Chicago's First Diner en Blanc.

Chicago's First Diner en Blanc.


Chicago, Monday, August 29, 2011.  If you passed by Daley Plaza last Saturday evening and were wondering what all the people dressed in white were doing, you just witnessed the first pop-up picnic in the windy city with 1,000 people clad in all-white garb.

Dîner en Blanc “White Dinner” is often described as a “refined foodie flash mob”.  Attendees met at Harmonization Points throughout the city, and at 7:00pm the secret location was revealed. Guests converged on Daley Plaza with the evening’s equipment in tow: their own tables, tablecloth, white chairs, white china, white napkins, silverware and glasses, plus food. Some guests enjoyed a simple meal purchased at a gourmet counter, while others constructed elaborate tables with creative centerpieces, menu cards, and multiple courses.

A strolling accordionist lent a distinctly Parisian feel, while guests engaged in the Chicago tradition of sliding down the Picasso. As the evening continued, party-goers enthusiastically danced to the sounds of a jazz trio. “The mood was elegant, yet whimsical,” said co-founder Jennifer Dunham Luby, Editor-in-Chief of “This was by no means a stuffy event.”

Dîner en Blanc began as a small gathering of friends 20 years ago in Paris and has since blossomed into a worldwide phenomenon. While other cities limit the guest list to friends of organizers, the Chicago Dîner was more egalitarian. “The overwhelming majority of attendees came from the general public. We wanted this to be an event open to the people of Chicago, rather than an elite minority,” said co-founder and Director of Strategic Accounts at 360i LLC Kelly McCoy Williams.

Ticket sales opened on August 1st with an initial offering of 500 places, which sold out in a minute and a half. According to co-founder and Director of Training and Development at Metroplex, Inc Nicole Lockett, “we knew this would get a lot of attention, but we weren’t expecting 2,000 hits per minute on our web site. It was unprecedented.” Over the next few weeks, tickets were released to waitlisted guests.

If you missed it this year, founder James Borkman promises to be back next year.

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