About 1,500 people dressed in white from head to toe, sporting bows and boas, loaded up on the Expo Line from the west and the east to converge at dusk in the Exposition Park Rose Garden of L.A.’s Natural History Museum for an evening of candlelit picnicking and dancing on Saturday night.
Le Dîner en Blanc is a chic, secret pop-up picnic, where guests dress in white from head to toe. The outdoor phenomenon is held at a secret location only revealed upon arrival at the departure point. The Parisian-style “secret dinner” party came to L.A. for the fifth time this year, drawing a crowd of 2,700, many returning dedicated diners.
Thousands of guests are invited to attend an elegant picnic at a ‘secret location.” Established in France 30 years ago, guests meet at one of the predetermined destinations and are greeted by a guide who transports them to the final location.
On Saturday, Metro stations along the Expo Line were crowded with dedicated diners like Anne Marie from Santa Monica, laden with tables, chairs, food and decorations. It’s a peaceful and seamless process, even as hundreds of us lined up at the downtown Santa Monica station along with the usual throng of (bewildered) tourists. “Wow, that’s one big wedding,” one civilian rider assumed. We were greeted by a few hundred more happy riders en blanc at the Culver City station.
“We do it every year,” Annemarie Dalton tells L.A. Weekly. “I think it’s the suspense and anticipation of where we are going to end up and all the wonderful new and interesting people you meet. Last year we were in the courtyard of the Pasadena City Hall and it was such fun.”
Lined up between rows and rows of multicolored roses were tables loaded with diverse varieties of food and decoration. Dinner officially started with the 7 p.m. twirl of 2,700 white napkins in the air.
If you were at Annemarie’s California Wonderland table, it was primarily vegan fare, including spring rolls.
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Picnic baskets from chef Pete Manfredini, from sponsor Sofitel Hotel, included scallop carpaccio, chilled half lobster with fines herbes sauce, Belgian endive and fingerling potato salads, cheeses and Tropezienne for dessert and a constant flow of wine and Champagne.
Maximo Marcuso crooned in the gentle mist of the huge 1913 fountain at the center of the garden, while band leader Iliana Rose invited guests to the dance floor.
Since the first white linen tablecloth was laid out by Francois Pasquier and a few of his friends in Paris in 1988, Le Dîner en Blanc has grown to 80 cities in 30 countries.
For more images, see our slideshow from the event.