The first Diner en Blanc occurred in 1988 when Francois Pasquier returned home to Paris after a few years abroad and decided to reconnect with some old friends. So many wanted to come that they decided to meet at a park called the Bois de Boulogne and wear white so they could all find each other. Pasquier continued the tradition in subsequent years and, with the help of his son, Aymeric, spread the event to cities like Montreal, Milan, Barcelona, New York and San Francisco. Unsanctioned Dinners in White have occurred in other cities, including Denver, Minneapolis, and Seattle.
What if you were sitting in a park, enjoying a beautiful day, when all the sudden you were surrounded by hundreds of people wearing white and toting tables, chairs and food for a spontaneous picnic? You'd probably be a little awestruck, which is exactly how those holding this Diner en Blanc, or "Dinner in White," want you to feel. It's essentially a flash mob picnic involving hundreds or even thousands of participants.
These gatherings, which can involve as many as 10,000 people, are typically announced through word-of-mouth or social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Once invited, attendees are told the time of the Diner en Blanc, but in order to maintain the element of spontaneity, they won't learn the location until one hour before the event is set to begin. Then, at the appointed time and place, droves of white-clad picnickers descend with tables, chairs, food, tablecloths, plates, napkins, candlesticks, flowers and any other fine dining accessories that they choose to bring along. The end of the impromptu dinner is often when the group lights sparklers, then a band or DJ is on hand to lead the dancing that typically concludes the magical night. Everyone is expected to help out with the cleanup so that not one scrap of food or trash is left when the group departs.