The very first diner en blanc took place in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne in the 1980s and has popped up in some of the most iconic locations around town since then, like the Champs Elysees, Notre Dame or the Place des Vosges to name a few. While I loved Washington’s first two diners en blanc, the sites (Navy Yard Park in 2014 and the Carnegie Library in 2015) had lacked a certain wow factor. This year, however, the organizers really delivered that only-in-DC magic as 3500 white-clad diners descended on Henry Bacon Park for an over the top, elegant pop-up picnic in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
Getting so many people, slugging their tables, chairs, decorations and for many food, to an undisclosed location and setting them up at the site is always an exercise in organized chaos, but it always all comes together beautifully in the end.
The diner has many detractors but, as I mentioned to the Washington Post for an article on the event, one of the reasons I keep getting involved in Diner en Blanc is the camaraderie and the creativity. For all the talk that it’s a pretentious, posh, exclusive event, with a restrictive dress code and many strict rules, it’s actually one of the most inclusive and diverse I’ve ever attended in the city. Whether you’re a chief of staff in a congressional office or an inter, a lobbyist or a student, a lawyer or a bartender, everyone is equal for one night. I’ve never heard anyone ask someone else the dreadful “oh, what do you do” question at Diner en Blanc. Instead it’s compliments on fun angel wings, a sparkly beard, original outfits or crafty centerpieces. Everyone is treated the same at Diner en Blanc: everyone has to drag their stuff across town, no one knows where they’re going to end up setting up and everyone is given the same
blank white canvass to work with. And they are free to get as creative as they want… well, as long as you keep it white 😉
Some of my friends express their creativity through their outfits, others go all out on their table scape. Check out this sail my friend Jade made! It was amazing!
Some get creative on the dance floor too ! I usually focus on my menu but this year decided to spend some time and energy on a homemade flower crown instead. And I had a pretty simple but stunning table design planned that involved massive white balloons (inspired by this pin) too but that was thwarted by the National Park Service rangers who apparently disapprove of balloons… womp womp. We still got a few good pictures with them though!
Again, it was a wonderful evening, spent laughing, eating, drinking champagne and dancing under the stars with old friends, and strangers alike, in one of those truly only-in-DC moments. I only wish it could have lasted longer…