The inaugural Dîner en Blanc Perth was held last night. In the Q&A below, your questions are answered.
What is Dîner en Blanc?
According to their website: At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc’s” secret place. Thousands of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.
There isn’t a higher reason or fundraising component for charity, simply a beautiful event in a public space.
Is it simply an event?
Simply isn’t the right word to describe the Dîner en Blanc event. Much effort is required to attend as I discovered last night. One must bring everything, and I mean everything (except the one thing I wanted to bring, wine. No alcohol permitted the venue was fully licensed). Everything had to be white, eskies included. This is what we had to bring:
- Table 90cm x 90cm
- Table decorations – encouraged to get creative, electric candles, vase (not glass), flowers, etc.
- Crockery (no plastic permitted)
- Glasses (these had to be acrylic)
- Water / soft drink
- Garbage bag (white)
- Cloth napkins (for the napkin wave)
- Table cloth
- Lighter to light provided sparklers
- Esky – if bringing esky, must be white or covered in white cloth
- Your appetites and good cheer
Now, not sure how many people met the brief on the last point, after lugging all that stuff to the secret location which happened to be (predictably) Elizabeth Quay. We met at Maylands train station at 4.25pm and arrived at Elizabeth Quay at 5.50pm. There were meeting points scattered across the Metro area. As the Dîner en Blanc venue was kept secret, there was no option to drive and drop off furniture. Public transport there was the only option.
How many people went?
1554 is the official attendance figure quoted.
Did everyone wear white?
Yes, or at least they were instructed to. No cream, no ivory, off-white and no beige clothing were permitted. Just white. Nude shoes were permitted but white shoes were highly encouraged. It was noted that not everyone stuck to the rules in that regard, lots of off-whites spotted including some in the Dîner en Blanc organising team.
Was there anywhere to buy food and drink?
Guests could pre-order food and drink. No sales were made on the night, which meant one had to be organised and pre-determine how much one would like to drink on the night. We ordered one bottle between two of us (one driver), which was sufficient.
The queue to pick up pre-ordered food and drink needs better management. I queued for 30 minutes but heard others queued for over an hour to pick up their food and drink. It wasn’t the greatest start to the night, especially after lugging all our stuff from Maylands train station to Perth, then changing lines to EQ. The queue for drinks only moved much faster.
What sort of people were there? What was the crowd like?
A real mix in ages – from 18 years old to the elderly. That was my favourite part of the night – seeing such a wide spectrum of ages. They were all there to have a great night, and most people seemed to.
Was there music?
Yes. There was a violinist that travelled with us from Maylands Station, which was a nice touch. It added to the ‘decorum’ and set the tone. Not that every guest adhered to the ‘conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette’ house rule issued. Some Generation Why’s (pun intended) seemed to think getting drunk and dancing on tables was a good idea.
A DJ played some groovy tunes that was a fantastic mix of chart topping hits across many eras. I was bummed that the one ABBA song I heard happened to be playing as we were waiting for a taxi home.
Did people dance?
Oh yes, lots of stylish and not-so stylish dance moves on the makeshift dance floor under Spandex (see below).
It must’ve looked amazing. Was it a magical night?
It did look amazing. It was a stunning balmy Perth night and the backdrop of the city skyline in one direction and the Spanda (or Spandex as I call it) sculpture and the Swan River beyond in the other direction was really beautiful. 1500 people in white and white balloons and sparklers, in that setting made for stunning photos.
How did you get tickets?
This is the Dîner en Blanc thing – you need to know someone who knows someone to get a ticket. Once Dîner en Blanc has done those rounds, then a set amount of tickets are released to the public. In my case, a friend knew one of the organisers. Apparently 400 tickets were sold to the public and over 5,000 people were on a waiting list. I feel kind of special that I got to go knowing that.
Was it worth it?
I think so. It was quite an effort, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t cursing all the rules before the event. However, the event was fun (after a glass of wine to calm my queuing angst) and really beautiful.
Would I go again?
Yes, I would. Hopefully organisers will make some improvement on the event management side in relation to food and wine pick up. And now that I know how painful it is lugging all that stuff, we will be able to plan better for the next event to make the whole experience enjoyable from go to woe.
What would you do differently?
- Have better trolleys, secure ties (occy straps?) and less load on each trolley. Let’s be honest, transporting all that stuff is no fun. Imagine if it was a 38 degree day like the weekend before?
- Not order food. The food we had was ok – the duck liver parfait didn’t come with bread or crackers but was pleasant and the lemon meringue pie was sweet but nice enough. More fun and tastier to share food that you’ve made yourself. We had some impressive home cooks in our party of eight.
- Not bother covering an esky in white cloth – it looked hideous to start with, kept falling off during transport and was just an unnecessary rule in my opinion. I’d spend $5 on a disposable esky at the hardware store instead.
- Consider hiring tables and chairs rather than lugging our own
What would you do the same?
- Wear flat shoes and a hat
Did you go to Dîner en Blanc? What are your thoughts?