If you’ve ever seen a sweeping image of Paris with a mass of people dining all dressed in white, then you’re probably already familiar with Dîner en Blanc. The French phenomenon stages large scale “secret” picnics around the world and asks participants to “share a gourmet meal with good friends in one of their city’s most beautiful locations.” Like numerous pop-up dinner concepts, Dîner en Blanc guests don’t get the scoop on the location of le très secret location until a few hours prior to chow time. 

Now Dîner en Blanc is coming to Charleston, er, again. Back in 2013 an attempted Holy City Dîner en Blanc was scheduled, but it fell through. “That event was spearheaded by another organizer,” says Cat Taylor, one of four local hosts including Linda Davis, Bryer Davis, and Annie Hamnett. “Diner en Blanc International was not a part of the planning, which may be one of the reasons why it did not happen. This year’s Diner en Blanc will be the first one to take place in the Holy City.” The dinner is slated for Thurs. Oct. 15. 

According to Dîner en Blanc’s website, the concept was created in 1988 when Parisian François Pasquier decided to organize a dinner with the “simple intention of gathering his friends after a long journey.” It has since grown and been thrown in 50 cities around the world. It caught the attention of the New York Times in 2011 in a profile that called the fete a “gustatory Brigadoon.”  

While we’re not entirely down with the dress code (nothing says “next stop my thighs” like tucking into some cold fried chicken dressed in a hip-magnifying white shift), a large-scale dinner with thousands of Charlestonians — perhaps at the Four Corners of Law? — could be pretty damn dreamy. 

Of course, to partake you must navigate the virtual invitation and surprisingly long list of rules, like guests are only allowed to bring Champagne or wine — no beer or liquor. You were going to bring beer? Who do you think Dîner en Blanc participants are? Peasants? This guy. Jeez. 

If you’d like to participate, here are the steps:

1. Guests must be invited via the hosts’ network or participating partners or get on the waiting list via the official website: charleston.dinerenblanc.info.

2. Once confirmed, each guest’s participation becomes mandatory, regardless of weather conditions. This is a rain or shine event.

3. Dress code: elegant and white only. Originality is encouraged as long as it is stylish and tasteful.

4. Table setting: all white

5. To ensure that the location is kept secret until the last minute, guests meet at an assigned departure location and are escorted by Dîner en Blanc volunteers.

6. In order to leave the event location as clean as when they arrived, guests are required to take all their belongings, leftovers, and litter once the event is over.

Guests are required to bring:

1. A table, two (white) chairs, white tablecloth.

2. A picnic basket comprising fine food and proper stemware and white dinnerware.

3. An option to pre-order food, which can be picked up at the site (participating restaurants are to be determined), will be available for those who do not wish to pack their own picnic baskets. Guests can reserve food online through Le Dîner en Blanc website during the initial ticket registration.

4. Champagne or wine. Beer and hard liquor are prohibited. 

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