Several months ago I persuaded my good friend Caroline to register with me for an event I found out about on Twitter but neither of us knew anything about – Diner en Blanc.
Diner en Blanc is the most sophisticated flash mob picnic you could imagine. Participants gather together in a location that is kept secret until the very last minute. You sit at long rows of tables decked out in white linen, candles and flowers. You enjoy a sophisticated picnic with wine and the company of your fellow diners. At the end of the night you pack up, pick up and move out, leaving no trace that several thousand people had gathered to wine and dine together.
It’s called Diner en Blanc because Everything at the evening must be white – clothes, chairs, table decorations. Everything classic white and elegant.
This event has happened in countries all over the world – France, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, even Rwanda. Brisbane was the first city in Australia to host the event. I believe Sydney and Melbourne events will be hosted in the next few months. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, I suggest you jump at it.
Caroline and I gathered together with our fellow diners at New Farm Park – one of 5 or 6 meeting points around the city – at 6pm sharp. We had no idea where we were going and to be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it at all. I was relishing the suspense. Ideas bouncing around the bus included King George Square and UQ Main Court. However, the super-secret spot turned out to be the QPAC forecourt, the perfect, picturesque Brisbane location.
There are dozens of rules for participation in Diner en Blanc, from the size of table that is allowed, to the process of being invited, to what you can wear. The answer to the last one was ‘elegant white’. No colours allowed.
Us in our elegant whites.
We took up one whole side of the QPAC forecourt.
The Wheel of Brisbane and the ABC/QSO building behind us adding to the dramatic backdrop.
When I registered the two of us for Diner en Blanc, I ordered everything we could need for the night; table, chairs, hamper, wine. The food was delicious and the only problem with the wine was that I had foolishly thought one bottle would be enough for two. I will know better next year.
Looking rather happy and a little smug with the city lights behind me and my candle-lit dinner in front of me
Our neighbour’s Mumm and table decorations.
There were some fun little traditions to the night. Very French, if I may say so. To mark the start of dinner, everyone stood up and waved their napkins in the air. Then at 9pm, we all lit sparklers that had been handed out and the park lit up with glittery, fizzy light.
The opening salvo – the napkin wave!
Sparklers at 9pm.
It was a perfect night out. The setting was exquisite and photos – at least, my photos – don’t show just how beautiful it was, and how wonderful we all looked together. No one had come at this half-hearted. There were candles on every table, flowers and fairy lights; white hats, white gowns and white cravats.
The length of our table.
We made friends with the people surrounding us. The couple to one side were celebrating their 16thwedding anniversary that night. Another woman was telling us about her recent trip to Paris, a trip she’d been wanting to take for 30 years. We got to meet the caterer and compliment him on the deliciousness of the food. He told us that he had prepared 1,200 hampers for the night and there were 2,000 participants.
Hampers for the night, courtesy of Dalton’s Hospitality.
Unbeknownst to us, at 9pm a DJ started up and we hustled to the dance floor. I hadn’t had a good dance in years but everyone on this floor was just letting go! The perfect end to the night. Even if I did have a stitch from too much cheese.
Impressive moves on the dance floor.
It was a truly magical night out. There was that strange feeling of togetherness amongst us all. We were all there for this slightly bizarre event, priviledged to be there for the first occasion; in this strange sort of club. Like it was our secret night out, that no one else would understand. ‘You had to be there’.
To cut a long story short, it was one of best, most fun nights out in Brisbane I have ever enjoyed and I cannot wait for next year!