This weekend I went to Melbourne’s ultra exclusive 2016 Diner en Blanc event. It’s an annual White Party that happens in cities all over the world, and would be likened to a flash-gathering for a giant dinner party. Almost 2,000 people arrived at the mystery location – Docklands! It’s unlike any event I’ve ever been to before, and the way its organised creates such a unique experience!
First of all, there are rules – LOTS OF RULES! 5 pages of rules, which are sent around to those who successfully buy tickets. And by successfully buying tickets, my friends and I beat out over 1,400 others who were on the waiting list to purchase tickets for this exclusive party. This only came about, for my friend Leanne was so inspired by the New York City Diners en Blanc event (which she crashed 2 years ago before getting kicked out) that she registered us to buy tickets for this event 12months ago.
Coming back to the rules, they are very specific. Everything from the exact dimensions of your table, to the requirement that everything be white. Your outfit, table cloth, napkins, floral arrangements, EVERYTHING, has to be white. My friends Shauna and Leanne did get away with having nude/tan heels, and I do recall seeing a man wear a brown belt, but apart from that, I imagine anyone who strayed further from the rules than that wasn’t let on the bus heading to the mystery location.
Yes, the location is indeed a MYSTERY! Nobody knows where we are going, even once we’ve bordered the bus. We are given locations to gather and wait for the charter buses, and only once we arrive do we find out where we are to dine. This year, the mystery location was Docklands, Melbourne. I heard that in 2015, they had Diners en Blanc by the Exhibition Center across from Crown Casino.
As for what they provide, you pretty much have to bring everything yourself. Not only your chair and table, but also the food and drinks. You can prearrange in advance to purchase baskets of food and wine from the organisers, but these things are not available for purchase on the night. If you don’t bring food and drink, you get nothing. NOTHING! I had a friend of a friend who didn’t know that, and her and her partner sat for 5 hours without anything to consume when they went last year. If that wasn’t bad enough, I’m sure it was worse given that everyone else is eating and enjoying themselves. Anyway, for food, we saw that most people brought cheese, crackers, sandwiches, and picnic dishes. My friend Shauna, a culinary enthusiast, designed a 3 course menu for us which included: Lamb Verde, Harissa Chicken, and even La Petit Gateau desserts! I can happily admit to being the envy of all the other people sitting around us. On top of that, we had to bring our own plates and cutlery, which again had to adhere to specifications set out in the 5-page PDF.
As for how everything comes together on the night, people really go all out with the White theme. Everything from gorgeous floral centerpieces, to white floral crowns, white balloons with lights, printed menus, to white meringue towers! People really use their imaginations. The table beside us had a flower tower stand which was amazing! I can say that it was easy to find our table among the crowd because we just looked for the centerpiece sitting on the table beside us. We weren’t to be outdone, and had planned in advance, doing research on things done in previous years. So I handmade floral centerpieces, matching floral crowns, printed menus for our napkins with a free menu template (downloadable link HERE), as well as other things.
Apart from bringing just about everything yourself, you might wonder what we actually paid $60 per person for. At least we wondered… The money probably went to gaining a location license, charter buses and ENTERTAINMENT! A full stage was set up in front of the landmark Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, which lights up at night (awesome) and the DJ was not only fantastic, but the live singer, Chloe Maggs (who wrote and recorded songs for the girl band Pussycat Dolls) was divine! She’s awesome live! Everywhere I turned around, there were smiling faces. The atmosphere was just something so special, and the energy was electric!
I have uploaded a photo gallery for you all to see below. If you want to read more about the Melbourne Diner en Blanc event, they have a site set up here. I highly recommend it, as it was certainly a worthwhile experience for me. I think if you’re willing to commit to doing your research and making the most of the event, it can be quite memorable!