Last night's mild weather and beautiful sunset made for two very different takes on a simple idea: a summer picnic.
The starting price for tickets to Dîner En Blanc was $45. The cost of Ce Soir Noir: Free with a non-perishable food donation to Backpack Buddies, a program set up by Community First Foundation in East Vancouver.
The paler of the two was held at Canada Place, which is home to the Vancouver Convention Centre and the Pan Pacific Hotel, and is also an internationally recognized symbol of our city. Those who preferred to dress head-to-toe in black gathered at Crab Park, a hidden gem known more for its proximity to the Downtown Eastside (not a bad thing) than its incredible view of the cityscape and North Shore mountains.
Dîner En Blanc's 4,500-person guest list was exclusive: If you didn't have an invite from last year's soiree, you were probably S.O.L unless you 'knew someone'. Ce Soir Noir's casual Facebook invite was open to anyone and everyone, and despite the event's name, no one was about to turn you away if you weren't wearing the right colour.
Guests at Canada Place had the option to order a catered dinner courtesy culinary hotspot Hawksworth, and were required to bring patio furniture, which had its own specific set of criteria. Crab Park goers brought cans of Pringles, take-out pizza, and sat on blankets.
A pop-up wedding, living art installations, and multiple musical acts were part of the entertainment lineup at Dîner En Blanc, while the minds behind Ce Soir Noir composed a piece of music for the event and shared it over social media. Attendees played it simultaneously at 8 p.m. while two soap bubble artists entertained children and adults alike—there wasn't a child in sight at Canada Place.
All of this aside, the goal at both events was simple: Enjoy an outdoor meal in the company of others. Huff and puff about either event all you want, but in observing both crowds, everyone seemed to be having a great time. Part of Vancouver's charm is its diversity. A tongue-in-cheek response to what some might call an over-the-top event is in our city's nature, but so is an all-white affair modeled after a Parisian tradition.
Check out the video below and decide for yourself who had more fun, or simply chalk it all up to the age-old cliché: Different strokes for different folks.