Our First Le Diner en Blanc (Tampa) Experience
Are you familiar with the whole Le DIner en Blanc experience? When I ask people, it’s usually 50/50. The people that have heard of it, love the experience and have great things to say about it. The people that haven’t usually have the opposite response when you tell them what’s all involved.
I learned about Le Diner en Blanc when I lived in Atlanta through social media. One night I was on FB (or Meta) and saw my friends in all white having a blast in the middle of Peachtree in front of the Fox Theatre, in the street with hundreds of other people. Now when I lived in Atlanta, I was (at least I like to think I was) in the who’s who and was invited to many things. However, when I learned this was invite only and I knew nothing about it – my ears perked up and I went into research mode.
I learned that Le Diner en Blanc was started with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier in 1988, Le Dîner en Blanc® de Paris continues to assemble close to 10,000 guest every year. In 2018 a record 17,000 guests from Paris and around the world gathered at the Esplanade des Invalides to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Le Dîner en Blanc® began as a strictly word-of-mouth event. Today, it has grown to rely on the Internet and social media to communicate with its members and others who are curious about the event. Although the technology behind this fantastic event may have changed over the years, the principles fueling it have not; guests continue to gather at a secret location with the sole purpose of sharing a gourmet meal with good friends at the heart of one of their city’s most beautiful locations.
What are the key rules of the event?
Le Dîner en Blanc® is quite different from other special events. The evening takes place in a crowded public place that was not designed for such a purpose. Dîner en Blanc must necessarily remain controlled in order to continue holding future events.
- In order to participate, guests must be a member or be sponsored by a member from the previous year, or they must sign up to official website’s waiting list.
- Once confirmed, each guests’ participation in the event becomes mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as Dîner en Blanc is a rain or shine event.
- Participants arrive and then depart in unison by chartered bus or organized public transportation.
- They take all of their belongings with them at the end of the night, including leftovers and trash, and they leave the site as clean as it was upon arrival.
Well, this was the first time they were having this event in Tampa. My husband was my guest, but my friend Jessica came as well with her close friend. My experience started out rocky with communicating with my team lead. Our event was on November 6th. We were able to get our tickets only 3 weeks before the actual event. So time was precious. There are certain things you have to have/do to attend. They also assign you table/group leaders to answer your questions up until the actual event. I emailed my table lead a question about a table, she didn’t respond for 6 days! That’s almost a week. I’m glad we didn’t wait on her or we would have been out of gas.
We had to purchase/bring a table (it had to be a certain size), white chairs, table cloths, napkins, we bought gold silverware, white plates with gold trim (our china) and a centerpiece. Not to mention our outfits. You can bring your own food or purchase it there. We bought it through them. We enjoyed it. Oh, you have to buy your wine through them and only bring coke products if you’re not drinking wine or champagne.
Here’s an Amazon list for all things Diner en Blanc.
When we arrived, we called our group leader. WRONG NUMBER. The person that answered the phone gave me another wrong number, then never picked up when I called back or returned my text for help. So, once we parked we walked to a couple different spots looking for our table lead. No one could help. It was frustrating. Not only was the number wrong, our table/group lead was not doing anything to find her people. She could have put something in the message boards and/or walked around to find us (her people). It was a mess and I thought my night was going to suck if this event is starting out like this. We finally found her after walking around with a wagon full of things for 30-40 minutes. PISSED. **It would be one thing if it were just us that were lost, but it was almost her whole group that was lost.**
One cool thing is you don’t know where you’re going to be dining until you get to the spot. When we arrived it was the Tampa zoo parking lot. We just figured we’d be in the zoo because once you park, you never walk farther than 6 minutes, so it had to be the zoo. It was the zoo.
Let me also say this, they told us our outfits has to be papercopy white. No ivory, cream, nude … but WHITE WHITE. We were at home stressing hard. I even bought another white outfit because my original dress was a tad darker than copy paper. When we got there … people had on ALL TYPES OF WHITE!! SMH! One girl had on a straight nude dress with snake skin boots! There was NO white in it! 99% of people had on white white, but for the few that tried it, they got by because no one was checking looks or anything else. I was kind of disappointed in that because we went to great lengths to do all the right things and no one was making sure everyone did what they were supposed to do.
Once we finally got in, we set up our table and the fun began. It didn’t take long to set up. My husband got our food and wine and we started taking pics. Tradition is, you do the napkin spin then eat. Luckily, we had a lady sit next to us that has been to multiple Le Diners and she told us all of tips and tricks. After we ate, we did the infamous sparkle light, then it was time to dance the night away. (Video footage below)
I promise that DJ must have known I was coming because he played all of my hits. I danced like I was in college or right out of college. We had a ball. Everyone had great energy and it was just a great night. We left around 9:30. It really was a night to remember. Would I do it again, absolutely. Would I do it in another city. Yes.
I hear DC is the best! I’ve had friends tell me about their experiences in Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, Jacksonville, Chicago, and New York. If I get the opportunity to go next year, sign me up!
Have you been? What’s your experience?