Wednesday, 31 October 2012
I was fortunate enough to experience the very first Diner en Blanc event in Sydney on the weekend, a Parisian ‘flash mob dining experience’ which has been going for 20+ years and is now enjoyed in cities all over the world. I braved tight white clothing, a scavenger hunt to collect every blanc de blanc item I needed, and…The Rules.
You gotta love the ballsiness of an organiser that threatens to ban you from all events globally if you dare not show up: "Those having transgressed the rules or desisted at the last moment, deterred by ominous clouds, will not be re-invited to the following editions. Their name and email will be put on a black list, prohibiting them from registering for future editions." ...Put the fear of God into guests like that and even Hurricane Sandy couldn’t have kept Dan & I away.
After I rejected a perfectly good white foldable table I had at the office because it measured 10cm short of the required dimensions, I knew this was an event made for my anally-retentive perfectionist side.
We were required to bring:
-1 x foldable square table measuring 70cm-90cm
-2 x white foldable chairs
-1 x white table cloth
-2 x white napkins (no paper allowed)
-1 x good picnic set (no disposable cutlery or crockery allowed)
-white candles & flowers for centrepieces
-fully white outfits (only beige & silver shoes were permitted)
One friend, after learning it was set to be a 14 degree eve, cheekily suggested a white snuggie. If the website says "originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste", unforts not. I opted for white jeans a la Liz Hurley, white singlet, white tux jacket and white faux fur - and promptly discovered that all white makes you feel fat, there's no two ways about it.
So 50 of us met our fearless group leader Pip Edwards in Bondi (thanks to all the equipment we looked like a sea of glamorous pack-horses) and ventured via Murrays coach to the secret location – the stunning harbour foreshore of the MCA. We quickly set our tableaux up, collected our goodies, and commenced imbibing along with the other 1,446 guests. Thankfully we had pre-ordered our wine (which you can’t BYO) and our amazing food hamper (which you can). Lord knows how 2 people could carry all of the above and food as well, respect to those that brought their own homemade fare. And kudos to Dan for knowing the location of a nearby, and really beautiful if that's possible, secret public toilet that only our group was privy to. Everyone else had to go to the ferry station...sozzy.
The sea of pure white at sunset with Dan Single spinning soft grooves was just so Frenchy, so chic. The poshest picnic you ever did see. And the most noticeable feature compared to other special events of this nature? NO sponsors, NO logos, NO MC, NO announcements. Everything just simply…happened. Including the traditional Diner en Blanc ‘moment’ of white napkin flying by the entire crowd. It was such a surreal, beautiful sight – only eclipsed by the end of dinner tradition: the same, but this time with sparklers waving in the night sky. Simply breathtaking. Once the dancing started a friend exclaimed that I was 'living on the edge' by dancing with a glass of red wine in hand. I kept dancing and am pleased to report the Liz Hurley pants arrived safely home and will dance once more.
The entire spectacle was heightened by the sheer fact that the guests did it all themselves, mostly. And that it looked like a huge white wedding where noone knew who the bride and groom were. It felt calm, grown up and very, very special. Well done to the organisers – who not only drew us all there despite the personal effort required of each and every person, but managed to arrange a completely still and dry Sydney Spring night. To Antoine and the global Diner en Blanc team, I take my hat off to you. And yes I promise it’s white.
Click here for a video from the Sydney event.