Nearly 4,000 people clad all in white descended on Bryant Park last night for the third NYC installation of Diner En Blanc. Like an elegantly dressed band of refugees, diners carted in tables, chairs and baskets of food to set up a giant communal dinner party on the lawn of the park, filling the entire space.
Though picnicking en mass in Bryant Park isn't a novel concept, co-organizer Gilles Amsallem insists the iconic park provided the perfect locale for this year's event. "I think Bryant Park was grandiose. I mean it's one of the symbols, all the biggest events, all the most beautiful happenings here," Amsallem explained. "The logistics, because it's all surrounded by buildings, is the most difficult part."
Guests seemed thrilled with the event and it was clear that many had put significant time and money into making the experience one to remember. Diana Chen and Elein Tse—who'd been accepted off the wait list just a week before the event—had to scramble to buy all the necessary white clothing, tables, chairs and other accoutrement but both said it was "totally worth it." "When we walked in we almost wanted to cry," Tse admitted. "It's overwhelmingly beautiful."
For the first few hours, the mood was mellow, with diners eating, drinking and snapping dozens of photos of themselves. Around 8:30, a DJ started cranking out a mix of contemporary hits—can "Blurred Lines" season be over please?—and some older pop songs that got the crowd on its feet. Attendees abandoned their dinners to form a giant dance party that took over the patio space behind the New York Public Library.
Looking ahead to next year, Amsallem envisions expanding the event to include more people. "We have such a demand—we had 14,000 people on the waiting list!—so yes, we are building to 5,000 or 6,000," he revealed. "We're trying not to grow too fast either, finding a venue is not easy. But we'll see what's going on for next year." Space might be limited in Manhattan, but we hear some cool things are going on in that place the kids call Brooklyn.