Dîner en Blanc Paris – 2017

I’m lucky and I know it.

I have to start there because I am fully aware that this particular night, in this particular city, draws a lot of ‘but how did you get invited?’ questions and comments. It seems part and parcel with the whole affair and trust me, I’d LOVE to bring everyone I know with me, but it just doesn’t work like that.

What am I referring to? Dîner en Blanc (White Dinner) in Paris.

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Cheers from Passerelle Debilly. Dîner en Blanc Paris, 2014.

I think it is important to tell my story on how I came to be invited to Dîner en Blanc in the first place.

Back in 2006, when I was still new to life in Paris, my new husband and I were out for an after dinner stroll through the streets of our arrondissement/neighbourhood. It was on this night that we stumbled across a large gathering of people dress immaculately, in all white, dining on prime rib, pastas, beautiful French confections, all the while sipping champagne from china flutes.

“What on earth was that?” I asked of my husband and he replied, “ah, that is the secret pop-up dinner called Dîner en Blanc. You have to be part of the who’s who of Paris to be invited.”

That crushed me. Couldn’t they just TELL I would bring the fun by merely inviting me? I spent the next few years in search of an invite or a connection to someone invited.

No. Such. Luck.

Fast forward to 2011, I had a client who was invited. I was excited for her but she flippantly said to me “I have to do this white thing tonight…how ghastly!” I wanted to scream I WILL GO IN YOUR PLACE but I held my cool. How was it she ended up being invited in her first year living in Paris when I had been trying for YEARS?!

So, I gave up. I really did. It wasn’t going to happen and I was just going to be jealous once a year of everyone having this magical night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It hurt to give up but I surrendered to acknowledging I wasn’t one of the ‘who’s who’ of Paris.

Then, almost as soon as I gave up, I received a random email from someone I had worked with as a marathon training coach. We had a long history of random encounters, from running Santa Claus races in costume together to laughing about mutual friends at a pub night for something entirely different, so random was not new to our relationship. He asked me in a very convoluted manner if I was “in or out” for something happening in June 2013.

WHAT?

Yes of course I was in (I always dive head first).

I asked what it was and he laughed, “I will explain later but you are on the list!”

OMG I’m on a LIST! I did not care what list it was, it was all so secretive and exciting! My husband was more practical asking “what if you signed up to run a marathon you don’t know about??” I wouldn’t listen to him (or pretended not to panic would be more accurate).

Then the invite came. We were cordially invited to Dîner en Blanc 2013 – location and time TBA.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Since that fateful email, we have attend 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and now 2017. The evening never disappoints, no matter how much work it is to bring your dinner, table and chairs with you through Paris.

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Place Vendôme, Dîner en Blanc Paris, 2016

I believe part of the magic is still in the details, or lack therefore of. People have all kinds questions about it and I refuse to answer many but I will tell you this:

  1. It is true that the date and location are kept COMPLETELY SECRET to diners. We find out the date a few weeks before and the location only once our designated team leaders have taken us there. We meet first at another location and come together at the last minute to set up, sit down and pop some champagne
  2. In regards to how we coordinate everything if it is all so secretive, we receive a list entailing the exact size and shape of chairs/tables and what is expected of us as diners
  3. We are in charge of our space: that means we must bring our own garbage bags and help clean up after. We leave the location as we found it.
  4. The date changes yearly
  5. The Paris event is ‘almost’ free of charge (change in your wallet could cover your fees) but I have heard that other cities charge quite a hefty fee (could just be rumours…)
  6. It is absolutely as much fun as it looks
  7. We do not automatically receive invite benefits to pass along to other friends, family members, etc (I’m sorry!!!)

So, with that in mind, I leave you with some photos from this year’s event. If you ever find yourself receiving a strange email asking “are you in or out”, I implore you to find your wild side and see what might entail.

For me, this is always a highlight event of the year and I will never take that for granted!

See you in 2018 (date and location to be determined, of course!)

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hart

What’s so wrong with a bit of LOVE?

This morning I had to take baby girl (OK she’s 6 but she’s still my baby) to get her latest round of vaccinations. As I waited for her to come out of her class, I opened Facebook to take a peek at what was going on around the world. I clearly saw two very distinct types of posts today:

1 – families, lovers and friends declaring their love and wishing people a Happy Valentine’s Day

2 – angry smug or mocking posts around the lines of ‘I don’t need someone to make me feel good about myself’ about Valentine’s Day

This left me wondering, ‘are these are only options on the 14th of February every year?’

I get it. Valentine’s Day seems cheesy and commercial. I’ve been single, heartbroken, newly loved up, engaged, married, and everything in between over the years of this day passing. I’ve had my own ‘only idiots think it is cool to celebrate Valentine’s Day’ thoughts, too. Trust me, I’m not an easy convert to this ‘holiday’.

But something changed in me the last few years. I think LOVE, in all of its forms, deserves more notice than we give it and I no longer find it cheesy to do it once a year, I find it sad we need a reminder!! We’ve somehow forgotten that all love is important to discuss and celebrate. We’ve forgotten to take notice of love and let me tell you, it matters.

Love matters more than hate.

Let me repeat that. Love matters more than hate.

So why don’t we give it the attention it deserves? Why do we make fun of people that choose to use February 14th as an excuse to pause for a moment and say ‘oh yeah, I should spend some time with you focusing on our love’?

In our world right now we are inundated with constant reminders of hate. Hateful elections. Distrust of politicians. Fear-based public votes. Fearfulness of immigrants and refugees. All kinds of HATE and fear around the world are winning the global discourse battle.

We will never beat hate with more hate.

So love each other. You don’t need a husband or wife or partner and a white picket fence to tell someone you love them on Valentine’s Day. You need sincere and honest emotions. You can send a Valentine to a best friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Call your mum and wish her a happy day and tell her you love her. Hug your children and tell them how important love is in the world. Love shouldn’t be ridiculed in whatever form it takes. We have let cynicism and the fear of looking cheesy dictate how we act for far too long.

I’m writing this today, the day AFTER Valentine’s Day but I’m going to remind all of you early February next year to remember this. Love matters more than hate.

It always will.

 

Photo credit: Fotolia