By Nick Smith, WCBS 880 Account Executive
I work in advertising, so the word interactive is thrown around quite a bit in my world. Diner En Blanc was probably the most interactive event I have ever participated in — because the guests are the event.
Much has been written over the last several days about Diner en Blanc and how it started in Paris and has grown to dozens of cities worldwide. The flash feast where thousands gather in all white and dine at a secret location has grown in popularity exponentially since last year’s first NYC feast in Battery Park City.
It’s a pop-up picnic where the food, table, chairs and picnic basket are all transported by each guest. The guests do not learn of the secret dinner location until they arrive. Now that photos have been shared and video has hit the Internet, we thought we would share our full Diner en Blanc experience.
Saturday: We find out that we are going to be able to attend the event as media guests (not just any media group can attend). We receive a reservation code and have to register before 11 p.m.
Sunday: Excitement builds as we are scrambling to pull this together by Monday (with work in between). “Do we have anything white?” was a common question amongst Melissa and I. Diner en Blanc is all about dressing nice, dining nice and is an elegant collaboration at an anonymous location. What does that really mean? Tuxedo….china…silverware…not a normal picnic.
We had to split up…how were we going to pull this off? Melissa headed to Homegoods and Lord and Taylor in Westfield, N.J. determined to find our unique place setting (customization is creation at Diner en Blanc). While she took charge of the table, I had to figure out all of the details: when we were going to find out the location, how we were going to leave the office in time, where would the tables come from etc.
Monday: So it’s Monday and we have 30 percent of what we need. I called NYC TUX who were amazing at my last minute all-white Tuxedo rental. I found a tux with a bow tie, very classy, and I ended up being the best dressed. Next I headed to A and S chair rentals in Brooklyn, while Melissa was still at the office. Using a zipcar, I put the tables and chairs in the trunk and drove to my apartment on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. I left the tables and chairs with the door man and set-up a car service to pick us up later.
I kept forgetting about the food! I called Danny at the West Bank Gourmet Deli at 21 West Street and he set-up an amazing last minute dinner for us. I typed up menus and left them with my assistant Arielle, as a nice surprise for Melissa when she left the office.
I packed our picnic basket and picked her up at the office, right on time, and we met at Herald Square where we learned of the secret location.Monday Night: Carrying a basket with two plates, a three course dinner, silverware, wine glasses, glitter, a picture frame for our table, a 30X30 table, tablecloth, napkins and two chairs we headed into the subway where we eventually made it to Lincoln Center.
The setting was beautiful with more than 3,000 guests, wonderful music, wine, champagne and new friends. We enjoyed dinner and walked around looking at the other place settings. As the sun went down, the mood of the crowd went up and a DJ played dance favorites. Without the help of Diane Blackman it would have been impossible to pull off – but we made it. In less than 72 hours we made a night we will never forget and with 3,000 others created Diner en Blanc.