Tacoma meets Paris on Sept. 26 for Le Dîner en Blanc at Wright Park. Hosted by First Night Tacoma organizers, this novel and distinctly European event invites one and all to come dressed in as much white as you dare in the grand tradition of Le Dîner en Blanc founded 25 years ago.
First Night board member and Tacoma artist Lynn Di Nino has been out and about generating buzz about the event. “People I'm running into are energized by the idea and planning their wardrobes,” she said. “Someone I know is planning on coming as a white statue. Sure, it can rain, but we're used to the Northwest and can just party-on anyway.”
Diane Hansen, a First Night board member, glass artist and owner of Bella Balls in downtown Tacoma, presented the idea to the First Night board.
“We were looking for something fun and unusual that Tacomans could get behind,” she said. “I had been in San Francisco driving around seeing all these people dressed in white and carrying picnic baskets and candlesticks.” She turned to the Internet to find out what was going on and was taken with the whole Le Dîner en Blanc concept.
Hansen and Di Nino called it “a smart mob” – everyone brings a white tablecloth and wears as much white as they wish, maybe even elegant white. They also bring a picnic – the hosts provide the linens, utensils and place setings – and suddenly appear in a major urban public space where they set up tables with gourmet food, china and cutlery and they eat – with good manners, of course. Then as soon as they appeared – poof! – they’re gone.
The point? It’s a feast for all the senses, and it’s fun. Plus, it’s a fundraiser for First Night Tacoma this coming holiday season, our city’s annual farewell to the old year and hello to the new one.
“So far, this will be the only fundraiser, although we expect to send out weekly mini-newsletters to keep people informed as to what specific entertainment to expect and to build anticipation,” Di Nino said of the coming First Night plans. “This year I may do a feature performance art piece, involving the arts community.”
Le Dîner en Blanc started in Paris in 1988, the dream-made-real of François Pasquier and his close friends. The event now brings together more than 15,000 people each year in some of the most prestigious locations throughout the French Capital and across Europe, in Canada, Mexico, Haiti, Singapore, Australia and throughout the United States in more than a dozen cities.
The concept is best described in this excerpt taken from http://paris.dinerenblanc.info:
“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.
“Over the course of an evening, the diners enhance the function and value of their city's public space by participating in the unexpected.
"Beyond the spectacle and refined elegance of the dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse backgrounds by a love of beauty and good taste.
“Le Dîner en Blanc recalls the elegance and glamour of court society, and diners engage one another knowing they are taking part in a truly magical event.
“There are no disruptions: no car traffic, no pedestrian traffic, except for the occasional amazed and astonished looks from passersby at the scene unfolding before them. And we, as they, wonder whether it's all not a dream…”
Here in Tacoma, Le Dîner en Blanc revelers will be entertained by the breathtaking fire dancing of L. Lisa Lawrence and special musical guests Benjamin Doerr & Lydia Ramsey of St. Paul de Vence. The Oceanic 2013 Lumins Festivus, organized by Adam Martin, will be previewing their amazing illuminated sculptures while guests picnic. Just two days later, Sept. 28, Lumins Festivus – a procession of light and luminarias – happens in Tacoma starting at Wright Park at 6 p.m. Learn more at http://www.tacomasoutsidersguide.com/the-2013-lumins-festivus.html. Your Le Dîner en Blanc hosts will also provide a few tasty hints of what’s to come on First Night this Dec. 31 (such as a Trojan horse to help ring in the Year of the Horse).
“We will be putting out calls for (first-night) volunteers and will need many,” Di Nino said. “Naturally we're trying to get donations to support the presentations we're doing this year. This particular board is highly energized and starting the preparations earlier than it has been done in the past. For the first time ever we're creating a 'fan' base by collecting email addresses from supporters.”
Tickets to Le Dîner en Blanc are $10 per person and can be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/441517.