Not with P-Diddy, but just as fabulous? The Paris Dîner en Blanc or The White Party, an invite-only secret dinner party descends upon a different and very public location each year: The Arc de Triomphe, Concorde, The Invalides…It’s so secret in fact, that even those connected by blood to the organizers do not know. The location is announced upon boarding pre-arranged buses that take the invitees to the dinner spot. Everyone must wear white, bring dinner in a picnic basket, chairs, table and champagne. You exchange food and dates (temporarily) with those around you.
From those interested in the history in 1988, the first official Dîner en Blanc took place in the Parc de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, started by a man named François Pasquier, who invited a few friends to the Bois de Boulogne one day in June on his return to France after being abroad. To find each other in the park, they all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided the next year, each person would invite some other friends and the event grew organically into the 10000+ dinner it is today.
Until 1991, the venue remained the same but numbers quickly escalated from 200 initially to 400, to 800 in 1990 and 1,200 in 1991. By 1992, it was necessary to conceal the location of the dinner and the current process of using point-people to coordinate a batch of tables and provide transportation to the event began. Here’s a rundown of the locations of the Dîner en Blanc from its inception to today
From a preservation perspective, we have always been impressed by the progressive view the Parisian government has on the usage of venerated architecture, permitting large electro parties to happen in the Grand Palais and other formal institutions. The police no longer try to break up the Dîner en Blanc, but we still think it reflects the spirit of Paris and its constant reinvention of history on already storied locations. It also raises an interesting question about preservation: do we over-protect historic buildings in America, thereby preventing the current generation from putting their imprint on the spaces? Perhaps preservation should also mean participation.
Here’s a look back to the prior locations of the Paris Diner en Blanc!
Paris Dîner en Blanc at Palais Royal. Photo by heleneworldwine
The dinner was located in the Palais Royal, with a rival unofficial dinner wrought havoc on the Louvre…