Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012 Dîner en Blanc - New York

Wow, last night's Diner en Blanc was so beautiful and "spontaneous"! It was one of those- "I LOVE NY" nights!

Although it was a pain to gather all the stuff (chairs, table, food, flowers, cutlery, etc) and lug it into and out of the subway, and then BACK into the subway, and then out again, everyone did it with such elegance and grace. The beautiful weather also helped- and the air was thick with the electricity and excitement of the unknown location of our dinner.

Glen and I were directed to meet at the NE corner of 23rd and 7th Ave, and we were joined by about 100 (?) other people all dressed in white. There were groups of people all in white on each corner, so pedestrians, cars, and shop owners were simultaneously bewildered, amused, and annoyed. We were told to simply answer any questions with "We are going to a dinner party" and not divulge any other details about the event, which some people were satisfied with while othes were completely insulted that we didn't let them in on "our secret".

Combined with the chaos of rush hour and the extra gear we were carrying, it was a bit of a harrowing experience getting down the subway steps, awkwardly carrying all of our gear. Our team leader didn't tell us where we were going until the uptown 1 train arrived at the platform... 59th Street Columbus Circle! They asked us not to post/tweet/upload photos in the case that people might crash the event, so they also kept the subway stop secret from us until the last minute.

When we were all gathered around the big sculpture/fountain at the SW corner of Central Park, we all assumed it would be right there- but I guess that was a decoy- we stayed at the corner there for a half hour before being ordered to march en masse up Broadway. Masses of people in white, carrying chairs, tables, candelabras were streaming from all decorations- down Columbus, up Broadway, coming down the side streets from Central Park West- and we all converged onto the grand plaza at Lincoln Center! 

For many of us who rarely are up at Lincoln Center's fancy digs, this was really a treat- I got shivers as we walked up those wide limestone steps and saw the sea of people in white setting up their tables in their appointed spots.
The decor and glamour of the event respected the prestigious, grand uptown location while the spontaneity, energy, and spirit of all the participants gave it a fresh, modern, "downtown" vibe.
Three thousand people quickly and efficiently set up their tables, chairs, unfurled tablecloths, set their tables with fine china, wine glasses, elaborate table decorations, and poured glasses of bubbly and sparkling beverages. 
Those who opted to purchase pre-boxed dinners and/or bottles of wine had to wait almost an hour to get their food/drinks, but Glen and I brought all of our own food and drinks, so we had plenty of time to watch all the tables get set while listening to the festive music (mostly French, a mixture of Edith Piaf and the soundtrack from CIrque du Soleil). 

There were tons of great outfits and accessories- sunhats, fedoras, floral hairpieces, tuxedos, wedding dresses, summery linen, lace, pearls, and feathers. 
There were even sailors outfits, traditional African attire,  and tutus.

We started off with a refreshing summer salad, focaccia, cheese and salami then moved on to a feast of eggplant parmigiana, lamb meatballs, roasted beets, two kinds of couscous salad and an orzo salad (yay, Sahadi's!).
We ended with a quick, light dessert- mango slices and cherries- before hopping up to join the crowd that had gathered around the fountain to dance and meet new friends. 

Even though the event was started in Paris, it was a fantastic, joyous, positive vibe- everyone seemed to be in their mid 20s to 40s- well-behaved, civilized, stylish, drama-free. I didn't think of it until now, but I didn't hear a single fight between couples or friends, no complaints about the gear, and no bitchy "head-to-toe once-overs"/glances on other outfits. I overhead a lot of compliments on outfits and table decor and people were sharing food and wine with each other. But when you looked closely, there was also the same debauchery that goes on in big crowds fueled by alcohol- which was helped by light sheer loose fitting white clothes- there were nipple sightings, "vajayjays" (really? no underwear under a mini white skirt?! ahhhh, it's summer in nyc), butt cracks exposed by low backed dresses, and more cleavages than you could count... 

A woman was dancing on top of a chair with a fitted white sheet billowing around her arms, a guy got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, we did the "wave" around the central fountain.

The night capped off appropriately with Frank Sinatra's upbeat "New York"- the entire plaza joined in and sang the last few stanzas together and erupted into cheers.

Then we all went back to our tables, quickly took everything down and neatly packed them into my little cart and wheeled off to the closest subway station. We exchanged secret smiles with other participants while the other subway riders looked on, slightly disinterested, and then went on with their lives. It's just another day in New York.

Raylene at left with flower wreath!

glen and I are at the center bottom of photo #8 - right behind the balloon strings!


Giuli said...

Awesome. Perfect site for a dinner in white...

lawrence said...

How fun! Very well written too!