Lincoln Center has never gotten down quite like this. Tonight, 3000 revelers took in the night at the NYC Dîner en Blanc, descending upon the plaza and its famous fountain for four hours, eating, drinking and dancing surrounded by the three pillars of Lincoln Center–the Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall and the American Ballet Theater. The plaza turned into such a rocking dance floor even the security guards got into it.
I have been fortunate to have been involved in the Dîner en Blanc in various incarnations–as an attendee in the mythical Paris Dîner en Blanc for the last three years and in the NYC debut last year. I thought that this year’s dinners at Notre Dame, Place des Vosges and Versailles would be hard to beat, but the dance party at the NYC dinner tonight Lincoln Center may have trumped that.
I was a group leader for NYC’s second production of the famous pop-up white dinners. In charge of 250 attendees, I witnessed first hand this year how the events come together. At the top of the pyramid, the Dîner en Blanc International partnered with NYC-based company, French Tuesdays, to produce the event and select the location, caterers and other details. There were 10 group leaders, myself included, each in charge of 4-5 table leaders. Each table leader was in charge of 60 guests, or 30 tables.
The location is of course kept a secret by the organizers and group leaders until the very last moment. Assigned a designated meet up location for my group, I separated my table leaders out to specific corners and landmarks in our pickup location at Broadway/Lafayette. Staggered, we entered into the subway station and headed en masse on the B/D trains up to Columbus Circle, unleashing a flood of white up Columbus Avenue, carrying all the accoutrements needed for this dinner–tables, chairs, food, table settings and more. At precisely 6:30pm, we took over the Lincoln Center Plaza.
New York City is a difficult city to plan large-scale events, due to its rules on public gathering, alcohol, food, noise, how late an event can go. So for a dinner that is supposed to be spontaneous, a large amount of behind the scenes planning needs to take place–and more importantly, the location has to be majestic or the event could run the risk of feeling catered and corporate. In New York City, all of the registration fees collected go into the rentals for the location, which range between $20,000 and $40,000. Was it worth it? I’ll let you be the judge, but you probably won’t see this happening at Lincoln Center again anytime soon.
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