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How to Get Into Diner en Blanc

It’s year six for the divisive dinner party

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia 2016
Emcee Studio

The wait list is open for Diner en Blanc, the exclusive outdoor dinner party that pops up every August in a public location kept secret until just before the event begins. Last year, more than 30,000 people vied for 5,000 seats — way up from the 1,300 white-clad guests who went to Philly’s first Diner en Blanc six years ago. The number of invites available for the 2017 event, plus details on registering for the invite lottery, will be revealed at a preview party at Headhouse Square on Tuesday, June 6, from 5-7 p.m. The date of Diner en Blanc will also be announced, but so far it’s always been the third Thursday in August.

The preview party, limited to those 21 and up, is free to attend but an RSVP is required. If you’ve been to Diner en Blanc before, you can skip the wait list, which is the first step in signing up for the lottery, and expect to be notified when registration opens.

If you’re not familiar, Diner en Blanc is based off an annual Parisian fete started in 1988. It’s now overseen by Montreal-based Diner en Blanc International and coordinated by local hosts and volunteers in each city. The Philly version is the second largest in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world, according to the organizers — and the most divisive. Every year people take to social media to decry the exclusivity and cost of the event, some arguing (without basis for the view) that it should be raising money for charity.

Guests who’ve scored the coveted invites still have to buy tickets, which get them entry only: They bring their own tables, chairs, décor, food, and drink. Everything must be white, including their clothing. Admission is $98 for two people. Single tickets are not sold.

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia 2014
Johanna Austin

On the night of, groups in all white, carrying furniture, post up at holding locations until a notification goes out informing them where to go. Reaching the final destination might include a subway ride. At the party site, group leaders guide guests through setting up tables and chairs in a tightly choreographed performance, until thousands of strangers dressed in white are seated in long white rows, waving white dinner napkins to signal the start of the meal. Diner en Blanc might have been born before social media was invented, but if there ever was a made-for-Instagram event, this is it.

Last year Diner en Blanc was in front of the Art Museum. Previously, it popped up in Logan Circle, on the JFK Bridge, on the Avenue of the Arts, and at the Navy Yard. Any guess as to where Diner en Blanc 2017 will take place?