Around 7 p.m. Thursday, more than 1,000 people dressed in all white trickled into the middle of Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. They wore suits, dresses, wedding dresses, feathers and top hats, and each carried either a white table or chairs, picnic baskets and a cellphone. It was the second Los Angeles installment of Diner en Blanc, the large-scale pop-up dinner that started in France 27 years ago, and it was epic.
Diner en Blanc first popped up in Los Angeles in 2013, closing Rodeo Drive and the surrounding streets for an evening, but the event took a hiatus last year.
Here's how it works. You sign up on the Diner en Blanc website. If you're accepted to participate, you pay a fee ($35), then pick a meeting spot in L.A., where you'll meet your group leader on the big day to board a bus to dinner. The location of the dinner is a secret until you arrive.
More than 1,000 people participated in Diner en Blanc, a flash-mob dinner party in Pershing Square. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times.
You must wear white, you must bring your own white chairs and table with a white table cloth. Your napkins must be cloth and there is no disposable silverware, plates or cups allowed. The word "elegant" is used a total of four times in the instructions sent to participants.
If you want wine (of course you do), you have to buy it through the Diner en Blanc website, then pick it up when you arrive at the secret location.
Within minutes of arriving at Pershing Square, people set up their tables and chairs in neat rows, then got to work on the elaborate tablescapes. There were twinkling lights, candles, flowers and tiered serving platters.
Like many tables at Diner en Blanc, this one was full of charcuterie, cheese, wine, flowers and beautiful dishware. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times.
And they didn't skimp on the food. The option to buy a catered basket was available to all participants, but most people decided to bring their own dinner. This included charcuterie boards full of foie gras, platters of cheese, all manner of canapés and plenty of dessert.
One table took the time to make cake pops with mustaches on them. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times.
"I saw it on a blog and thought this is something cool; I need to get on the waitlist," said Kenneth Village resident Rachelle Meredith. "I'm really impressed. It's a really nice mixture of ages and styles."
Meredith attended the pop-up for the first time this year and brought along Silver Lake resident Kerri Campbell. The two set up an elegant table complete with bottles of Chardonnay, salmon, fingerling potatoes, quinoa with cranberries, Brussels sprout and date salad, goat cheese and a fruit tart."
From left, Rachelle Meredith and Kerri Campbell toast wine glasses at the Diner en Blanc pop-up dinner in Pershing Square. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times.
Around 9 p.m., the dance party started. The north section of the square transformed into a nightclub with neon lights and a massive dance floor.
"Are we in Ibiza?" asked one dancer.
With DJ Sak Noel's "The Nini Anthem" playing - the lyrics include a repeat of "Monday party, Tuesday party, Wednesday party," and hundreds of people dancing around in the warm evening air, it sure felt like a nightclub in the Mediterranean.
By 10:30 p.m., people started packing up and jumping into Ubers. You were supposed to stay until 11 p.m., clean up, and board the bus you came on, back to your meeting spot. Some did. Those who were still standing after three hours of eating, drinking, dancing and being fabulous, headed to the secret after-party at a location nearby, already planning what to bring for next year's soiree.