Over 27 years ago two effortlessly chic French men invited friends to a flash mob picnic at a surprise location in Paris. Diner en Blanc was born. This year, two effortlessly hopeless girls bought tickets to attend the international event here in Vancouver and barely, just barely, made it into the chic soiree.
Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for us but in staying true to our style as travellers, everything worked out in the end. The first hiccup came the day before the event when I found out that the payment for the tickets I had purchased never went through and that I didn’t actually, have tickets to the sold out event. The second came 3 hours before departure time when my friend went to pick up our Purolator ticket, for our very essential tables, to receive my JustFab online shoe order instead. An hour and a half before the event our tables showed up from some warehouse in Georgia and the UPS guy who delivered them received enthusiastic hugs. The third and final mini-crisis occurred at 4:34 when my date texted me to ask if he needed to wear shoes. To the fancy party. That started at five. At any point in time, we were pretty much hooped.
But we all made it to Diner en Blanc! My date dressed in pristine white converse straight from the store (thank you!) and our tables set up in pretty fine fashion. We hopped on the bus at Science World, drove blindly through the city until we arrived at Canada Place and after walking hundreds of meters carrying picnic baskets in high heels, sat down to one of the most stunning landscapes Vancouver has to offer.
Diner en Blanc was a lot of work but the pay off was spectacular. 4,500 beautifully dressed people covered Canada Place and the crystal clear blue day and panoramic mountain range gorgeously set the stage. The experience is one that I’ll never forget and the warm night transitioned into the cool evening with live music, great company and lots of good cheer.
There was something special about the global connection that Diner en Blanc brought to the table and it was a really invaluable opportunity to dine somewhere in the city where one could never normally. Diner en Blanc managed to show me yet another side of this city that I love so much and was a charming event that showcased Vancouver’s creativity, culture and class.
Here are a few helpful hints on how to survive your first Diner en Blanc:
the Way: getting tickets to #deb is probably the hardest part and this year’s party sold out in 11 minutes with 12,000 people left on the waiting list. The way it works is that you have to be invited by one of the table leaders and then once you’re invited you’re always invited back. There are three phases or rounds of invites and the third one is open to the waiting list. I got lucky this year (thanks r.f!) and scored a great table leader and group to be with. Our spot was right on the end of Canada place, away from the foot traffic and close to the stage. Tables are for two and you’re encouraged to bring someone whose strong enough to help you carry them. Or at least that’s my advice. : )
In order to keep the location a surprise, the next layer of getting to #deb is arriving at your pick up point at a certain time (5pm) to jump on the bus to the secret location. The experience can be stressful because (hiccup #4) cabs take twenty-five minutes to come during rush hour, but not knowing where you’re off to was a pretty refreshing concept.
the Weather: #deb takes place rain or shine and you won’t be invited back if you don’t show up at the last minute. Consider packing a poncho or an umbrella to keep yourself from accidentally entering a wet tshirt contest at the very classy affair.
the Dress Code: white is right at the diner en blanc, if you don’t wear white you won’t be allowed to ruin their vibe so be sure to find something white and wonderful to wear.
the Fine Print: There’s a long list of things required for #deb but if you buy them once the first time, you’re good to go for years. Here’s a list of all of the things that you’ll need to bring to the party:
– tangible confirmation of your reservation
– one folding square table between 24″ & 32” inches and two white folding chairs
white picnic basket containing:
– one white table cloth and two white napkins
– electric votive candles
– two sets of cutlery (not plastic)
– two glasses (not plastic)
– three course meal including first course, main course, cheese or dessert
– white table decor
– rubbish bag
To be honest, not everybody had everything on the list and we worried about things that didn’t matter in the end. Keep it classy, pack the essentials and get ready for a great time.
the Food: dinner was catered by Hawksworth this year but after seeing the lines to pick up the pre-ordered food and wine, I was happy that my group decided to cater our own with sushi. There was also an impressive assortment of meals that everyone brought – from happy meals to charcuterie boards to caviar, every type of dinner adorned the tables so don’t be shy about whatever you’re serving.
A big thanks to all of the people that made this happen. I wouldn’t have made it without you. x