With a golden sunset rippling over Jack Poole Plaza and traditional French music delighting a spellbound crowd, international flashmob phenomenon Dîner en Blanc made its graceful Vancouver debut Thursday night.
By 7 p.m., the stunning location that had been kept top secret by organizers for a year-and-a-half was revealed. Champagne corks popped, and up with them a sophisticated picnic of epic proportions.
The lucky 1,200 who managed to snag tickets for the Paris-inspired soirée — 4,000 were left on the waitlist — brought everything with them and were dressed to the nines. Glass stemware clinked, wicker picnic baskets were unpacked onto fresh linen tablecloths, and there were more lace, pearls and fascinators than you could shake a baguette at.
“The location is absolutely perfect,” said Justin Glen, 40, who came with his 27-year-old girlfriend, Danielle Nelson.
“We didn’t even think about it being down here, but once you get down here with the backdrop of the planes flying out and the torch — they said online that you would be able to tell it was Vancouver from all over the place, and I thought, ‘Well, where would that be?’ Obviously I wasn’t thinking very hard. Right here.”
Guests had the option of bringing in their own meals or buying a gourmet dinner prepared by Canada’s Top Chef Dale MacKay.
Nelson and Glen packed in meats, cheeses, salad and olives, and bought two bottles of wine. Nelson, who heard about the event on Twitter, said she was inspired by guests’ commitment.
“I like that everybody’s dressed up and people are bringing, like, they have a candelabra sitting on their table,” she said, pointing to one of many decked-out settings nearby. “It’s neat. People are going pretty crazy and it’s fun that everybody can get together and not know each other and still manage to all follow the rules and stick to the same idea.”
Organizer Tyson Villeneuve was beaming from ear to ear as the enchanted scene unfolded.
“I honestly couldn’t have imagined it going any more smoothly, any better,” he said. “It’s a beautiful crowd, the skies opened up this morning, it’s beautiful weather. It’s Vancouver at its best.”
At 9:30 p.m. sparklers were lit and the tipsy crowd was given the signal it was OK to get up and dance.
Next year’s event is sure to be an even hotter ticket, and Villeneuve said the online signup for tickets will begin sometime in the spring.
To get updates, sign up for a $5 membership at http://dinerenblanc.info.