“Caviar fantasies and champagne dreams”: The imagined community of #DinerEnBlanc in Kingston

And behold: the imagined community of Diner en Blanc arrives in Jamaica…


EmanPark

That’s right…this was Emancipation Park in Kingston Jamaica on Saturday night…

enteringEParkmoet

On Saturday evening some of us began to notice that something white and wondrous our way was coming. It started with an irreverend tweet from Big Black Barry:

Which part di all white dance a kip? Mi buy a white gun mout bootie mi waan buss pon naiga.
a secret. Not even those attending know as yet but dem raid mi things to set up table. & iron out boasy white clothes. DWL, tweeted back @marciaforbes
marciaforbes
Soon our Twitter feeds were inundated with images such as the following along with the hashtag #DinerEnBlanc. The location had been announced; Kingston’s beloved Emancipation Park was being occupied by Jamaica’s One Percent, clad in white and brandishing bottles of wine and hyper-expensive loaves of bread (one lampoons them lovingly because by staging this event they were in effect telegraphing to the world that Jamaica isn’t so crime-ridden that it’s not business as usual–or should we say leisure as usual–when it needs to be):

DWL after the SOS call, I now have a #DinerEnBlanc story http://t.co/f0REgoFXJ8

moetmodel epicureans napkinwaving
Agape, we asked the Google what #DinerEnBlanc was and discovered:

The Dîner en Blanc was started by a man named François Pasquier, who invited a few friends to the Bois de Boulogne one day in June. To find each other in the park, they all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided the next year, each person would invite some other friends and the event grew organically into the 10000+ dinner it is today.

From a preservation perspective, I have always been impressed by the progressive view the Parisian government has on the usage of venerated architecture, permitting large electro parties to happen in the Grand Palais and other formal institutions. The police generally try to break up the Dîner en Blanc (hence the need for secrecy)

At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc’s” secret place. Thousands of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.

From such humble beginnings Diner En Blanc has swelled to become a global event. The concept as described by a Canadian entrepreneur, Jordan Kallman, is :

Over the course of an evening, the diners enhance the function and value of their city’s public space by participating in the unexpected. Beyond the spectacle and refined elegance of the dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse backgrounds by a love of beauty and good taste. Le Dîner en Blanc recalls the elegance and glamour of court society, and diners engage one another knowing they are taking part in a truly magical event. There are no disruptions: no car traffic, no pedestrian traffic, except for the occasional amazed and astonished looks from passersby at the scene unfolding before them. And we, as they, wonder whether it’s all not a dream…

Various goals are articulated: “Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.” “Exaggerated dedication to white clothing is encouraged.”

What’s the actual appeal?

“It’s about co-creation. You have to bring all these items, which means you’re part of making it. And there’s so much creativity. Like people bring wild table centres. Or spend time cooking food that they share with friends and people they’ve just met. It has a joie de vivre feeling.”

 Thus “Who will walk away with the prize for the best dressed table?” was the question at #dinerenblanckgn. A suitable model to emulate was circulated on Facebook:

besttable
Look at the ingenuity from Sandi Spaulding as she prepares for her #DinerEnBlancKgn experience. Will she walk away with the Best Dressed Table @bestdressedja will celebrate those who have made an effort in bringing the most innovative and creative designs.
#wearwhite @dinerenblanckgn #dinerenblanc

As we examined the event’s Facebook page we realized that Kingston’s “first ever refined Epicurean pop up picnic” had been long in the making.

sleekfeelingallwhite
Induction into the world of global pop up picnics employed a series of seductive images and exhortations:
pictureyourself
Picture yourself here! This was a scene from Dîner en Blanc – New York in August last year…a sea of white elegance! The waiting list for the first edition of Diner en Blanc Kingston is now open! Click the link in the About section of our Facebook and stay tuned! #savethedate #wearwhite #dinnerwithfriends

On March 7th Epicureans from all over will gather at a secret location for an event filled with Magic and Surprises #DinerEnBlanc #Kingston.

montage
This simple montage gives you an illustration of a signature Le Diner en Blanc evening… What surprises will the DEB Kingston team have in store for you come March 7th?
Phase 2/3 opens on February 6th…
nativesdancing

Kingston are you ready to experience the Global Phenomenon #DinerEnBlanc?
Phases 2 & 3 will be open on February 5th and persons on the waiting list will recieve their invitations.
Remember the number of places are limited and will be awarded on a first come first serve basis as we have a waiting list of 1600 and growing!

Kingstonians were more than ready as this playful photo demonstrates:

vaswani

And was Diner en Blanc ever ready for them!

whiteonwhite

White on white! Thats the dresscode for #DinerEnBlancKingston No exceptions!

People will stare, Make it worth their while” :: don’t let them down! place your order for our #custom decor-in-a-box designs for @dinerenblanckgn . email info@pussbackfoot.com for details #beautyinabox #decorinabox #dinerenblanc #pussbackfoot #style #stylecaanspoil

The merchant community was well integrated into the dynamics of the event.

Having problems finding something to wear? Feel free to check out our clothing partners: @flirtboutiqueja @kerrymwh @ericasavvy @jasandalco @spokesapparel #Gaychel #Signatures #SoHo #Flirt #Elan #JamaicaSandal&co #StyleSavvy #Sabritru #MaxBrown #BossApparel #SpokesApparel #footcandy

sohokingston

For all you last minute shoppers don’t worry. We have partnered with Jamaica’s finest boutiques to ensure that the most elegant and chic attire will be available for #Dinerenblanckgn

sabrita scotiacard picnicbaskets

Even bougy picnic baskets were flogged at hefty prices.

Leading up to DEB day reminders were rife:

tools

Do you have all your tools for #DinerEnBlancKingston? Remember it’s 4 days away!

whatnottowearwomen

whatnottowear

whatnottowear2

The images above were circulated on Facebook to illustrate finer distinctions of the dress code to Jamaicans along with the following advisory: We have a host of clothing partners for you to choose from therefore there will be no exceptions to the dress code.

On the day itself and the 24 hours preceding it references to the One Percent’s Occupy Kingston moment escalated:

Its T minus 17 hours to #DinerEnBlancKingston. We’re putting the finishing touches on the secret location. Are you ready? Did you pack everything? Is your decor on point? Have you picked up that last item to complete your outfit? Are you bringing good cheer and that rock star party hard lifestyle that defines Kingston? If youve done all that and more. You’re ready to unleash the magic. #wearwhite @dinerenblanckgn #dinerenblanc

observer

getexcited

debscotia

The upmarket picnic had no shortage of sponsors. The imagined community of Diner en Blanc has deep pockets. Organizers of all floundering and struggling cultural ventures in Jamaica please note…money is available depending on how you incorporate your sponsors into your events and how ‘tasteful’ and simultaneously boasy you are…so get to it! See list below–

But…but…is this not a textbook case of conspicuous consumption you ask? literally eating and drinking as conspicuously as possible–or is it something else? You decide. This blog isn’t into glut-shaming. I’ve just filleted the event for you, that’s all. *Waves napkin*

#MoetandChandon
#WinningWines
#ScotiaInvestments
#BestDressedChicken
#Audi
#JamaicaObserver
#AcquaPananna
#SanPellegrino
#PureCountry
#GuardianGeneralInsurance
#MainEvent
#CafeBlue

Author: Annie Paul

writer, editor and avid tweeter anniepaulose@gmail.com

9 thoughts on ““Caviar fantasies and champagne dreams”: The imagined community of #DinerEnBlanc in Kingston”

  1. Thank you for this post. Having this event in the public park was disgraceful. Shows lack of social conscience. Imagine how the poor people who frequent the park felt when looking at this spectacle. To have it thrown in their face how the “uptown” people live and how exclusive they are. Spend your money as you wish but keep in mind the effect it can have on your fellow citizen’s. How did it feel when the people roped off where watching you eat and drink in the public park in a private affluent function. Emancipation Park is a public park where many people of lower economic status use as a refuge. To have this crap thrown in their face is unacceptable. The use of JUTC buses, which is the sole means of transportation for a lot of people could be considered a mockery. Most of those who attended the function have never used public transportation and never will. I am going to assume that a lot of people who attended this function did not understand the social implication.

    1. Thanks Altamont…apparently a lot of people feel the way you do. I hadn’t heard about the use of the JUTC buses. There’s definitely a need for the privileged to be more thoughtful instead of doing their best to ape the pre-revolutionary French artistocracy–let them eat cake–
      The origins of Diner en Blanc are charming and harmless enough but by the time it becomes a global event and reaches the shores of Jamaica it becomes something else…this is what we witnessed a week or two ago…

    1. yes, at one level yes, its the hype and the bumph that went along with it that was obnoxious plus the exercise of privilege–drinking champagne in a no alcohol zone is a little over the top no?

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