Le Dîner En Blanc puts unity, dining and ‘Cirque En Blanc’ on display for annual all-white party

Lighting of the sparklers at Le Diner en Blanc. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An event that began with three friends in 1988 in Paris has now become an annual soiree among hundreds of people throughout multiple cities across America.

Le Diner En Blanc celebrated its third annual outdoor party Saturday evening where Jacksonville residents and people from near and far came together donning all-white attire and wheeling their picnic baskets behind them for a celebration of friendship and entertainment.

Markesha Fuller has over 20 years of event planning and marketing experience and brought the dinner party to Jacksonville in 2019.

“Friends decided to go for a picnic in a park, and they said, ‘What better way to identify our friends all by wearing white?’ So, what started with just a very small group of friends has now grown to over 103 cities and 40 countries worldwide,” Fuller said.

Once a year, attendees joined together at a secret location to dine in a public place draped in elegant and dapper all-white outfits. This year the Cirque En Blanc-themed dinner party was held at James Weldon Johnson Park where guests were entertained by a violinist, aerial acrobats, ballerinas and fire dancers.

“It is an amazing social networking event, where you dine with friends, -- new or old. You bring an old friend with you and when you’re seated, you’re seated next to someone that you don’t know, and you leave with a new friend.” Fuller said. “It’s about bringing everybody from all walks of life and all backgrounds under the same umbrella for one night and that’s unity and dining together.”

Hundred of people attended the classy pop up dinner at James Weldon Johnson Park

While guests enjoyed the localized experience with a live performance from Jacksonville’s very own Sherrod Brown, the traditions of the Diner En Blanc affair were on display as well.

One of the traditions of the chic pop-up picnic is the napkin twirl, where guests twirl their napkins around their heads, signifying that it is time to dine.

“It’s been a unique celebration bringing people together to enjoy dinner, culture, and unique lifestyle and allow people to build new friendships. Do something different and out of the box, and it’s just a special thing for every city that it goes to. Jacksonville especially has really been able to embrace this, and we love it,” said Tash Johnson of Tampa.

Jerri Garrison, who was visiting from Atlanta, is an avid Dine En Blanc attendee but told News4JAX it was her first time attending the Jacksonville dinner party. She also said she was invited by a friend who was a table leader at the event.

“This is my first honor being here in Jacksonville. It’s been a great experience,” Garrison said. “I’ve had the opportunity to connect with an old high school friend out of Atlanta. She lives here in Jacksonville. So, just being here to spend time with friends and family members has been a great opportunity.”

After guests were good and full from dinner, they lit their sparklers and waved them in the sky to let everyone know the dance floor was open -- meaning it was time to party.

Ericka Durant has attended the event since its origination in Jacksonville and said she loves the “creativity and togetherness” that it brings to the area.

“I love the ambiance and love the whole idea as dinner among friends -- everybody comes together, you might see people you know and people you don’t know,” Durant said.

At the end of the night, guests packed up their belongings and headed home until the next time.

“After we party, we vanish leaving no trace behind, never to return in the same place,” Fuller said.

You can join the waitlist for next year’s celebration by visiting Jacksonville.Dinerenblanc.com.

About the Author:

As a proud alumnus of Bethune-Cookman University, Kendra is a Jacksonville native, who loves all things lifestyle-related.