Perfect your croissant and baguette recipes and order your escargot and pate because Atlantic City will host its first Diner en Blanc event in June.
“My dream has become a reality,” Mayor Marty Small announced at a press conference Monday. “Atlantic City deserves this because we are an entertainment mecca.”
For those not in the know, Diner en Blanc is an international phenomenon founded in Paris in 1988 in which people – all dressed in white — share a meal in a public place celebrating the beauty of the setting while listening to great music, sharing food and making new friends.
But here’s the kicker: Everyone has to bring their own table, chairs and picnic lunch – or dinner. The organizers provide the setting, music, artists, décor and more. And get this: Diners do not know where the event will happen until they are informed on the day of Diner en Blanc. It is rumored, however, that the boardwalk will be the location, which makes the most sense.
The event is expected to draw 3,000 people and is being organized in conjunction with the city, Showboat Owner Bart Blatstein and a group led by Kayli Moran and Natanya DiBona that held a similar event last year in Philadelphia which drew about 5,000 people.
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Locally, Somers Point has held a smaller version of the event, but this will be one in of a much larger magnitude.
“About a year ago, these lovely ladies (from Diner en Blanc) approached me as the president of Rittenhouse Square to help them bring Diner en Blanc to Philadelphia,” Blatstein announced. “I said, ‘That’s a wonderful idea!’ So we had 5,000 people, everyone dressed in white. And it was remarkable, especially since of COVID.”
Blatstein then brought up the idea to the organizers of having the event in Atlantic City, and they began the process.
“I went to the mayor, and he said, ‘There is nothing this city can’t do,’” Blatstein said. “The international (Diner en Blanc) approved the event, and here we are.”
“Bart said, ‘What do you think about Diner en Blanc,’ and I went bonkers,” Small said.
Details are sketchy, including a definitive date. However, those interested in Diner en Blanc can sign up now at AtlanticCity.DinerEnBlanc.com.
The first 500 to register will be invited to participate in Phase 1. The number of phases will depend on the number of people who ultimately sign up. Tickets are $55 and must be purchased in pairs. For those who do not want to bring their own meal, a caterer will be announced in the future that will provide culinary options. It will be a rain or shine event.
Diner en Blanc was founded by Francois Pasquier and a handful of friends. Since then, it has become a worldwide epicurean phenomenon and has been celebrated in more than 120 cities in 40 countries. For its 30th anniversary in 2018, 17,000 guests from Paris and around the world gathered at the Esplanade des Invalides to celebrate.
The Atlantic City event will feature live music – usually of the jazz variety – before evolving into a nightlife scene with a DJ as the event progresses into the evening. Because of the new open-container law that allows alcoholic beverages to be consumed in public outdoors in the city’s Tourism District, Diner en Blanc attendees will also be able to bring their own alcohol to enjoy with their meal.
“We are not just about casinos,” Small said. “This is something the city needs.”