Shrouded in mystery, you hear that a cool, secretive dining experience will pop up and a few hours later, break down. Few details are online--the dress code in white (which although after Labor Day was perfect because of the warm Washington, D.C. September) and the accoutrements for guests to bring such as a table and chairs for two, plus an elegant picnic. The location is revealed to the exclusive guest list only one hour before the event. Then Voilà! Dîner en Blanc, one of the original pop-up restaurants hatched more than a 25 years ago in Paris, came for the first time to the nation's Capital. The up and coming Navy Yards neighborhoods hosted us, at the Yards Park overlooking the Anacostia River. I arrived at #DEBDC14, luckily with nothing more than my picnic--lucky because I can't imagine hauling a table, chair, plus my eats--then setting it up, then clearing it to lug it back and unpack at home. But more than 1,500 people did, clad in white, some with elaborately decorated tables with silverware, china, and crystal. Jazz musicians strummed on guitars and caressed keyboards. The pièce de resistance in the form of the magical lighting of the sparkers was followed by the thump Thump THUMP of a DJ spinning a mix of techno, electronica, and Top 40 hit music.
Some guests confided in me that this was a Dîner en Désastre--given the logistical nightmare of having to haul like a pack mule on the metro during the jammed rush hour. One metro conductor, exasperated at the jammed doors and angry metro riders trying to get home, bellowed on the overhead:
You guys should have rented a truck!
Adding to the logistical nightmare was the metro escalators at the Navy Yards station which stopped working, leaving guests in white to climb to the top with tables, chairs, and picnic in tow.
Another person said the whole veiled-in-secrecy-until-the-last-minute meant she had to bring everything to work!
Point well taken. Perhaps this works in gay Paris but in schedule-focused D.C., people need to plan in advance. Someone even suggested Saturday which I don't think would work because the Yards Park is public. How are the organizers going to shoo parents, children, and love birds away to set up an enchanted evening?
Still, when we lit our sparklers, something in my heart burst. Along the water, all of us united for a minute in a color that symbolizes all the colors of the spectrum combined, I felt transported somewhere new, fresh, and different--thousands of miles away from the gridlocked and cynical politics of Washington.
But I was in D.C. and I love knowing that my city has transformed into a cool destination.
I didn't have to be gay Paris.
Not 17th Street (!), I was in gay D.C.
Check out my pics run through my favorite app Instagram that capture some of the allure of Dîner en Blanc which is scheduled to come back in 2015.
When was the last time you went into something totally blind?
Were you disappointed or deliciously surprised?
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xo ~ Viviana