Published on September 24th, 2013 | by Patricia Sully2
Let’s get weird: First Night presents Le Diner en Blanc
You know what I love? Weird shit in public spaces. People turning a carousel into a horse race? Amazing. Crosswalk sign hacks? Yes, please. A mob of Santas? Tell me where to sign up. Long story short: public shenanigans are great.
Which is why I am so excited to put on a white dress, go to Wright Park, and engage in some fine highbrow picnic tomfoolery. And I won’t even have to prance down an aisle first.
If you too are a fan of the odd and absurd, or if you you just have more white in your wardrobe than you know what to do with, First Night’s fundraiser, le Diner en Blanc may be just the event for you. Don’t know what that is? Don’t fret, I didn’t either. And it turns out, that is part of the point.
Thankfully, Google is the great equalizer/killer of secrets, so now we can pretend that we were hip enough to know all along. Le Diner en Blanc is a form of smart mob; folks show up for Le Diner en Blanc in a public space, set up a fancy-pants picnic complete with fine china and tablecloths, and commence with dining. Oh and everyone wears white. All white. Head-to-toe white. There is a lot of blanc.
Le Diner en Blanc isn’t something the organizers of First Night invented; it’s part of a worldwide trend.
Rumor has it that Le Diner en Blanc came about after François Pasquier invited some friends to a dinner party in a park, telling them to wear white so they might more easily find each other.
Twenty-five years later, these semi-secret smart mobs pop up all over the world, some drawing thousands upon thousands of guests.
Le Diner en Blanc, like so many things in life, has some rules. Folks are encouraged to dress all in white, bring a white tablecloth, and pack a picnic. When it is done, those in attendance pack everything up and leave the space unchanged. Basically, it is spontaneous monochromatic dinner party in a public park.
Tacoma needs this, my friends. Tacoma needs this.
As Le Diner En Blanc moved from Paris to the rest of the world, some of the initial secrecy has faded. It is no longer quite the covert affair it once was, with the information passed person to person through invitation or social media.
These days, tickets are often required and Tacoma’s First Night version is no exception. The money goes to support the annual Pierce County New Year’s festival First Night and at $10 a pop, it is a great and affordable way to engage in some good hearted shenanigans while supporting all the shenanigans to come.
The night will include a preview of the year’s music line-up, a live performance by members of St. Paul De Vence, as well as a first look at the incredible illuminated sculptures soon to be on display at the Oceanic 2013 Lumens Festivus.
Part of what makes public spaces so special is that they are, well, public. In a world where fences keep us from our neighbors and cell phones keep us from, well, almost everything, it can be hard to figure out how to engage with the people around us. We want to talk to other people, but we don’t really know how.
When we use public spaces in wild and unconventional ways, we implicitly invite others to join; the absurd bridges the gap, breaks down some invisible barrier, and provides us a natural point of contact and a shared experience.
You could go out to dinner every night of the week and never actually meet someone new. But go to Wright Park dressed in white to have an oddly formal and entirely nonsensical picnic? You are going to make some new friends, I promise.
So pack a picnic, grab a tablecloth (or hell, a sheet), don your whites, and head to Wright Park, September 26, 2013
6-8 p.m. Get weird and throw some feathers in your hair or accent your ensemble with twinkling Christmas lights, go big and wear that giant church hat you would never have any other chance to sport, or get downright classy and dress it up to the nines.
Come and laugh and look and then share a knowing glance with your the person next to you about how amazing it all is. Because sometimes, that is the best part of a public space.