Diner en Blanc’s sixth New York City edition may have been its most spectacular yet.
“This is the best view you can get in Manhattan,” says Sandy Safi, co-founder of Diner en Blanc International. “We’re very fortunate tonight with the weather and this fantastic space to have the Battery welcome us.”
This year’s mystery location, revealed to the 5,000 attendees only an hour before the event, was Robert Wagner Jr. Park, just north of Pier A Harbor House. Tables were set up in the grass right up to the New York Harbor esplanade and reaching almost back to the street. All diners have to supply their own chairs, tables, plates, glasses and tablecloth, yet many go way beyond that, stringing up lanterns, creating light-up displays and making elaborate table centerpieces.
And then there’s the food, which well over half of the crowd cooks on their own. “People go all out,” says Safi. “They bring everything, I’ve seen lobster, amazing trays of shrimp, they put a lot of time and effort into preparing a dinner for themselves and their friends.”
The premise may scream Instagram bait, and people do indeed dress their best with light-up hats, ‘20s-style ensembles and dapper sailor suits. But what makes the event special is the sense of community that springs up between the tables. Maybe it’s having carried all of their supplies together through the subway or all the Moet bubbly, but the good vibes are real.
Diner en Blanc is held rain or shine, and though the weather cooperated, there was every chance of a downpour like last night. Why not take it indoors?
“Being outdoors adds to the spontaneity, the mystery, enjoying the public spaces,” Safi explains. “This event really is about redefining the landscape of where you’re at.
“This is a space that you typically walk through, but people may not have paid as much attention to it as it deserves. And tonight, that landscape has been redefined with this dinner, and when you walk through the space once again, you’ll look at it in a different light.”