Imagine getting dressed up in a fabulous white dress to go to an upscale dinner party at a secret location. Now, imagine spending the evening eating in a hallway/tunnel then walking around on dirt. But then imagine sharing this experience with 5,000 friends, old and new. That sums up Le Diner En Blanc DC 2018.
This was my first time ever attending any Le Diner En Blanc event. I was so excited. I anticipated attending for years, yet never got past the waitlist. So here we are, 2018. I received an invitation, and excitedly bought tickets without fully understand what the tickets actually cover. The event is BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything). The “everything” guests need to bring include table, chairs, table linens, white plates, cutlery, decor, food, etc.
The prep is serious. The weeks prior to the event are spent selecting all white attire, all white decor, deciding on a menu, and logistical planning.
Our arrival time was 4:30pm. We arrived at 4:30pm, exited and ready to experience this event of the summer.
My group began walking to our destination around 5:30pm. My group leaders were wonderful. They were organized and gave good directions. Everyone in my 50 person group was happy and bubbling with anticipation of a lovely evening. We were 3 blocks away from Washington Nationals Ballpark. This is where the trouble began. As my group walked up to the park, the police kept telling us to move out of the street. People who were parked at the Ballpark tried to drive through the crowds to leave. It was really hot, as the sun beamed down on us. We all had carts and baskets, and dollies, and just a lot of everything needed for our Le Diner En Blanc experience. We waited for over an hour just outside the ballpark, waiting to enter.
All 5,000 guests had to go through the security check ONE AT A TIME. Security went through our bags and made us partially unpack our carts. Once inside, we were ushered to the dark concourse where we were instructed to set up. I guess I am lucky, since I had a view facing the field. Those who sat across the table were facing the restrooms and the walls.
There were 2 rows of tables around the concourses. We could only see a few tables in either direction, since the ballpark is curved. This was far from what I expected. It felt as though we were isolated. I almost missed the waving of the napkins, due to the awkward layout at the ballpark.
The band was dressed in white and played on the field. The band was so far away, I could not decipher what they were playing, I just heard muffled sounds.
After the band left, the DJ set up and people started filling the baselines. Well, only 500 people that is. They only let 500 people at a time (out of a total 5,000) on the field at once. If you dared step on the grass, you were ejected from the park. I saw a lady get ejected for dancing on the grass. I saw another guy get tackled by three employees because he ran down the steps, onto the field and stepped on the grass. It was a sight to see.
There were no real sparklers this year. There were some battery operated sparklers. Nice, but not the same as actual sparklers.
We were allowed to walk around the outskirts of the field. Yes, all of these people dressed in their best white, were walking along the dirt path of the ballpark. We were not allowed on the grass, remember.
I was highly disappointed in my first Le Diner En Blanc experience. I was hoping for an outdoor location where we could see everyone. What’s more, Saturday night was an absolute perfect night as far as the weather is concerned. It was hot, but not humid. There was a nice gentle breeze at times. I could not have wished for better weather.
There were some good parts of the evening. I loved my outfit, and the way it blowed in the wind. The highlight for me was socializing with other guests and viewing their extravagant decor. Plus, I always have fun whenever I am with my cousin and friends. We shared lots of laughs and made memories at the National Ballpark. The Nationals Mascots were available for pictures. We also had access to the dugouts. There was a popular photobooth set up in one of the dugouts. The DJ was good, and played a great selection of music. It was cool to dance around the bases, while waving sparklers. The sparklers actually make really cool souvenirs.
In general, it was really neat to attend a private event at Nationals Ballpark where guests could go into the dugout, walk around the bases (if you were in a lucky group of 500). I just think this was the wrong venue for Le Diner En Blanc DC. I heard lots of people complaining that the venue was much too “casual” for the Le Diner en Blanc DC. Plus, who wears all white to a baseball park?
Despite all of the surpises of the evening, I learned one important lesson about Le Diner en Blanc. The people are what make Le Diner en Blanc special. throughout the evening, most guests remained in good spirits. We had fun despire the wait times, despite the limited field access. Despite it all, everyone seemed to have a good time. The joy of attending Le Diner en Blanc is the joy felt just being around everyone else. We all looked fabulous in our all white attire. Even though the ballpark had red dirt in all directions, everyone’s white remained white. Even my dress stayed white. It was quite a remarkable site to see. Just as out outfits remained clean, so did our desire to enjoy the evening. And enjoy the evening we did. I look forward to next year, where hopefully Le Diner en Blanc DC will return to an outdoor venue. I will admit, Le Diner en Blanc DC 2018 was definitely an adventure!