WFAEats
12:00 am
Wed August 8, 2012

An Impromptu Flash Feast In Charlotte

White Dinners or
Credit Pamela Roberts

White Dinners in Charlotte event dinners are modeled after the international society “Diner en Blanc” in Paris that are held on public spaces, a 25 year tradition of gourmet food and wine. The event began in Paris by a handful of friends and has grown to attract thousands of participants.

How it works in Paris:

  • The location is kept secret until just before the event happens. The time and day of the event are the only things known until a few hours before the event begins.
  • You can see groups of people dressed in white and carrying tables and picnic baskets, gathered at metro and bus stations all over town waiting for the location to be revealed.
  • Social media is used to communicate the location.
  • Once the location is revealed, they move.

Suddenly, people from everywhere converge on the location, set up tables, chairs, spread white tablecloths, unpack food, pour champagne and have a great time. The tables are set up in long rows, end to end, men on one side, women on the other according to tradition.

Annually, thousands (my estimation is about 10k for this one) of Parisians gather and have what they call the
Credit Photo and caption by Flickr/KarlStrope

Some cities arrange mass transportation for attendees. They get picked up at a rendezvous point and transported to the location. Others use buses and trains. The White Dinner is like a foodie flash mob. But when the participants leave, the space is left clean and it appears as if nothing ever happened.

Everything in white contributes to a dream-like quality to observers. Is it real? What is going on? Some people wear masks, feathers, hats, and even wings, all in white, which contributes to the fantasy-like quality of the magical event.

Here in Charlotte, things aren’t so casual. Like the beginnings in Paris, White Dinners in Charlotte began with a handful of friends. How it works in here:

  • The events are held on private lawns because it is against the law to drink alcohol on public property without proper permits and licensing. Who wants to risk a ticket or worse, an arrest?
  • We are in the process of gaining permission to use prominent public places that will showcase the city of Charlotte so White Dinners can carry on in the traditional manner: occupying public space, drinking wine and champagne. Until permission is granted, we use private lawns.
  • Events have a fee to attend. The cost is $35.00 per person.
  • The fee goes toward the organization of the event, advertisement, permits, security and a stipend to the private lawn owner whose lawn gets trampled during the use of the space. In addition, the fee will go towards joining the international Diner en Blanc Society in 2013.

There are a few rules:

  • Bring your own table and white chairs, if possible
  • White table linens only
  • White attire mandatory – colors spoil the look
  • Bring your own food and drink
  • Bring your own china, glass and silver
  • Only wine and champagne, please no beer or other alcohol (on public property this is more important than private property.) Again, licensing and permitting issues.
  • Nothing gets staked into the ground.
  • Nothing can be attached to or removed from any landscaping. Strictly enforced!
  • Candles with hurricane lamps are encouraged
  • Bring a trash bag to clean up any mess you see or make

How do I sign up?

In order to attend you must be invited by someone who attended the previous event. If you attended the previous event, you are automatically invited. If you do not know anyone who has attended you can request to be on the waiting list:

  • Send an e-mail to spoonfeast@gmail.com
  • Request to be on the waiting list for White Dinners in Charlotte
  • Include your name, e mail, address and phone number
  • If space is available, you will be contacted 48 hours ahead of the event. Space is limited; we simply cannot accommodate a large number of people at this time.

Visit the blog to learn more.