Le Diner en Blanc – Memphis style – was a grand night out. I was flattered to attend and to be selected as a table host.
The event concept dates back to Paris nearly 30 years ago when a gentleman – un monsieur if you will – named Francois Pasquier hosted a handful of his friends. It has ballooned to over 10,000 guests in the City of Lights, with mirroring events in Prague, Cuba, Tanzania and myriad other points, including multiple U.S. cities.
And now, Memphis has been added to the list.
Victoria Young and Gene Robinson III, who ushered the “the chic picnic” into our city, were the official hosts, Guests are kept in the dark about the location, which is typically in one of the respective city’s most valued historic/scenic public outdoor spaces. We were picked up by coach at various locations and then spirited away.
By now, anyone on social media knows the Memphis location was Mississippi River Park (formerly Jefferson Davis Park) – a significant selection given the past and recent history. In my eyes, it was a mark of cultural progress that 1,000-plus Memphians of varied stripes co-mingled in a space that has been so fraught with racial tension and which many long have viewed as silent approval of slavery and the city’s segregated past.
We partied on the site that long had harbored the statue saluting the only president of the Confederate States of America. The meaningfulness of the moment was lost on nary an attending soul. Well played, well done.
The event is all-white everything down to the table settings. We turned up and turned out in all of our finery – beautiful headpieces, fascinators, jewels. The more elegant or elaborate the better. Some had lighting and chandeliers, table umbrellas and canopies. Memphis and Memphians truly leveled up.
The heat and a couple short bursts of rain did not stop the party. We ate, drank and danced into the night, rockin’ on the ride back to our drop-off point. Shout out to Ms. Delores, our driver. She’s the best. My awesome bus mates included the soon-to-be State Rep. London Lamar (District 91)and Danielle Inez, who helped mastermind Lee Harris’ successful race for Shelby County mayor.
The DJ was great, playing old and new favorites throughout the night and pausing about midway as Nick Black took over for a set. Get familiar with him – native Memphian and very, very talented.
BIG BIG props to Victoria and crew for the labor of love on an affair to remember. Looking forward to the next one.