5, 000 New York City francophiles, decked head-to-toe in all white, descended upon the Wagner Park waterfront in Battery Park City last night for the city’s sixth installment of Diner en Blanc. Last night’s warm and breezy weather was a pleasant change from the heat and humidity of last year’s fete.
The high profile event, which spans six continents, 25 countries, 70 cities, and 125, 000 participants globally, boasted a wait-list of 45, 000 people this year for the NYC location alone.
In keeping with tradition, the dinner’s location was kept secret until minutes before the start of the event. Elizabeth Angebrandt, a third year veteran of Diner en Blanc, explained that guests are instructed to follow specific protocol, such as mandatory white apparel, no paper or plastic tablecloths, and only wine and champagne permitted, which must be purchased from onsite caterers.
Attendees flooded the waterfront all at once and quickly set up their white picnic equipment, including tables and chairs, as well as fine china, silverware, and elaborate centerpieces. Elizabeth and Chaz Thomas, who brought a pergola arbor decorated with hanging paper lanterns, told us that they “wanted to bring a romantic ambiance to their table” and “preserve the magic of the night.”
Many participants dressed in extravagant ensembles, including gowns embellished with string lights, fairy wings, silk tuxedos, powdered wigs, enormous picture hats, and other elegant accoutrements. Basia Malinowska, who wore a dress adorned with wires and a top hat, told us that she spent a month on outfit preparation. A fancy feathered headpiece she wore last year has now become her table’s centerpiece.
A live quintet performed covers of jazz songs made famous by The Ink Spots, Billie Holiday, Django Reinhardt, Eartha Kitt and others. Hired professionals swing danced around the venue in pairs, and an FDNY harbor unit ship even sailed by, spouting streams of water to mark the occasion.
Dinner commenced at sundown, marked by a mass wave of white napkins in the air accompanied by the delighted whoops of the participants. Guests dined on their own specially curated meals: charcuterie, cheese plates, and desserts, many as opulent as their attire.
After dinner, the dancing continued. The jazz band was swapped out for a DJ and guests converged on the dance floor to let loose to Stromae, a Belgian electronic artist, as well as ’90s R&B hits.