Part of the intrigue surrounding “Le Dîner en Blanc” coming to Jersey City for the first time this summer is the secret location and all-white dress code.
Finding its start in 1988 in Paris, this posh picnic tradition now takes place in more than 80 cities across 30 countries, with more than 130,000 participants.
The idea of having Le Dîner en Blanc in Jersey City came from the directors at Art House Productions, who wanted to put together an outdoor event for the community that the city hasn’t seen before. A suggestion of an event at which everyone wears the same color resonated, and that is how the organizers learned about the Le Dîner en Blanc and found it to be a perfect fit, said Meredith Burns, the executive artistic director of Art House Productions.
In true picnic fashion, invitation-only guests will handle supplying their own meals, tables, chairs, white linens to cover the table, and silverware. Most importantly, guests uphold the tradition of all-white attire.
Exactly where the picnic will take place is purposefully kept secret from guests until the day of the event. The attendees for the dinner must be invited by the hosts’ network, or they could sign up to be on the waitlist on the Le Dîner en Blanc website.
“The whole thing is supposed to be really a magical experience,” said Burns. “There’s a bit of a challenge to it (with bringing your own food, table, and supplies) … You’re not exactly sure where you’re going, but I think that’s what is fun about it. That’s what makes it an adventure. That’s why people are sort of obsessed with it because it has a mystery surrounding it.”
The waitlist has already surpassed 2,000, said Burns, who said the event will be capped at 1,000 guests.
While the date and time will be announced next week, invitations will go out on a “first come first serve” basis, but hopeful participants must respond promptly to reserve their spot. Despite the 1,000-guest cap, organizers are encouraging people to sign up since the unknown date and time may pose a conflict for many.
On the day of the event, guests will be directed to different “departure points” and meet with a volunteer group leader responsible for 50 people each, traveling to the Le Dîner en Blanc location together.
“Le Dîner en Blanc captures the spirit of friendship, community, and elegance,” said Burns. “We love the history and anticipation of the Dîner en Blanc events around the world. We’re excited to bring a little piece of Parisian style to Jersey City and to add some Jersey City arts elements to Le Dîner en Blanc.”
This is the first Le Dîner en Blanc that will be completely hosted by a New Jersey-based organization. Although there have been events in Atlantic City, they were arranged by a group from Philadelphia, said Burns.
Art House Productions hopes Le Dîner en Blanc will become an annual event in Jersey City, where the location will change every year and the participant cap will be bigger. The event is hosted in partnership with the city of Jersey City and the Office of Cultural Affairs.