Part pop-up dinner, part synchronized picnic, Paris’ Diner en Blanc is headed to West Palm Beach — and it’s a massive undertaking.
Dubbed “World’s Largest Dinner Party,” the famously secret dinner is happening Friday, Nov. 4 at an undisclosed West Palm venue.
Here are 9 things to know about the secret dinner that’s a cult favorite across the globe:
ONE: The location is a secret
The dinner location is not revealed until moments before the event starts. Guests are transported by charter or public shuttle to the event site. Each table has a leader who assigns seating arrangements.
TWO: You must wear white
Yes, even after Labor Day (not that Floridians should care about such things). This alfresco dinner is less about food than it is about aesthetic impact on a public space. As a Diner en Blanc guest, you are part of a grand, moving and breathing art installation, one where order and a sense of style and symmetry are important. A signature part of the choreography: Once all tables are set up and seats taken, guests swirl their crisp, white napkins in the air to signal the start of the meal.
THREE: Your table must wear white
You must bring a nice, white tablecloth to cover your table. The table itself does not have to be white, but it does have to be square, foldable and easy to carry, as you will be toting it across the public space to your designated spot. Tables must measure between 28-inch by 28-inch and 32-inch by 32-inch. Dining chairs must be white as well.
FOUR: Bring a well-stocked basket
For the table, the Diner en Blanc International website asks you to bring a picnic basket filled with “quality menu items and china dinner service” and “proper stemware and flatware.” Translation: no plastic or paper goods. (Food can be ordered from an official online shop before the event for delivery during the dinner.)
FIVE: Leave the booze at home
Wine is available for purchase from Diner en Blanc’s official online shop. You pick up the wine when you arrive at the secret location.
SIX: You must bring a date
Registration is taken for two people at a time. But as the Diner en Blanc site points out, your date can be a friend, a partner, a relative, a spouse, or “even a blind date.” The event seats men on one side of the table, facing the women, who are seated on the other side of the table. “Same-sex couples are not requested to follow this guideline,” says the website, which explains the gender lineup this way: “Le Diner en Blanc is a highly photogenic event. Color, style, but also the symmetry of men and women are important components of (the) aesthetics.”
SEVEN: Ladies get a better view
This is thanks to the event’s orchestrated seating. “There is always a guest perspective which is more pleasing to the eye than the other. This first perspective is always given to women,” according to the website.
EIGHT: Once you confirm, you must attend
Or prepare to be blacklisted by the white party. “Once confirmed, the presence of each guest thus becomes essential and mandatory, whatever happens and regardless of weather conditions,” state the event rules. Speaking of weather conditions, guests should prepare for rain by bringing a white raincoat or a transparent poncho, or a white or clear umbrella. Diner en Blanc does not look kindly upon guests who are spooked by the weather. Those deterred by “ominous clouds” won’t be invited to future events and their names and email addresses will be placed on a black list that bars them from registering again.
NINE: Diner en Blanc has humble beginnings
In 1988 Frenchman Francois Pasquier organized a casual dinner party to reconnect with old friends after having spent several years abroad. But his home garden could not accommodate all who wanted to attend, so he asked friends to gather at the Bois de Boulogne park in Paris, and he asked them to wear white (so he could find them). “Bring a meal, and bring a new friend,” was his request that year, according to the event’s website. The concept endured and evolved into what Diner en Blanc is today. It has been replicated in some 60 countries.