Dîner en Blanc is a secret dinner where people flash-gather and set up a chic but temporary dining area in the middle of a city. The invitation and the process remains hidden. Philippe Charlier recently met with its French organizer and had a short talk. The organizer wishes to remain anonymous.
P.C. Hello! It’s a pleasure to meet you … but let’s begin. Since how long have you been involved in Dîner en Blanc?
C.K. I started the White Dinner in 2004, so 13 years now.
P.C. And what is your position in this organization?
C.K. I am the supervisor.
P.C. So, you’re organizing everything, including the place, the exact position of everybody?
C.K. Yes, indeed.
P.C. Okay. What is the philosophy of Dîner en Blanc?
C.K. Um, White Dinner is actually something for people to enjoy themselves in a beautiful place in Paris. It’s … cool.
P.C. (laughs) Yes, of course, but is it a consecration of the French philosophy of well-being, being in love with good wines, nice food, everything, and why this choice of the white colour?
C.K. So, at the beginning, it started nearly 30 years ago. The fact is that in Paris, you are allowed to organize picnics but you’re not allowed to organize dinners. So, they decided to organize a large picnic. It has to come together at the last 10 minutes, and nobody knows before where’s it’s going to be held. The wearing of white is because when it started 30 years ago – I wasn’t born, ha! – it was at Jardin Bagatelle and people decided to meet and as nobody knew each other, they decided to wear white so it would be easy to recognize each other. So, that’s how the tradition started and we keep on doing it. When I started in 2004, we were 1400 and it’s been growing ever since.
P.C. So the colour white has nothing to do with purity?
C.K. No. Nothing.
P.C. What are the criteria for you when choosing the place of Dîner en Blanc?
C.K. It has to be one of the beautiful sites in Paris, and very emblematic and it has to be large enough to hold the number of guests.
P.C. And you already have ideas for the next few years?
C.K. We’re thinking about it.
P.C. There’s one last question. In the memory of a Sufi patient, could you please define life in two words?
C.K. Happiness … and dream.