This post is definitely one of the “better late than never” ones since Le Diner en Blanc was in late September and it is now November. Oh well. I’m excited to share how the international dinner phenomenon made its way to Indianapolis. Haven’t heard of Le Diner en Blanc before? Well, in short: it’s a fancy dinner party where you have to bring all the stuff. And dress up. Oh, and everything has to be all white. This is a worldwide event that started in Paris in 1988. Some cool dude wanted to have a dinner party, but didn’t have enough room in his backyard, so he told all of his friends to meet him at a public park. He also told them to wear all white so everyone could find each other and sit together. Apparently, his friends really liked his idea because the dinner party became an annual event that grew and grew until other cities wanted to do the same thing and now 70+ cities across six continents host an officially franchised dinner each year.
Even though it’s not 1988 anymore, you still have to wear all white. You still have to bring your own picnic stuff, which includes table, chairs, tablecloths, silverware, napkins, coolers, a three course meal, and white trash bags. And you have to be fancy and on your best behavior. The whole point is to enjoy an elegant evening with friends, so people really go all out. No one comes to this who doesn’t want to follow the rules, so you end up with thousands of people wearing their Sunday best and bringing out their nicest china, candle displays, and floral arrangements.
When I learned that Le Diner en Blanc was finally coming to Indianapolis, I decided this was a “must do,” however, this event is a pretty exclusive one. People who have gone before get first dibs on registering and then they are allowed to invite their friends, who get to register next. After all those people have signed up, uninitiated folks can join a waiting list and hope your lucky number gets called (FYI, New York City has a waiting list of 45,000 people). Because not as many Hoosiers know about this dinner party yet, it was a good year to be on the waiting list because I was able to get in! Once in, you can only bring one friend with you, so Husband and I both got on the waiting list separately so we could have a double date with friends. Once we found out that we were in, we had to register online right away so we didn’t lose our spot. During registration, we had the option of ordering a pre-made picnic and some bottles of wine from a local winery. We decided that packing our own picnic would be a much better adventure.
After we were “officially” going, we had to plan. And this kind of planning is a spreadsheet endeavor. We had to get white tables of a specific height and width, white folding chairs, white plates, white bags to carry everything and so on. And buy all white clothes! From head to toe! And buy clothes in September, when most of the white stuff has cleared out for fall colors (which in some ways was helpful because we found things on sale). Not surprisingly, this turned into a very expensive evening. Registration fees were around $50 a person, plus all the white table setting supplies and all the food. Thankfully, my mother-in-law helped us out and ordered the tables, chairs, and coolers to our door. After everything arrived, we had to figure out how to strategically pack everything in a way that we could carry up to a mile because I haven’t mentioned yet that the dinner is held at a SECRET LOCATION every year! So you don’t know where you are going until the hour before the event! All we knew was that it was some kind of Indianapolis landmark and that we might have to walk.
All this prep may not sound very hard, but it definitely took some time. On the day of the event (which was a Friday night, which is not very practical if you have to get home from work, change into white clothes, and pack a picnic all before dinner time), Husband and I dressed in our white outfits, met up with our friends, and drove to a centrally located parking lot where we boarded a bus to drive us to our secret location. The people watching was really the best part of being on the bus because people are trying to load up while wearing long skirts and feathers and hats and beads and heels while also carrying baguettes, flowers, and cake stands. Once on the bus, we had to wait a loooooonnnng time before leaving. The invite said that we would leave “promptly” and gave strict instructions to arrive on time if you didn’t want to be left behind, but apparently some people missed the memo.
Since we didn’t leave on time, we arrived to a bit of chaos. BUT WE ARRIVED AT THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY to eat dinner right on the bricks. People were scrambling to set up their tables before it got dark and we ended up in the wrong spot and had to move and our whole bus missed some of the ceremonial parts of the dinner, such as the “waving of the white napkins” to commence the dinner. We made it, though, and got set up, decorated our table, and started eating. While we ate dinner, we were serenaded by ballet dancers and a marching band. After dinner, we walked around and checked out everyone else’s fashion and feasts while posing at several photo ops. Towards the end of the dinner, there was a DJ, but not too many people were dancing. And then, after all that work, it was already time to go home! So we packed our food and dishes back up, folded down our tables, and carried out our chairs. Back on the bus. Back to our cars. Still wearing white.
When I arrived home, I guess I was a little surprised that it wasn’t something “more.” I’m not sure what I expected, but for all the fuss I expected a little more from the international event. It really was just a nice dinner party where I had to do all the work. It was unique, different, and fun to eat dinner at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it seemed like quite a bit of effort to sit down and eat my own food on my own folding table. Since this was the first Le Diner en Blanc in Indianapolis, I know some of the kinks will be worked out regarding the bus delay, table placement, and timing, so I’ll be curious to see what next year looks like.
Will I go again? Probably. I have all the stuff now and I need an excuse for Husband to re-wear the white pants I bought him (although we didn’t realize until we were walking out the door that I forgot to order him a belt!). This is the kind of iconic event that everyone posts about on social media, so I think I would feel left out if everyone else was partying in white without me. AND! I will now be able to register in Round #1 and not have to be on the waiting list next year. We went pretty basic with our food for the first year, so I think I could put more effort into some gourmet picnic options.
So, now you know. That was my experience with the inaugural Indianapolis Le Diner en Blanc. And now you also know why this took me forever to write because this post is SO LONG! Has anyone else been to Le Diner en Blanc in your city? Would you want to go?? Let me know! Also, thanks to Sarah from IndyDressed for sharing her pictures with me!