Last week, the city saw its fifth-annual DEB event, which has 50-year-old Parisian roots. If you don’t know the schtick by now, it’s as follows: One night a year, thousands of people wearing their finest whites flock to a surprise, last-minute location for a posh dinner under the stars, which they themselves are entirely responsible for providing. Tickets? $45 per person, and that’s if you manage to get past the ridiculously long wait list.
Dîner En Blanc happens in cities around the world, but Philly is notoriously a little angsty about it. The debate largely centers around whether or not the event is an appropriate use of public space and if money collected should go toward some sort of charitable cause.
The event became especially controversial in 2014, when diners blocked South Broad Street along the Avenue of the Arts, impacting traffic and local businesses.
I like Dinner En Blanc. It's good for Philly! But scores of restaurants suffered tonight around there, with no notice, who plans this?
— Jim Kenney (@JimFKenney) August 22, 2014
This year, DEB Philly took place on August 18th on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred during the event itself, but when the PhillyVoice’s Brian Hickey wrote a op-ed bashing it, a local journalist responded in its defense, as did countless others on social media.
— Brian P. Hickey (@BrianPHickey) August 19, 2016
Organizer Natanya DiBona commented on Philly Mag photographer HughE Dillon‘s Facebook page, explaining what exactly goes into the event and how it has, in some ways, given back to Philly. Dillon has posted the statement, included below, on his blog.
Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.