Please white to be seated: Diner en blanc comes to Philly

Philadelphia will see a flash mob of a very classy order Thursday night.

Diner en Blanc is an outdoor, pop-up dining event where all the participants wear white.

“Dining in white” started in the city of light — more than 20 years ago, a group of friends in Paris donned their best whites and had dinner en plein air. The Diner en blanc concept is now franchised in 17 cities around the world — not without some hiccups.

“You can tell it’s not an American-based website,” said Bethanne Mascio, who bought her tickets months ago. “It was not intuitive. You had a 15-minute window time frame when you had to work through everything. The error messages I was getting were in French. So then I’m on Google Translator, and I’m, like, ‘What does this mean?'”

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There are more complications. A $59 ticket gets you a table for two, but you have to bring your own table and chairs. And provide your own food. And carry it all by hand to an undisclosed location.

The global registration website also assumes that table for two will be for a male and a female. While same-sex pairings are not forbidden, the website assumes you’re straight.

“When I looked on the website, it took me a little time to figure out what it was and what was involved,” said Philadelphia food blogger Kristy DelMuto. “But the pictures really told the story.”

For all the burden placed on the ticket-holder, the payoff is the sheer beauty of the event. Thousands of people will come together wearing crisp white, aglow in summer twilight, to sit at what is promised to be an iconic Philadelphia location.

DelMuto has seen pictures online from Paris, Montreal, and New York, and describes them as “magical.”

“You sit down to this meal, and you see everyone pulling out all kinds of gourmet meals that they’ve prepared, setting their tables, elegant music is playing in the background,” said organizer Natanja Dibona.

The location is a closely guarded secret. Even members of the hired band — the Hot Club of Philadelphia — were not told in advance. The sold-out event will attract 1,300 diners to what Dibona promises will be an iconic local site.

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