The normally green David Lam Park in Vancouver’s Yaletown district turned into a sea of white for the third annual Vancouver Dîner en Blanc outdoor dining phenomenon last week.
Over 3,000 people, dressed head to toe in white, attended the sold-out exclusive pop-up event that takes place at a secret venue each year, with the location being revealed only an hour before the scheduled start time.
“This one was a real challenge to keep secret, I mean, we’re surrounded by probably 10,000 people here, who live directly looking down on our secret location,” says Jordan Kallman of the Social Concierge, the local group responsible for putting together the night’s festivities.
“Leading up to the event, the key for us is always using those words ‘secret location.’ That’s so key — we train ourselves to make sure we’re never saying the venue’s name or accidentally slipping and that’s a big part of keeping the mystery year round. But today, specifically, was a little bit of a challenge but I still think up to the very last second people weren’t quite sure where they were going.”
The mystery is part of elegant dinner that also takes place in other venues around the world. Dîner en Blanc is described as “promoting friendship, gallantry and a sense of community.” Guests bring their own table, chairs and fine china — that are also required to be white in colour — as well as a picnic basket filled with appropriate foodstuffs. Aside from simply dining, guests are treated to a visual and auditory experience.
We produce the Dîner en Blanc not only in Vancouver but also in Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton. For Vancouver especially we really wanted to amplify the arts and culture level of entertainment for the Dîner en Blanc Vancouver,” says Tyson Villeneuve, co-organizer at Social Concierge.
“We’ve partnered with the Vancouver Opera, we have over 15 interactive dancers and art installation artists from Arts Umbrella alone. We’ve got stilt walkers behind us, there’s non-stop entertainment that comes with different types of art installations. We are very, very committed from not only a perspective of Dîner en Blanc and sharing French culture, but also we are very committed to arts and entertainment in this city and we want to try share it, and it’s such a beautiful environment, as best as we possibly can.”
The evening was kicked off with guests collectively waving white napkins, sort of like a fancier version of spinning towels at a Canucks playoff game. People huddled for photos around giant white air-filled balls that had “LOVE” written on them. As dusk approached, hundreds of sparklers were lit and white lanterns were set afloat. There was even a woman garbed in a white dress made of LED lights who danced on stage at one point.
The first Lower Mainland edition of Dîner en Blanc took place in Olympic Village. Last year, it was held at Jack Poole Plaza. For more information, visit www.vancouver.dinerenblanc.info