The history of the elegant Le Diner en Blanc event can be traced to 1988 Paris, when Frenchman François Pasquier wanted to reconnect with his friends – but couldn’t host them all in his small garden. So he had a picnic in a local park; he asked his guests to each bring someone else, and requested that everyone dress in white so they could easily recognise members of the party.
That initial outdoor get-together grew to such an extent that Le Diner en Blanc is now an eagerly-anticipated annual event in 70 cities and 25 countries around the world.
The event’s exclusivity is a draw, as is the secrecy that shrouds it. The final location is only revealed at the very last minute, once guests have gathered at a departure point.
To make it onto the guest lists, attendees must either be participants from the previous year’s picnic (2015 in this case, since it skipped a year) or referred by previous participants.
All the other regular Toms, Dicks and Harrys have to get on the waiting list, which can often seem unrealistically long. A 2015 article in Forbes reported that the waiting list for the New York event was 35,000 strong, while the Washington wait list had 13,000 people.
In Asia and the Middle East, there are eleven Le Diner en Blanc events in cities like Bangkok, Busan, Mumbai, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong, among others. The one that’s closest to our neck of the woods is Le Diner en Blanc Singapore, now in its fifth edition.
The Singapore event has just been confirmed for June 3, and will see three brand new hosts – deejay and serial entrepreneur Alexis Lhoyer, event organiser Guillaume Chabrieres and brand advocate entrepreneur Jasmine Tuan.
Tuan says although she would love to divulge more details about the event, secrecy is paramount.
“As much as I would like to share my excitement about the event with you, we can’t! Everything (venue, entertainment, etc) has to be kept a secret until the day itself. The element of secrecy and surprise is what makes Le Diner en Blanc such a sought-after event,” she says.
According to Tuan, the 2015 event in Singapore saw 1,500 guests, who gathered at the Old Kallang Airport. The hosts would be happy to have that same number this year. As registration has only just opened, they don’t yet know what sort of numbers they are dealing with.
How to register
There are three types of registration: Phase 1 is for members who attended the 2015 edition, Phase 2 is for newbies referred by Phase 1 attendees, and Phase 3 is for people who sign up to be on the waiting list – singapore.dinerenblanc.com/register.
If you don’t qualify for Phase 1 or 2, your best bet is to sign up for the waiting list right this second.
The closing date for all three registration phases is May 20. The price for the Singapore event is S$46 (RM145) plus S$13 (RM41) for international membership.
There are a few rules to be observed once you’ve made it on that hard-to-get-on guest list. For one thing, your attendance is mandatory, regardless of the weather on the day. So if it’s raining cats and dogs, you’ve still got to show up!
White on white
Then there is the dress code – head-to-toe white only, which is how the picnic earned the nickname “the white party”.
Guests have to bring their own (white) table linen and chairs, a picnic basket with fine food, stemware and dinnerware; alternatively, a prepared basket can be ordered on the website, for an extra cost.
Guests often dress to the nines – white tuxedos, stunning white dresses, hats, even Storm Trooper outfits. They also bring table decorations, tiered trays or strands of pearls and white roses.
After setting up and eating up, guests clean up after themselves. That means once the picnic is over, it will seem like it never happened at all.
The event promises to be both picturesque and memorable. You’ll hang out with friends, eat good food, meet new people and get acquainted with a public space in the city.
As Tuan says, “It’s about celebrating life, friendships and togetherness through team effort, good food, and hospitality.”