know about??” I wouldn’t listen to him (or pretended not to panic would be more accurate).
Then the invite came. We were cordially invited to Dîner en Blanc 2013 – location and time TBA.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Since that fateful email, we have attend 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and now 2017. The evening never disappoints, no matter how much work it is to bring your dinner, table and chairs with you through Paris.
I believe part of the magic is still in the details, or lack therefore of. People have all kinds questions about it and I refuse to answer many but I will tell you this:
- It is true that the date and location are kept COMPLETELY SECRET to diners. We find out the date a few weeks before and the location only once our designated team leaders have taken us there. We meet first at another location and come together at the last minute to set up, sit down and pop some champagne
- In regards to how we coordinate everything if it is all so secretive, we receive a list entailing the exact size and shape of chairs/tables and what is expected of us as diners
- We are in charge of our space: that means we must bring our own garbage bags and help clean up after. We leave the location as we found it.
- The date changes yearly
- The Paris event is ‘almost’ free of charge (change in your wallet could cover your fees) but I have heard that other cities charge quite a hefty fee (could just be rumours…)
- It is absolutely as much fun as it looks
- We do not automatically receive invite benefits to pass along to other friends, family members, etc (I’m sorry!!!)
So, with that in mind, I leave you with some photos from this year’s event. If you ever find yourself receiving a strange email asking “are you in or out”, I implore you to find your wild side and see what might entail.
For me, this is always a highlight event of the year and I will never take that for granted!
See you in 2018 (date and location to be determined, of course!)
Photo Credit: Jennifer Hart