Commuters on the Metro Thursday night might have been less than enamored with hundreds of white-clad Dîner en Blanc attendees toting tables, chairs and other picnic supplies, but those who participated in the first-ever D.C. event didn’t let that spoil their evening.
The event, which brings thousands of diners together for a one-night festival of al fresco dining in cities around the world each year, took over Yards Park in D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood Thursday. This quarter century-old dinner-as-art tradition began in Paris.
The more than 1,200 guests who bought tickets didn’t know the event’s location until an hour before its official start time, at which point they received an email with their rendezvous point throughout the city. From there, they made the trek to Yards Park.
It wasn’t the first site choice for the event, which is usually held at an iconic location within a city, a rep confirmed, but the sale of alcohol precluded many of the traditional federal event sites. Yards Park is owned by Yards developer Forest City Washington.
But despite Metro crowding — and an unfortunate shutdown of escalators at the Navy Yard Metro stop during the group’s arrival — attendees were generally in good spirits throughout the night.
“Here’s to getting caught on the Metro,” one guest toasted to his friends and dozens of surrounding diners. “Here’s to Dîner en Blanc!”
One attendee, Ieesha Johnson, had been waiting for two years for the event to come to D.C. after seeing “Top Chef” contestants cook for one of the Dîner en Blancs. She ended up serving as a table captain, helping others find their designated spots.
“It was kind of a little iffy, you had to do a lot of research,” she said. “But those that had done it before were great, they told me where to get tables, and I rented chairs. It wasn’t too bad if you were organized.”
And organized people were. It wasn’t enough to throw a white tablecloth over a camping table; many settings included lighted centerpieces, fresh flowers, matching chargers under dinner plates, and much more.
“I actually bought four outfits, not knowing which one I was going to end up going with,” said Carrie Schenkel Reasonover.
As night fell, the sparklers were lit, signaling the switch from more refined live jazz to club tunes from the early 2000s — think Eiffel 65’s ”Blue (Da Ba Dee).” That’s when yours truly bowed out, so you’ll have to check the #DEBDC14 social media tag for how the rest of the night — including an after-party at the Marriott Marquis Washington D.C. — panned out.