You’re gonna be blogging about “Dîner en Blanc” right? Asked my fellow revellers. ‘Natch!’ said I between sipping bubbles, savouring our Hors d’oeuvres and quelling potential table envy. ‘Oh look! They’ve umbrellas dripping with fairy lights! How plump are those oysters? I want a pair of those fabulous wings! How sharp are those white Venetian masks? Row upon row of white swathed tables, their owners tweaking a flower here, rearranging candles there, trailing fairy lights, settling in. A white linen napkin wave signalling the evening’s commencement. My god that table has an entire Eiffel Tower! Mon dieu! Je’adore!
The scene, viewed from afar, is quite spectacular. White on white enhanced by lush spotlit greenery and a city skyline backdrop bathed in the glowing warmth of a setting sun softly shrouded by a misty sprinkle making for a slightly surreal air. This year the Botanic Gardens. Sparklers optional. Ok! ok! Enough of the waxing lyrical, let’s take a look at the practicalities of this gig.
Name into a Ballot, fingers crossed, yea, accepted! Pay membership fee, entry fee for self and partner, make sure buddies are doing same at the same time, must have gang on the right bus, in the right departure location with the right leader at the right time. To where exactly? Well that’s a surprise, discovered upon actual arrival on the eve. The logistics associated with simultaneously ferrying all 3,000 participants into a sizeable venue requiring a fleet of mega buses and a strategy that positively makes my brain bleed.
But wait! Supply own table and chairs – must be white. So too table cloths, napery, picnic basket, table decorations. (Umbrellas too for the gig takes place regardless of weather) Real linens, crockery, cutlery. Plastic and paper a no-no with just one exception – glassware. Wine preordered and collected at the event. Complete package can be hired. So too extravagant picnic baskets but hey! Where’s the fun in that when several pre DeB Champers fuelled luncheons to bespoke our menu, decor and attire will do it. Now speaking about that attire!
White! Formal attire. White. Blanc. Damn the French! Yes, white can strike fear in many a heart belonging to a voluptuous body. But fear not fellow squidgy bit worriers! Spanx to the rescue. I’m talking ‘suck it in garments’ and I’m pretty sure the company itself could be sponsoring this insistence on white apparel! Department stores anticipating a heavy run on squidge corralling garments in the weeks leading up to the gig. I grabbed mine, felt like a trussed Turkey on thanksgiving but just look at that form!
Now many have asked why one would bother going to all that trouble to attend a gig where you’re paying for the privilege of bringing your own everything?
Well it’s the sheer fun of the planning, the trauma of finding the perfect white outfit, the thrill of an unknown destination. Assembling a pop up party, sharing food and wine with loved ones and table neighbours, admiring everyone else’s own ingenuity, dancing on bare grass to a cruisy band ’till your feet blister. Then dismantling and disappearing back into suburbia leaving nought but a footprint and a fond memory.
It’s about being a member of a secret, coveted fine dining flash mob that meets just once a year. Originating in Paris, now held in over 70 cities across six continents, Brisbane the first to debut the gig in Australia, Canberra and Melbourne soon following suite. Hats off to the fabulous folk who make it happen: Diner en Blanc Brisbane
Now what a clever Parisian was François Pasquier huh? A man who, over 25 years ago, simply wanted an elegant and special night with old friends. With a garden too small to entertain at home he invited them to meet at a public place, wearing white so that they could readily find each other. Thus was born Dîner en Blanc; the anniversary of which recently attracted 15,000 guests to the event, held in its founding city.
Did you attend? Tell us about your favourite memories..