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What I Learned and Loved from Nairobi’s First Diner En Blanc! - Chela Manja

In December 2015, I joined some 600 (or thereabout) fun loving, turned up Nairobians for Nairobi’s first Le Dîner en Blanc.
Le Dîner en Blanc started almost 30 years ago in Paris and is best described as an elegant pop-up dinner/picnic with hundreds/thousands of revelers dressed in white, dining under the stars in picturesque city locations. The Dîner en Blanc events are held annually in some 60 cities spanning the globe in cities as varied as Shanghai, Kigali, London, Ney York, Johannesburg and Sydney.


So here is my take.
Dîner en Blanc 101


  1. Go all out! 
What makes Dîner en Blanc magical is how invested participants are in the experience. It is not only dinner under the sky but a whole experience that starts from the preparation to the night of. That means, you better turn it up good as other guests will certainly do. On the night of, I promise you will be amazed by the effort that guest pour into the event. The creativity and elegance of some of the guests last year featured masquerade masks, intricate table layouts. All enjoyed with friends, music, wind and champagne. So yes, it’s the night to go all out!
  1. Turn that white outfit up. 
No need to spend an arm and a leg for your elegant attire, all you need is a bit of imagination to turn a simple white dress or suit into something special.  Think hat, fascinator, funky shoes, glasses, masks.  Just remember it needs to be white!
  1. Practice makes party-perfect.
Had I known, I would have practiced setting up my table before the event. You would be surprised how little can fit on a small table. Lesson learned.  Plus this year, there will be prizes for best table. Exciting!  So you need to turn it up. Get all your accessories in advance! Some of the essentials are not as easy to find as it seems. I looked for white cloth napkins for about two days and still didn’t manage to get pure white ones. Shop early.  One more thing, don’t forget to get candles or lights for your table.  It gets dark really fast and early. J Lessons. Lessons.
  1. Food
My advice: cold food is preferable. For my first Diner en Blanc, we prepare and brought our own picnic basket containing some hot dish. Disaster! By the time, we arrived at the venue, set up and started eating, our food was cold and not sot delish.  Also, leave the chocolate cake/ice cream at home, it will melt!
Those are some of the lessons I learnt. Oh! One more thing! Come with your happy adventurous spirit. Everything may not go as perfectly as you planned, but despite it all, it will be amazing!!


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