White Nights

The tradition of Diner en Blanc lights up in Richmond.

They came by the hundreds, bedecked in white dresses, white suits, white shoes, white masks, white headdresses and even feathered white eyelashes. They were loaded down with picnic hampers, coolers, folding tables and chairs. They unfurled white tablecloths .. And thus began Richmond’s first Diner en Blanc, a global sensation that began 30 years ago in Paris.

From Bucharest to Vancouver, on different summer nights, cities around the globe host what is essentially a public flash mob, only with fine dining in place of dancing: A thousand people, dressed entirely in white finery, meet at various pickup points in the city and are bussed in groups to a secret location for a mass picnic. It’s always outdoors, always public, and always requires a waiting list to get in.

Richmond’s Diner en Blanc was organized by VCU professor and Afrikana Film Festival creative director Enjoli Moon; Mise en Place owner and chef Christine Wansleben; and owner of Gratitude Rising Events, Ayana Obika. Guests register in advance at $44 each, which covers transportation, space rental, music and other entertainment.

On Saturday, August 5, Richmond attendees arrived at the previously-undisclosed location and paraded behind a trumpet player, walking from the DMV to the Science Museum’s picturesque railroad park. They entered through a balloon archway flanked by white-clad dancers from Boom Boom Basics Burlesque Studio. There, diners set up their tables in long communal rows, decorating them with flowers, glittery lights and, for the ambitious – arches, parasols, chandeliers and even live fish.

Once the tables were set, event emcee and radio host Kelli Lemon led the diners in the traditional waving of the napkins to officially begin. Diners unpacked their picnics or picked up dinners pre-ordered from several catering companies that delivered to the site. The summer night unfolded to the tempting lilt of musical group Ban Caribe’s steel drums and as dusk fell, organizers passed oversized sparklers among the tables. Attendees lit the fireworks, as sommelier and Richmond ambassador Jason Tesauro sabered open a bottle of champagne to loud cheers. A DJ took the stage, with dancing led by white-clad gymnasts twirling glowing hula hoops.


Diner en Blanc events will be held again next summer. Plus, don’t miss this year’s Washington, D.C. event on Aug. 26. Visit Washington.DinerEnBlanc.com for more details.


Pop-Up Food Events Around the Commonwealth

Blue Tape, Virginia Beach, Facebook.com/BlueTapeVa
Longoven, Richmond, LongovenRVA.com
Scratch Biscuit, Roanoke, ScratchBiscuit.com
Underground Kitchen, Charlottesville, NoVa and Richmond, TheUndergroundKitchen.org
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Events

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum