Diner En Blanc Dallas 2015 // A Recap and What I Learned
aka A Mini Guide to the First Time D.E.B. Attendee
It's something you've heard about in passing and like many people including myself - the idea of a giant all white attire party sounds like a blast. I saw many people talk about it, post photos about it, pinterest it, but not a lot of the back end of the whole ordeal. I've read a few reviews about it in other cities and wanted to give that future attendee a chance to see all sides of it and really have a better informed decision about attending.
What's "Diner En Blanc"?
Diner En Blanc is (as stated verbatim by the D.E.B. Dallas site): "Launched with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier over 27 years ago, Paris' Dîner en Blanc now assembles nearly 15,000 people each year. The French capital's most prestigious sites have played host to it: the Pont des Arts, the Eiffel Tower site, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles, the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the Esplanade des Invalides, the periphery of the Place de l'Étoile, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Le Louvre Pyramid, Trocadéro Esplanade and this year: The Palais Royal Garden! The Paris police tend to tolerate this ‘wild' gathering, if not perhaps even wishing they could join in!..."
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…" - http://dallas.dinerenblanc.info/about
Alright, so you've decided you and your friend are willing to dish out the money and go. It's a month away. The registration is set up in three phases.
PHASE ONE: For Members Only - Obviously they get first dibs into the event.
PHASE TWO: By Invitation - you got a friend who's a member who can get you in.
PHASE THREE: Free for All - anyone without a membership or friend can sign up to be on a waitlist.
Each Phase is open at a certain time and date and then it's anyone's guess who gets in.
After putting my name on the waitlist, I had to wait for an email to arrive in my inbox which would show me more details, information, and an Invitation Code in order to register. In the email, they make very clear exactly what YOU (the attendee) must provide in addition to paying.
On Facebook, there's even a page that indicated tips on how to get into the event which I read just prior to my registration opening. See inset image below.
*Because the location is secretive, Dallas set up TEN points within DFW to meet up with your Group Leader and Team Leader and other participants in which from there you will ride the bus to the actual place where the Diner En Blanc is held.
TIPS FOR SELECTING A RENDEZVOUS
1. Check your Map - We were told prior to registration of the exact Rendezvous Points located - make sure you select your #1 choice that's closest to you and then 2 others as a backup because spots fill up quickly.
2. When you register, register fast! Don't wait to look at prices of other stuff you can purchase (you can do that anytime). TRUST ME. It pays to skip through and just get through the registration. It's better to secure your spot that you can even go at all than all the extra stuff they want you to buy.
1 - PREPARATION
If you really want to pinch pennies. You have to try really hard as in you need to get a list of all your items and sit down and figure out what you have, what you can borrow, and what you can buy. You can see from the rules below that there are so many details required. You need a table, chairs, food, plates, etc.
- Go through your house and triple check if you have random things like a cooler, a cart, white folding chairs, cutlery, plates - anything you have at home always will save you money
- Research Goods and Compare Costs - there are sites that sell D.E.B. specific kits that are great if you want the sheer convenience of a one stop shop but to save money - go through all your Thrift Stores, Goodwill, Dollar Stores and AMAZON - definitely
- Start early in collecting everything and keep them somewhere you won't forget - I'll explain why in the Logistics
- Ask Questions - the DEB site forums and emails from our group leaders were helpful and did their best to help and answer tons of questions - even the smallest trivial question you may have is worth asking. For example, the rules required our table was SQUARE but our table had rounded corners - would that qualify. The answer was "slightly" rounded corners were acceptable.
2 - COST
Everything adds up and again stressing doing your research you can save money. But when the months came down to weeks, my friend and I realized that some things are better worth spending your money full price than saving.
Just an idea of how much you could be spending - here's a look at my friend and I's final costs. We tried to really account for everything that purchased for the event even though we didn't use several of the items listed. And we both agree we could have cut back on several things but we got them last minute. For example - we both had trouble finding nice white shoes and so we had to splurge last minute but realized we didn't need to because we ended up wearing the white ones we already had.
If you're a busy person or just don't want to meal plan - BUY the dinners off the DEB site. My friend and I are both extremely busy people with full time working schedules so we knew we couldn't think about cooking the food and packing it up. You can't bring your own alcohol - it is required that if you drink any kind of alcohol you need to buy it from the DEB store. It's even nicer not to have more items to carry. The less to clean up is better. Also try to eat all of your food so you don't have to take home leftovers - another thing to carry.
But as you can see from our expenses, our biggest costs came from the food and the table set. The little things really added up and that's how your budget can slip to an insane number. I'm sure there are tons of guests who spent much less than us but we tried to also just estimate the person who had very little to nothing on the list.
3 - LOGISTICS
- PRACTICE Your setup - One rule you need to remember - you have to carry everything. So be sure to figure out what you want to bring by setting up your table at home like the real thing. This helped me and my friend map out how much would actually fit on our table. We were then able to cut down on the size of our plates.
- PACK up all your stuff the night before securely - Huge for the sheer reason of having to carry it from point A to B. Carry a table, two chairs, and a basket full of stuff isn't easy on anyone especially when the local is about 5-10 minutes away walking distance. I cannot stress enough the packing SECURELY aspect because when a million of you is all trying to squeeze to your designated space to set up your table - its going to be chaos. The last you thing you need is your stuff falling all over the place. I ran into a group of girls who were too lazy to get their stuff packed properly and all their items ended up spilling everywhere. None wanted to put down all their own stuff to help them so it created huge traffic and annoyance. Don't be that person. Be smart and be ready.
- PACK LIGHTLY! If you can do lighter items, less food to carry, disposable items when possible, the better. Some people go over the top which is totally fine - but if you would rather not have to carry it all back bring less.
- DRESS Comfortably. Don't wear some fancy outfit unless you really want to. But I recommend cute white flats or low heels or wedges. No one cares how your feet will look. Even though the rules stated that we needed to wear nice shoes - no one checked and the majority of people including myself wore white sandals.
4 - THE REALITY
Nothing goes as planned and as I had read from many other blog posts, there's things you're going to expect will be out of your control.
WEATHER - you can always count on the Texas heat to come when its least convenient
WAITING - there's so many people involved that no matter what - nothing will start on time. in fact, I had the blunt of the waiting because of the poor planning of time on the organization. They only gave 30 minutes for the buses to park and unload passengers at the location. I was on the second to last bus that unloaded and we missed the napkin wave. When you have over a thousand people going to one small bridge - who in their right mind thinks 30 minutes is enough time for everyone to be off the bus and seated at their table?
FOOD - Because I chose the DEB store's food from Wolfgang Puck, I had the convenience of picking up my food instead of carrying it around. But it was so disappointing how much it cost for how VERY VERY little the portions were. Delicious as it was, I wasn't full. But I was pretty occupied wanting to take pictures. Having not as much food allowed the champagne we purchased to be extremely effective. =) I had the chance to sit between two different tables. One table had two guests who were very minimal. They barely had any decorations, were able to fit everything they brought into a single medium sized picnic basket, and had simple finger foods like bread, cheese, and small desserts. On my other side, I had two women who brought all these little things for decorating their table. They too brought their own food but had a full course meal. I learned that watching this table on my right was way too busy setting up their table and preparing their food that by the time we had to pack up and leave they were taking their sweet time eating. It was interesting because it made me realize how much I preferred to be like the table on my left - low maintenance and keeping things easy.
ACTIVITIES - There were so many little small spots of different photo ops, music, and dancing. It was fun to go eat, explore, and run into friends all over the place. Not to mention the spectacle of outlandish outfits and elaborate tablescapes gave ample visual entertainment. There was even an after party at a nearby hotel. I opted not to go since it was still a week day and I had work to do the next day. But it's cool that they even had that option.
Would I do it again?
There's that phrase - Don't knock it until you've tried it. Now I feel good that I can do that. There were areas of weakness - like poor time management on the organization's part but overall it was a great experience. That same evening heading home, my friend and I both agreed that we had a lot of fun! It took our normal weekday and made it interesting! I got a chance to meet new people and see old friends again. Despite all the days preparing, the money spent, and all the rules that I worried over - I had a good time. Now writing about it weeks later, I ask myself the same question and my answer is a maybe. I think I may try throwing my own party with close family and friends. If money is your worries - I think you can find comparable events where you'll spend just as much money - the State Fair, a sports game, a concert, etc. Either way - I think the point I took from this is that no matter the cost, stay positive, have a good time and write a lengthy blog post. Thanks for your attention readers - it means a lot =)