I’ve never noticed the massive amount of opinions that follow Dîner en Blanc and I intentionally waited for the knee jerk reactions to settle before offering my thoughts.
This year I was a table leader and experienced Dîner en Blanc PHL with a different view. I was one of the volunteers that received complaints. I was one of the volunteers organizing complete strangers to “have fun”. What I learned the most this year, is that Dîner en Blanc isn’t for everyone.
Who Should Attend
There is a certain crowd that probably should attend Dîner en Blanc and if it is not you, then that's ok. I found that the people who enjoy it the most:
Enjoy being around people
Love being in a party environment
Welcome a diverse environment
Enjoy a different kind of party
Understand that things don't always go as planned and try to make the best of it.
As much as possible I recommended my table for couples. This definitely adds a different dynamic. It is like group date night. Sometimes you just need to be around other people figuring out this institution called marriage. When your entire table, or even sections of it, can vibe it just makes for a better experience.
Why You Should Attend
The best part of Dîner en Blanc is the sense of community and the magic of just being in attendance. I have seen lots of comments where people call it an elitist event but I beg to differ. “An elite is a relatively small group of people with the highest status in a society, or in some domain of activity, who have more privileges or power than other people due to their status. Elitism is believing in or promoting this sort of arrangement, whether that be in the academic world, politics, art, sports, or anywhere else.” When I looked around the event, I saw people from all walks of life and none of it screamed elite. This major event continues to add diversity each year as the amount of attendees grow. In fact, it is the largest diverse event happening in the city of Philadelphia. This event promotes a community feel that is fun and exciting.
People seem to interpret the lack of availability as exclusivity, but the city always places geographical limitations on the event. This does not leave many places to choose from and will result in fewer guests being invited. Unfortunately this year, it caused lots of complaints and unhappy attendees. Something this massive with so many unknown variables is bound to have difficulties but as a team they work to minimize them.
It is easy to hate Diner en Blanc. But it’s easy to love it, too.
I want to say thank you to the organizers, our group lead and the other table leaders in our group. We had a ball!
Are You an Elitist?
A non-Dîner en Blanc attendee noted the fact that someone buys tickets “then spends additional money to bring their own food, seating, tables and decor, and then proceeds to sit in public spaces likely yards away from unhoused people makes it by definition an elitist event as the funds used could provide weeks worth of food and hygiene products”. There is a significant undertone here filled with a lot of assumptions. It is absolutely correct that I can give away my possessions to underserved persons. Or I can pretend we live in an ant colony and are all working toward one goal. It is always troubling when we make broad generalizations about how people enjoy the fruits of their labor. Having a mobile phone could be seen as extravagant to someone in need. It is not assumed that we should turn off phones, the cell towers or any form of communication in order to provide funds to anyone underserved.
What is it about events that make people feel attacked because of what someone else is doing. Why do we seek to judge how someone seeks to enjoy the life they live? Why do we assume that persons don't enjoy life and give back? What we must stop doing is trying to force everyone into our own beliefs. If they are enjoying something, not hurting anyone, and not stopping anyone else’s pursuit of happiness why must they be attacked. Helping people and having an enjoyable time is not mutually exclusive.
Dîner en Blanc is not a profit machine. The funds You are just adding your contribution to the summer party of the year. Like anything else, you have a choice. If I could offer a word of advice. Life is too short to do something you don’t want to do, or something you know you will complain about. Philly is a vibrant city, just find something else to do. But please do not think a crew of volunteers can bend at will to your specific requirements to have fun. If you don’t like it just don’t go, so that someone else meeting before-mentioned criteria can take your spot and enjoy themselves.