Tonight is the 2019 edition of the New York City Dîner en Blanc, the pop-up white party which has taken over Nelson. A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. This is the ninth year the dinner has taken place in New York City, with the concept originating in Paris and the second time it will be in Rockefeller Park (the last time was in 2015). The very first Dîner en Blanc took place in 1988 on the initiative of François Pasquier who decided to gather a few friends in the Bois de Boulogne on his return to France after living 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 in Paris.
François’ son, Aymeric, founded the Dîner en Blanc International, which spread the concept to 80+ cities around the world. The attempt is to keep the sense of spontaneity intact, which is admittedly much more possible in Paris than in New York City where security guides nearly all decisions from urban design to event organization. A public location is rented in advance here, versus taken over – and previous dinners have taken place in Bryant Park, Lincoln Center, Governors Island, Hudson River Park, and more. Guests are organized and led by a pyramidal system of table leaders and group leaders, who pass information to the guests and lead the guests from various pre-arranged meeting spots located all over the city.
The waitlist for this year’s New York Dîner en Blanc reached 80,000 people and 5,500 guests are expected to attend, with some possible rain and thunderstorms later in the evening. But the event is rain or shine, and we’ve brought our clear umbrellas with us! The Fireboat John J. Harvey even made an appearance at the party. [Update: and then it rained, HARD. Our group, after doing a lot of dancing in the rain, reassembled our tables inside the World Trade Center Oculus and ate our desserts! Kudos to Port Authority security for allowing for a great New York City monument to unfold for us].
If you are interested in more about the Dîner en Blanc, you can watch Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young in the only documentary about the dinner. She has been attending the Paris Dîner en Blanc since 2010 and has been a group leader for the New York City dinner since its inception.
Check out more photos from tonight’s event below and follow our evening on our Instagram story!