Cut Short by Storms, New York’s Diner en Blanc Was a Wet Mess

Diner en Blanc in New York, 2019. Photo credit: Sarah Lapied

Diner en Blah. Diner en Rain. Diner en Bikini Bottom. Yesterday, New York’s largest pop-up dinner party Diner en Blanc was rained out less than halfway through the event.

The all-in-white, pop-up dinner party happens once a year in a surprise location. Just 5,000 to 6,000 people are able to attend; 60,000 guests are left stranded on the waitlist. Guests, who each pay $53 for a ticket, must dress all in white and bring their own table, chairs, food and decorations.

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From the first weather reports on the morning of Diner en Blanc, the forecast wasn’t promising. “New York Weather: Bracing For Dangerous Heat, Damaging Rains” warned a CBS local news headline. “Rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to roll through this afternoon and evening,” recounted the article.

Diner en Blanc is an event that requires a lot of planning, coordination, and work on the part of volunteers, security, the city, and event staff. Because the date cannot be changed on short notice, the dinner is rain or shine.

And rain it did.

The event, this year in Rockefeller Park, began at 7:15 p.m., with tables set up and participants twirling their napkins in the air. At 8:30 p.m. the rain began. Ultimately, because of the presence of lighting and the risk of flooding, participants were told to leave.

Part of what made the mass exodus so impressive (and so newsworthy) was the spectacle that had to be evacuated. Imagine traipsing across a muddy park in sky-high white stilettos, diving into a cab with wire angel wings flailing behind you, crossing the street while a silky cape billows in the wind. Whether or not the partygoers wore something extravagant, all are in white — inarguably the worst color to be wearing when caught in a rainstorm.

Guests also work hard on creating an Insta-worthy table, setting up white, twinkle light-clad trellises, three-tier teacake stands and adding sashing at the base of their table … all of which had to be cleared out in the pouring rain and high winds.

 

As happens when any exclusive event with a price tag that isn’t $0 goes wrong (think Fyre Festival), social media users, some media outlets, and the British tabloids reveled in the chaos.

“White WASHED! High society diners are absolutely drenched in Tropical Storm Barry as New York’s exclusive ‘Diner En Blanc’ descends into chaos as 5,000 guests evacuate carrying their food and tables” headlined the British tabloid Daily Mail. “Storm Turns Diner En Blanc in NYC Into Diner En Blah” wrote NBC New York.

Despite the chaos, attendees appeared amused by the rain. Many took shelter in other covered areas to continue the festivities. No disgruntled guests seem to be posting about refunds for their tickets or re-dos.

Call 2019’s Diner en Blanc what you want, but it was far from Diner en Boring.