The most striking thing about the 2012 Dîner en Blanc was its marked shift into modernity–retaining the traditions but embracing the new. When two dance parties broke out to live bands playing rock and pop songs, everyone young and old began to throw down.
The lead up to the event was as exciting as always. The location is kept secret until the moment of arrival, but it’s always at one of the numerous landmark pieces of architecture in Paris (Here’s a look back to previous locations). We all tried to guess where we were going based on the neighborhoods we were passing through on our bus: One by one, we were fooled. Arc de Triomphe/Etoile? Place Vendome? The Invalides? After we passed Eglise St Germain it became clear that we were either going to be on the banks of the Seine or at Notre Dame. A friend texted me that his group was at Places des Vosges. There would be two locations again, like last year. And then in a surprise move, another dinner in Versailles the next night.
In the midst of a traffic jam, thousands of people descended off the buses and removed their tables, chairs and picnic baskets and flowed into the plaza in front of Notre Dame. This dinner may have started a little later than the one at Places des Vosges, but spirits were as high as always.
This year was a particularly interesting for me as I had been followed all day, reality TV style, for an officially sanctioned documentary about the Dîner en Blanc. When asked how it was this time compared to previous years, all I could muster at the late hour was that it was as breathtaking as always. There is no other city as beautiful as Paris on the evening of the Dîner en Blanc. But the magic has always been about the spontaneity and the camaraderie amongst the attendees, more so than the food, the fashion or the décor. And at 11pm when all the sparklers are lit, we are all reminded of how fortunate we are to be in such a spectacular event, created with no purpose other than to share in a moment together. I hope these photographs convey this spirit.
And then in a surprise move, the Dîner en Blanc hit up Versailles the very next night. To read more about my past experiences at the Dîner en Blanc, check out photographs from last year’s event at the Cour Carée du Louvre and in the year prior in front of the Louvre’s I.M Pei Pyramid.
[I’m often asked how to get an invitation to the Paris Dîner en Blanc and I have some very special people to thank for welcoming me into this event. The Paris dinner is too large now to open up, but I recommend those interested to check out the dinners in other cities run by the same organization where a public sign-up process is available online.]