Le Dîner en Blanc to Premiere in Decatur, Alabama
Every year, Dîner en Blanc International sees its network of elegant picnics grow. In 2018, a dozen of new cities from 7 different countries will join the adventure. First on the calendar: Le Dîner en Blanc - Decatur in Alabama on May 19th! The hosting team composed of a dynamic and passionate quartet - Dodie Hall, Debbie Joyner, Laura Ritch, Anne Scarbrough – that are hard at work putting all the details together. While doing so, they took the time to answer our questionnaire on how they came about bringing this first magical dining event experience to their city.
How did you come to organize Le Dîner en Blanc?
We first heard of the event through our children who have attended or witnessed the event in other cities. Their tales of the event were so intriguing that we began to research Dîner en Blanc and fell in love with the idea. We saw this event as a beautiful and ephemeral work of performance art created by an extended group of friends, and as something that would be special for our whole region.
Have you ever attended Le Dîner en Blanc?
We are heading to Le Dîner en Blanc - Las Vegas (the event took place on April 29, 2018). We have a list of cities we hope to attend in the future. It’s fun to dream about going to places like New Orleans or, of course, to Paris. We heard that our neighbor Memphis may be planning a Dîner ne Blanc. We’d love to attend there!
Can you describe your personal background and experiences in event planning? How is Le Dîner en Blanc different from any other event in which you’ve been involved?
We have a variety of past experiences with event-planning including: large theatrical productions interdisciplinary performance events both indoors and out, as well as anniversary events and galas. Artistically, we are particularly enamored by site-specific performance pieces. Le Diner en Blanc felt to us like one of those. This event is very unique and distinguishes itself from others because of the secrecy required, in combination with the need to collaborate with public (city and state) organizations. In a small city like Decatur, secrets can be very hard to keep! We love the new relationships we’ve forged throughout the planning of Le Dîner en Blanc - Decatur and have a greater appreciation of the inclusiveness of this event. The illicit criteria of this event leaves one with no choice but to reach out far and wide to establish a team. What a wondrous side-effect!
Describe your relationship to your city. How long have you lived there, and what is it about your city that makes hosting Le Dîner en Blanc such a good fit?
Some of us have grown up here and have life-long relationships with this city. Others of us have moved to the area in the past 10 years or so. We all love Decatur and North Alabama. It’s a beautiful city filled with rich history and so much charm. There’s something about life on the river that sets a different pace from other cities. It’s a small city with big vision and forward-thinking leadership. Those of us who are newer to the area were quick to establish roots in this warm and welcoming community. Le Dîner en Blanc offers the opportunity to capture the character and personality of a city. Decatur has done a great job of preserving its historic architecture and has an abundance of gorgeous and significant public spaces. It’s an artsy community in which cultural events are highly valued and well-supported.
How did your team of hosts come together? How has your collaboration progressed so far?
That’s such a funny question to consider now. Some of us were new to each other when we began, but throughout this process we have established a level of intimacy with each other that it might have taken much longer to develop under other circumstances. We have had to develop trust in each other quickly. We’ve earned so much from Dîner en Blanc International and from each other. We’ve developed some life-long friendships along the way.
What do you think will be the greatest challenge as you move forward with your event? Or, what has the greatest challenge been so far?
I think our greatest challenges are the things we can’t control — like the weather. We’re pretty detail-oriented, so we have done our best to prepare for the unknown.
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