This past Monday night, I had the joy of participating in New York's fourth annual Dîner en Blanc, an elegant picnic of about 5000 New Yorkers dressed in white. I was asked by a good friend from The Brooklyn Symphony to play viola in a quartet to a few songs at the event.
I didn't know much about Le Dîner en Blanc before actually attending. It started in Paris in 1988 and has since spread to other cities. People dressed in white as a way to recognize the people who were meeting each other. (Obviously now given the size of the event we have to come up with other ways to identify our friends!) The location is a secret until attendees actually arrive there. Everyone is dressed in white clothing, and everyone brings their own table, white table linens, china, chairs, and glassware. Groups gather at different assigned meeting points around the city, and are led to the secret location by a group leader.
Luckily for me and my broken foot, the meeting place that I was assigned to was only a short distance from the actual picnic destination. Past locations have been Bryant Park and Lincoln Center. This year, the group was led to Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. The space had a lovely view of the water.
Once we arrived, everyone quickly set up their tables and chairs, complete with decorations, some with candles, elaborate centerpieces, etc. It was neat to see how creative people were able to be within the guidelines of the event. There were performances by opera singers, DJs, and an electric violinist.
The meal kicks off with an announcement and everyone waves their napkins in the air. At that time, my friend Abigail and I ran (well, more like hobbled) over to my other friends and we set up the quartet. Our group played a few waltzes and other tunes while people started their meals. Abigail took some lovely pictures, and you can also scroll through this link to the Gothamist article about the event, and you'll see a photo of us there, too.
After we played, we went back to our tables and ate. The picnic turned into a dance party as the lights went down, and it was fun to see all the glowing headpieces and other things people were wearing.
I also wanted to give a special shout-out to Suzanna over at Stems Flower Shop for the gorgeous flower crown. Her arrangements are always so unique and beautiful. I felt like a viola-playing elf princess and loved it. I wish I could wear one every day!
This was a lot of fun - you never know quite where playing an instrument will take you! I'm looking forward to next year, and already planning my outfit!