Imagine 1,000 guests dressed head-to-toe in white, picnicing on white tables, waving white napkins in the air for a photo op. That’s Dîner en Blanc, a worldwide pop-up experience founded in Paris 25 years ago. It’s magical.
I first heard about DeB when I was in Munich. A friend pointed out the Munich Opera House and gushed about how he’d gone to a dinner in its courtyard with everyone dressed in white. So when I heard that DeB was finally making its way to Melbourne… Well, let’s just say I reached out to the DeB team back in December. And the event didn’t happen till 7 March. I’m so glad I got to be one of the lucky 1,000 attendees!
The concept may sound a bit difficult: everyone has to dress in white (okay, pretty easy). But they also have to bring white tables and chairs AND a white tablecloth. And picnic baskets if they’re so inclined. And white flowers if they really want to go all out. Plus transport it all to a secret location only revealed on the day. Too complicated? It seems not, since the aforementioned 1,000 guests all happily brought their white belongings along. Hat tip to the DeB team for setting everything up: there were four buses throughout the city to transport attendees, and once everyone arrived it was a seamless process to check in and set up. Ruki and I were lucky to be in the media area, so no chair wrangling for us — just endless amounts of Pommery Champagne, Fiji Water, and canapés, and tables already set up.
Where was the secret Dîner en Blanc location? Right along the banks of the Yarra, in the grassy area in front of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. The modern building was the perfect foil to the all-white picnicers. And man, did everyone crank up the fashion. Ruki and I raided our closets (and, in his case, an op shop) for the perfect white ensembles, but we were outclassed by the gorgeous dresses and dapper suits. Half the fun of going was walking around checking out what people are wearing.
And straight men: This is the perfect date idea if you want to impress. It’s so perfect that there was even a proposal! When the gent dropped to one knee in front of the media wall, there was a stampede of photographers. I’m not ashamed to say I was one of ’em. When’s the last time YOU’VE seen a proposal happen in front of 1,000 people dressed in white? (Ruki took the opportunity to grab us another few glasses of Pommery — good man.)
So was it worth the $75 admission, even with having to bring your own table and chairs? Abso-frickin-lutely. This is an experience to die for. Each of the 1,000 people looked stunning on their own, but together it was elevated into a ‘pinch me am I dreaming’ sort of evening. The banks of the Yarra was the perfect setting as the light faded into night. There were sparklers, people. Sparklers! The best part was when the DJ turned his music up. Spontaneous all-white dance party alert!
To find out when Dîner en Blanc will be happening next, catch up with them on the official website or their Facebook page. And remember: it’s the perfect excuse to buy that white outfit you’ve been eyeing.