It was a quiet evening in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood when suddenly, a sea of thousands dressed in white descended upon a local park.
This was the scene as the third Dîner en Blanc Vancouver event unfolded, quickly transforming the space into a massive pop-up picnic. While relatively new to Canada, these secret suppers have become an international phenomenon from Singapore to South Africa.
Long before flash mobs, there was the original Dîner en Blanc. DeB originated in 1988 when founder François Pasquier decided to host a dinner for friends in a Parisian park. So many people wanted to attend that he asked everyone to wear white in order to easily find one another. Fast forward 26 years – 15,000 guests now attend the Paris event, while 30 cities on five continents host their own feasts every year.
Last Thursday afternoon, 3,200 Vancouverites gathered at various meeting points to await the reveal of the event location, which remains secret until the last minute. Once announced, the diners converged on David Lam Park, turning it into an all-white wonderland.
When the clock struck 7:00, everyone was instructed to wave their white napkins overhead to signal the official start of the meal. As they dug in to their dinners, guests were treated to an opera, aerial acrobatics, and the lighting of paper lanterns that were sent off into the night sky.
When asked his thoughts on the event, co-organizer Jordan Kalman of The Social Concierge summed it up in a few short words: “love is in the air.” While Vancouverites are often considered uptight, l’amour was definitely apparent on Thursday evening. Strangers chatted away while sharing their meals, pouring champagne for their fellow diners and forming insta-bonds over being part of such a unique occasion.
Despite it being an invite-only event, the crowd clearly reflected the diversity that’s so characteristic of Vancouver. And therein lies the essence of Dîner en Blanc: a mix of people from different backgrounds coming together to share in a common dining experience.
Even though it’s held in a public place, it creates such an intimate feeling. One minute you’re breaking bread beside a stranger, and the next minute you’ve become fast friends.
Want in on the action? There are a couple more DeB events happening across Canada this summer: Whistler on Aug. 28 and Calgary on Sept. 4. Register online and see if you can grab one of the coveted invitations to this secret supper club!
Photo credit: Jonathan Evans