Every year for the New York City Dîner en Blanc, the pop-up white dinner for thousands that originated in Paris, the question arises: will the guests have to take a boat? This year, for the eight annual event, it’s true! 6,500 guests met in designated meeting locations throughout Lower Manhattan in the late afternoon and took chartered ferries over to Governors Island, the surprise location for this year. Once on Governors Island, the guests brought their tables, chairs, food, and fancy decor to the Parade Ground located on the eastern end of the island. The island was closed to the general public once the event began, with official napkin waving to signal the official start of dinner to take place at 7:30 PM. With over 55,000 people on the wait list, the New York City Diner en Blanc is always one of the hot tickets of the year, and despite warnings of rain, the party got took off (albeit with a slower pace due to the complexity of the transportation this year).
The revelers were situated in a wide grassy expanse between historic structures on the island. Colonels Row to the west, Fort Jay to the north, the yellow wooden houses along Nolan Park to the east and Cornelius Chapel to the south. Many of these structures date from Governors Island’s past as an U.S. Army headquarters and Coast Guard installation.
The New York City Dîner in Blanc is one of 80 cities that host the event worldwide and is produced by local partners (Linda Davis, Christine Tripoli and Peter Kohlmann) with oversight by the Dîner en Blanc International, the organization founded by Aymeric Pasquier and Sandi Safi. Pasquier is the son of François Pasquier, who started the phenomenon in Paris, first simply as a dinner in the Bois de Bologne to reunite with his friends after living abroad.
Information about each year’s event is disseminated to guests, who purchase tickets online in a staged system based on past attendance, by a hierarchical system of volunteer leaders. The guests meet at a predetermined meeting location, all over New York City and Brooklyn, and take public transportation to the site, which is kept a secret to the guests until the moment of arrival. With the unique location this year, subway was avoided completely and the ferries were the only mode of transport.
Check out photos from this year’s New York City Dîner en Blanc!
Next, check out the history of the Dîner en Blanc locations in Paris, the past locations in NYC, and see the documentary about the Diner en Blanc in Paris featuring Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young.