The highly-anticipated Diner en Blanc secret dinner party came to Toronto for the first time on Aug 9, 2012. It originated in Paris over 20 years ago and now assembles nearly 15,000 people every year in various sites of prestige including the Pont des Arts, the Effel Tower site, the Louvre Pyramid, the Trocadéro Esplanade, Place Vendôme, Château de Versailles, the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the Esplanade des Invalides, the periphery of the Place de l’Étoile, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde and last year: The Carousel du Louvre.
Despite the rain and gloominess above, the 1,400 guests in white elegance came together to a secret location. We would be told that only at 6:00pm, and not any earlier, we would be notified of the standby location, and to arrive there at 6:30 since the actual event venue would be a 10 minute walk. At 6:30pm, the highly-efficient organizers of Diner En Blanc Toronto notified us by email and phone of the real event location. The stand-by location turned out to be the Thompson Hotel and we were pleasantly surprised to get the calls and emails, in fact, earlier than scheduled, that the actual event venue would be at Fort York, which was indeed a lovely outdoor space that was quite perfect for this special occasion.
It was interesting to be told that media must wear white from head to toe otherwise we wouldn’t be permitted entry. Some major media outlets disregarded those rules but I suppose they can get away with that!
The evening started with some rain and we watched guests arrived by the busload (900 by coach and 500 by foot) in a sea of white with umbrellas, white folding chairs, tables, tablecloths, centerpieces, and glassware. Guests organized themselves into their designated sections while being sereneded by performances by Against the Grain Opera Company. White helium balloons were distributed and after everyone was settled and seated, guests waved their white napkins in the air to signal the beginning of the dinner festivities. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful home-made centerpieces some people brought.
At about 9:30pm guests lit their sparklers to kick off the dancing part of the night with DJ Vinny Gruvhunter. To make things even better the rain let up mid-dinner and helped to raise the excitement for the dancing. It was a such a beautiful photogenic scene! At the end of the night guests packed up their belongings and collectively cleaned up and left the way they came.
It’s no easy feat to be able to organize a large-scale elegant, sophisticated pop-up dining experience. Diner en Blanc turned out to be one of the best and unique events we’ve been to! Everyone was having such a great time and the celebratory vibe was contagious. Diner en Blanc should definitely be continued in Toronto next year! If you get the chance to attend, you should
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