Le Dîner en Blanc originated in Paris, France in 1988, and has grown to 23 countries and 90+ cities across the globe.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY LE DINER EN BLANC
Registration is underway for the popular Parisian-style pop-up picnic Le Dîner en Blanc, which will make its Palm Springs debut Oct. 9 at an undisclosed outdoor location.
And make sure you have an all-white wardrobe available. That’s another part of this “friends and word-of-mouth only” event that started in Paris in 1988 and has expanded to 23 countries and 90+ cities. Palm Springs joins Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County of the California cities that have hosted the event.
To register for a spot on the waiting, visit https://register.dinerenblanc.com/palmsprings/en/register.
The waiting list closes Sept.1. Palm Springs hosts Geoffrey Macon and Glenn Alexander say they expect to have 640 guests, and encourage people to register before it sells out.
Guests at Le Dîner en Blanc signal the start of the event by twirling their white cloth napkins in the air.
Le Dîner en Blanc is a dining extravaganza where guests gather at an outdoor, undisclosed location that is revealed upon arrival at a meeting point for the sole purpose of sharing an elegant dinner with good friends in one of their city’s most beautiful locations. Macon and Alexander bring a variety of work-related experiences to the table. Alexander created and executed corporate events for over 25 years., while Macon spent 20 years in banking followed by running his own business and educational administration.
In addition to the feast, Alexander and Macon say they have booked a Grammy award-winning artist to perform during the dinner, and “there will be more surprises as the evening unfolds,” Alexander notes. Once the guests have eaten their meals, “there will be another announcement for the guests to light their sparklers,” Alexander says. “In our case it will be fiber optic wands and everyone twirls them in the air. This will start the party portion of the event. People will dance and have a great time.”
Participants will have the chance to order their gourmet signature dinner in the Le Dîner en Blanc e-store, access will be granted to the e-store after successful registration, or folks can bring bring their own food. Due to City of Palm Springs and Riverside County regulations, guests may not bring their own alcohol. Guests who wish to enjoy some wine or champagne must reserve it online through the e-store. Guests are welcome to bring their own non-alcoholic beverages.
Palm Springs Life chatted further with Alexander and Macon about how Palm Springs was picked and how this will be one of the largest outdoor events in Palm Springs during the pandemic since the Fourth of July celebration at Ruth Hardy Park.
What was the inspiration for the Palm Springs event?
Geoffrey Macon: I visited friends in Sacramento a couple of years ago. We were coming from dinner and I saw these wonderful people dressed in white carrying carts and setting up at a space; it was just incredible. I asked myself, "What is going on?" I stood there for hours watching the event. Everything was so festive and fun. I thought, "We need something like this in Palm Springs. Why aren't we doing this?"
Why was Palm Springs a good location?
Glenn: Palm Springs is a great location as a resort town. It has a great cachet behind the name, Palm Springs. People want to come here as a destination location. We thought this would be an ideal location for this style of event, which is a high-end, sophisticated, really glamorous setting in an outdoor, public space. It seemed like a perfect marriage to have this style of event out here in our beautiful city with the natural surroundings and the mountains.
Did you attend a past event, and how did you become the local hosts?
Glenn: Actually, we are going to our first Le Dîner en Blanc event in a couple of weeks in San Diego. Geoffrey and I did an amazing amount of research on other events to understand what’s the fascination about it. Then we thought how could we enhance that experience when we will bring it to Palm Springs. All the events in the different cities follow the same format, but the hosts in each city are allowed to put their own twist on it. We will follow the format, but we'll bring out the very essence of Palm Springs. This will make Le Dîner en Blanc more exciting for people who've experienced the event in other cities before.
Can you explain the registration process and what does it mean to be on the waiting list?
Glenn: The registration happens in three phases. There's Phase 1. Normally in Phase 1 would be individuals who have attended the event's prior year. This is our first year. Geoffrey and I created a list over the past couple of years of individuals in Palm Springs that have had interest in attending. Those people received an invitation Aug. 23. Those individuals have the first opportunity to register. Phase 1 stays open for approximately a week. Then we move into Phase 2.
Phase 2 are individuals who have been invited by guests on the Phase 1 list. Those individuals would be the second tier of individuals that will receive an invite. There is also a waiting list where everyone who is interested can add their email address.
When Phase 3 opens, everyone else who is on the wait list will be able to register. Folks who just became familiar with this event and want to attend would add their name to the wait list. That would move them immediately into the Phase 3 registration process. There is a potential that the event can sell out in phase one completely, which is why we break it up into three phases.
What suggestions would you have for someone bringing their own food – what’s good to bring, what’s not so good to bring?
Geoffrey: We suggest bringing not too much food. People aren’t going eat a lot because there is entertainment, socializing, and dancing. We recommend, maybe an entrée and a dessert, that’s what we also offer in the e-store.
Glenn: Some folks will bring something as simple as a charcuterie tray and have a glass of wine while they're setting up their tables. Be mindful what you bring because everything needs to be set up and taken down at the end. We suggest that people preset their table at home. If it takes more than five minutes to set up that table, it is probably too much stuff.
Geoffrey: If people bring their own table and chairs, we're informing them that it should be a camping table, not bigger than 30 by 30 inches. That way it will be consistent with all the tables. The chairs need to be white. If the chairs are not white, then they need white covers for those chairs.
What COVID precautions will you have in place for the event? Will you have only vaccinated attendees?
Glenn: People attending our event will have to present their COVID vaccination card to the table leader prior to the event, or at least at the destination point. If they do not have their COVID vaccination card with them, and cannot prove that they have been vaccinated, they will be required to wear a mask. We're also encouraging those that are vaccinated to feel free to wear a mask if that makes them more comfortable.
However, for those that have been vaccinated, and proved it, they do not have to wear a mask on site. We are being very strategic with the table placement, to make sure that we are advising social distancing. We are also setting up sanitation stations throughout the event space and doing other precautions that the guests feel comfortable within the space. We are adhering to the city’s, the county’s, and the state guidelines as changes are happening.
The location where the event will take place is a secret. Can you give us a hint what locations you both have considered, but didn’t make it at the end?
Glenn: Historically, this event should be in a public space. It needs to be in an environment where others, the public, can witness it. Because that belongs to the event, to drum up the excitement, not only from the guests, but from people on the streets. We can share with you that we have looked around at various public spaces throughout the Coachella Valley. We have settled on what we consider to be a wonderful space in Palm Springs.