Diner en Blanc: The Musser Perspective

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Diner en Blanc swept through DC last week, boasting fabulous-ness from every pore.  The concept–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.–seems like a great idea for a memorable evening.  The lucky invitees (or not so lucky?), are brought to a “secret location,” where they picnic in finery before dancing the night away.  Sound wonderful?  Let’s look at the real lead-up to DC’s first Diner en Blanc, from the perspective of a DC young professional and avowed “non-planner.”
BEFORE 
What have you done so far to prepare?
I don’t like to spend money, and I already spent $100 just buying tickets for me and my girlfriend and a bottle of wine (and that doesn’t even include food!). I don’t want to also have to buy a table, chairs, pants, etc, so I’ve been trying to find people who can simply lend me the stuff for the night. I’ve put out numerous requests on Facebook and Freecycle for things, but with minimal success. I was finally able to get white pants from my housemate and white chairs from a friend’s friend. My girlfriend has a table and a table cover, fortunately.
What do you still have left to do?
I have to make dinner tonight for tomorrow, I have to pick up white cloth napkins from someone who is lending me a pair, and I have to try and find white battery-powered candles.
How are you feeling about the entire endeavor?
Ugh. I really don’t want to be a whining curmudgeon about this (I chose to do this after all), but this really has been a pain in the ass. It’s been more stressful and frustrating than exciting. I’m not a planner, and as I mentioned already, I don’t like to spend money. Considering all I have is a white shirt, and I have to provide all of this stupid stuff that’s white, it’s been quite frustrating. It’s rather annoying to have to pay all this money just for access to something that I then have to do a ton of work for. At one point, I even looked into dropping out and seeing if I could get my money back. I hope it’s worth it.
AFTER

What happened last night?

Our group met up at 5:30 at the Eastern Market metro. I rushed there, because the directions made it clear that we needed to be there on time, or we may not be able to attend the dinner. We ended up hanging out there for a good half hour before we were finally told that the dinner was going to be at Yards Park. We boarded the metro with all of our equipment and food – during rush hour – and proceeded to Navy Yard. I found it pretty entertaining watching all of our groups from across the city swarming the Metro at the same time, dressed in white with tables and chairs in tow. Lots of strangers were highly confused and entertained, and some were annoyed. When we arrived at Yards Park, we set up our tables side by side and most people picked up the wine they ordered.

There was live jazz and being right by the river made for a lovely setting. My date and I enjoyed talking with the strangers on both sides of us and getting to know them. Some people at the dinner went all out!  It was quite entertaining seeing the people who stood out.

Once it got dark, the organizers passed out sparklers for us. I got really excited and spilled red wine all over my crotch (good thing I decided to find other pants at the thrift store instead of using my housemate’s!).  Later my date spilled her red wine all over the white table cloth. So we were a sloppy mess to say the least. Maybe red wine wasn’t the best idea, but we prefer that to white, so we gambled and lost.

After dinner the live jazz turned into DJed euro music and dancing commenced. I sported my wine crotch proudly, we got some pictures on white vespas, and chatted with some friends until the party died down. There was an after party at a hotel nearby, but these two 27 years-olds were spent and ready for bed, so we set out on a 25 minute walk home with our table and chairs.

What do you have left over?

Just a little bit of quinoa salad, and white pants, shirt, and tie stained with Pinot Noir.

Final verdict–worth it?

Worth the money? Eh, probably not – especially if you’re paying for your date, too! $100 for the opportunity to lug your own table and chairs and food to some place to picnic seems a little much. I realized that it would’ve been really easy to sneak in your own bottle of wine instead of buying one from them, which we were told we needed to do if we wanted wine. Was it worth the time and the hassle? Yeah, it was fun! I was stressing out before hand, but that’s because I hate planning and felt like as the boyfriend who came up with this idea, I had to do all the planning. However, she’s a natural planner, and I learned it’s better to let her complement my weaknesses instead of trying to take care of everything myself. Also, the rules are way more flexible than the directions make it seem, so next year’s planning won’t be as anxiety-ridden. Too bad I’ll still have to find a pair white pants again, though.

Read more about Ryan over at Spotted by Locals, here.  To read more about Diner en Blanc, see City Paper’s excellent wrap up, here.
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