When the first Dîner en Blanc was announced for Vancouver in 2012, many people didn’t know quite what to expect. Everyone must wear white, head to toe? And bring their own tables and chairs, and real china and cutlery to boot? And you don't find out where you’re going till just before the event starts?
Despite (or because of) the quirky rules, the event was a huge success. Over 1,200 diners showed up at the secret location, which turned out to be Jack Poole Plaza at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. When those who didn’t attend got wind of photos like these from the magical evening, they wanted to go, too.
This year's event takes place on Thursday, August 22, at another secret location, which won't be disclosed until just before the dinner.
So how do you sign up? The Diner en Blanc protocol is confusing. You can’t just decide to go and buy a ticket: it’s all about who you know, baby. But even if you know the right people, it’s still complicated. Here’s an attempt to break it down.
Basically, you need an invitation to be able to register for the event. You get an invitation from somebody who is already a member of the Diner en Blanc organization. Everyone who attends an event must become a member for a $5 fee.
This year there will be 2,500 seats at the dinner—1,300 more than last year. But demand for registration still far exceeds supply; according to the event's PR firm, there are currently about 12,000 people on the waitlist.
Registration happens in three phases, according to how connected you are:
Phase 1: Registration started on July 15. Members from previous years and “close friends of the organization” get sent an invitation and have the opportunity to register. Everyone who went last year is automatically invited by email to go again—as long as they behaved themselves last time.
Yes, you can be blacklisted. According to the website’s FAQ, if you register and don’t show because you’re afraid of a little rain or otherwise, you won’t be re-invited. Ditto if you have “transgressed the rules” by wearing non-white clothing, for example. And by the way, if it looks like rain, your raincoat or umbrella has to be white (or transparent) too.
During Phase 1, members can recommend a friend to be sent an invitation for phase two.
Phase 2: Registration starts today (July 22). Individuals recommended by members in Phase 1 will get an email with the opportunity to register.
Phase 3: Registration starts Wednesday (July 24) at noon. This is when people who have signed up for the waitlist get an opportunity to register. The number of spots available depends on how many seats still remain after the previous phases. Emails will be sent out to people in order of their place on the list, which is determined by the date they signed up.
For those offered an invitation to register, the cost is $30 per person if you plan to find your own way to the event, or $35 if you elect for bus transportation to the site.