Picture it: August 22, approximately 2,500 people from all corners of Philadelphia will descend upon a secret location in Center City. Dressed in all-white from tip to toe, the guests will set up tables, chairs, table settings and dinner for an elegant pop-up picnic. Then, four hours later, the gathering will depart and it will be as if nothing ever happened.
Of course, I’m talking about the Dîner en Blanc (DEB). Like most fashionable things, DEB began in Paris. François Pasquier invited several of his closest friends to a picnic in the City of Lights and the guests were instructed to wear white so they could easily find each other. The gathering obviously caused quite a scene, and 25 years later, DEB is still going strong. Under the direction of Pasquier’s son Aymeric, DEB has flourished and the storied event has spread like wildfire to cities around the globe such as Montreal, Singapore, Kigali, New York and recently Haiti.
In 2012, the inaugural DEB came to Philadelphia hosted by Natanya Dibona and Kayli Moran. The event was fittingly held at Logan Circle (modeled after the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris). Although most Philadelphians had never heard of the event, 1,400 guests attended DEB—many out of sheer curiosity and others because they simply liked the concept. This year, thousands crashed the international DEB server (twice!) trying to get a coveted ticket to the event. What a difference a year makes.
This year, guests will again have the option of bringing their own dinner or purchasing the delectable standard and premium meals from Garces Catering and cheese plates from DiBruno Brothers. Guests will be corralled by DEB table leaders and hosts from various locales around the city and will not learn of the actual location until 30 minutes before the event. Several events leading up to the main event have already taken place including a pop-up night of shopping at Williams-Sonoma at The Bellevue, it was the perfect opportunity for guests to get those last minute necessities for DEB.
There’s a lot of buzz around the event and many people want to know: what kind of people would go through all this trouble to attend DEB? What’s the point? The point is, well, there is no point. This isn’t a charitable event and the cost to participate in DEB pays for the city permits and such that allow the event to take place. I’m reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette where the Dauphine and her courtiers pranced around the gardens of Versailles and the Petit Trianon. That scene expresses the true purpose of DEB: t0 bring 2,500 strangers and friends together for a night of whimsy and magic, while discovering (or re-discovering) our charming city.
WHEN: Thursday, August 22, 2013
REGISTRATION: Registration is closed, but non-members can still join the waiting list.