The wear-all-white dinner party that keeps its destination a secret until the day of the event will return to Dallas for a second year. Diner en Blanc party planners told GuideLive exclusively that this year's soiree will take place Sept. 30.
Your guess is as good as mine as to where the party, called a "fancy picnic" by our own Tiney Ricciardi, will take place.
We tried to get it out of the event organizers. No luck: "It's too dangerous" even to give hints, says Karen Raehpour, who plans the event along with D-FW women Marti Fox and Rachael Kissel.
If you didn't attend the invitation-only event in its inaugural year in Dallas, let's set the table. There's a strict wear-white dress code. People board buses all over Dallas, lugging food, tables, chairs and even elaborate centerpieces to an unknown spot. Some make extravagant hats or dish out big cash for white dresses or tuxes. One Richardson woman even brought a white birdcage as a centerpiece, and it won her a Celebrity Cruise for two in Europe from Diner en Blanc International.
Odd? Sure. Alluring? Definitely.
Diner en Blanc is a French tradition that started with a small group of friends in the 1980s and blossomed to 15,000 people in France in 2015. Fancy folks in about 60 cities now participate in this pop-up party.
When Diner en Blanc arrived in Dallas, 8,000 people wanted to attend the exclusive, invitation-only event in Year One. There was room for 1,600.
This year, the mystery location can accommodate 2,200 people. One of the few things we know for certain about the 2016 event in Dallas is it won't be on the Continental Avenue bridge, last year's secret spot. (The Continental Avenue Bridge is located parallel to Dallas' iconic Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.)
"We always want to switch it up every year," Raehpour says.
One teeny tidbit: Wherever it is, the dinner will take place outside. Diner en Blanc is always outside unless there's dangerous weather.
Of note, the Sept. 30, 2016 party falls on a Friday, whereas last year's dinner took place on a Thursday. Raehpour, who is owner of Just Show Up! Meetings and Events, said participants offered this feedback: Move Diner en Blanc to the weekend.
How to get there
There are a lot of rules to Diner en Blanc. Let's dive in.
You pay for a ticket. Tickets cost $45 per person to attend, and tickets are sold in pairs. Catering costs are extra. (See below.)
You bring your own food or pay for catering. You bring your own tables and chairs. This is a pop-up dinner. Those who choose to bring their own food must also bring plates and silverware, then take it all home afterward. Attendees can also purchase dinner -- "a French inspired Texas menu," hosts say -- from Food Glorious Food. Pricing starts at $45 for two people for three courses.
Attendees also bring white tables and chairs. Event organizers note that the event gets less expensive if you're a repeat attender because many tend to purchase appropriately-sized tables and chairs and then reuse them in the years following.
You wear white. Ivory is not white. Cream is not white. Light pink: No way is that white. They're not kidding around about the dress code, and yet, in Dallas' inaugural year, the hosts didn't enforce the strict dress-code rules, GuideLive's Ricciardi noted when she attended the party.
Year Two will be different: "If someone shows up in brown pants, we're going to send them home," Raehpour says. "In our survey, people were upset we didn't monitor things a little more closely. People put a lot of effort into this, and [for] the people who did what they were supposed to do ... it was upsetting to them that we were a little bit loose." She clarifies that they don't want to take the fun out of the event. But rules are rules.
You have to be invited. Worry not! We know how to get on the list.
- Step One: Get on the waiting list. You will be alerted when tickets go on sale.
- Step Two: Keep an eye out on Facebook for ticket reminders, which will start three or four weeks before the Sept. 30, 2016 date.
- Step Three: Buy tickets, quickly. Protip: Everyone on the interest list gets an invitation. But, like buying tickets for a popular concert, you have to act fast to snag a spot.
Last year, Diner en Blanc in Dallas sold out in 10 minutes.
You can volunteer. Want to lead a team of foodies and save money? Diner en Blanc accepts volunteers, who attend for free and are able to get a guest in gratis, too.
You'll get a show. After dinner, Diner en Blanc will host an extravagant fireworks show to finish the night. Sponsors such as Southwest Airlines and DFW Mercedes-Benz Dealers will also hand out goodies. Those who want to make it into a staycation could consider the $209 hotel package at Omni Dallas.
(Does that mean the dinner will be in or near downtown Dallas? Not sure.)
Diner en Blanc was one of the big foodie events of the year in Dallas, in part because of its novelty and exclusivity. Last year's event needed more organization, Ricciardi noted. Event organizers assure that their steering committee is five times larger this year.
The spirit of Diner en Blanc is simple, organizers say: There's fun in the unknown.
"Here in America we rush to eat our food, to get back to the job, or on to the next task," Kissel says in a statement. "Diner en Blanc channels the way Parisians dine, bringing great attention and care to food preparation, décor, and attire, making it a cherished ritual and celebration of friendship and togetherness."