Event Recap: Dîner en Blanc Hampton Roads
Who knew a picnic party could have so much style? Dîner en Blanc is a worldwide celebrated pop-up picnic party where you leave your plastic cutlery and plaid blankets behind and bring on the all-white attire and fine dinnerware! What began in Paris among a few friends more than 27 years ago has now grown into a gathering of thousands. It was time for Hampton Roads to be in the spotlight.
Once you register for the event, the only location you know is where you’re parking your car. You’re then shuttled with your table members to a secret destination.
Though it was a bit of a scavenger hunt for some, we managed to find all of the required items: one white folding table, two white folding chairs, a white table cloth, two white cloth napkins, glassware, dinnerware, flatware and of course a gourmet meal.
We hopped on our shuttle outside of MacArthur Center. Excitement was brewing as passengers tried to guess the location. Over a bridge and through a tunnel, we were getting closer. We exited the highway and entered Newport News before reaching the final destination: a blank, lush greenery of Mariners’ Museum and Park located across from Warwick High School.
Once we stepped into the park, we had about 20 minutes to set up our tables before the infamous handkerchief wave. Couples revealed centerpieces that looked like they belonged in The Great Gatsby; there were pearls, feathers, lights, fine flatware and white and pink flower arrangements adorning the tables. Over 600 guests helped transform the field into an elegant dinner party.
Around 7 o'clock we were cued to wave our handkerchiefs.
Dinner had commenced. The husband and I carved away at our truffle gouda cheese and olives while a lovely violinist and jazz band played.
There was even a wedding, which was a surprise to their family attending. The bride’s elaborate white dress of course wouldn’t give away her surprise. That whole rule about not wearing white to a wedding was of course excused.
As the moon ascended, colored lights lit up the party and Astro DJs played everything from old favorites to the Cupid Shuffle.
For me, Dîner en Blanc was more than just everyone decked out in their pearliest of whites; it was about the people that made the experience. I happened to rub shoulders with Kisha, the sweet owner of Hummingbird Macarons in Norfolk. She brought a dozen or so of her macarons and graciously lended them to the table. The roseberry one was, in short, I-must-be-dreaming good. Another table member walked around sharing his homemade tiramisu, and others passed their appetizers down the community table.
Around 10 p.m. the grand picnic had come to a close. After folding up our tables and packing up our picnics, we boarded the shuttle feeling like we made a few hundred new friends. Suddenly Hampton Roads didn’t feel so small.