It Happened Last Night: Thousands Took Over Logan Circle for Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia

Photos from the much-talked-about affair.

diner en blanc philadelphia attendees at their table

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia attendees at their table. / Photography by Walden Green

Thursday night marked the 10th edition of Philly’s Dîner en Blanc, the annual event that toes (and perhaps crosses) the line between continental and cult-y.

This year, the surprise location was Swann Fountain and the surrounding Logan Circle on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The pop-up dinner party or glorified picnic, depending on who you ask, always stirs up the inevitable backlash and subsequent backlash to the backlash. I decided to observe as someone who just learned that this was even a thing a few weeks ago — a Gen Z outsider’s perspective on Dîner en Blanc’s bougie fantasy.

a photo of diner en blanc philadelphia guests

The location for this year’s Diner en Blanc Philly was Swann Fountain and the surrounding Logan Circle.

Beyond the overwhelming sea of white clothing, there was no consensus on whether the appropriate wardrobe was masquerade ball or golden age of jazz, glittery fairy-angel or lunch on the banks of the Seine. Every aisle of tables — brought from home, mind you — looked like they could be celebrating like five different holidays or occasions at the same time, whether that’s a wedding, christening, anniversary, birthday party, Valentine’s Day brunch, and so on.

To many people, the occasion to celebrate was Dîner en Blanc itself. The setup portion of the evening started off innocuous enough, but as the tablescapes got more and more elaborate — think lighting rigs, floral arrangements, actual spinning disco balls — it became clear just how seriously some of the attendees take this night out.

disco ball table at diner en blanc philadelphia

Yes, the disco balls were spinning. No, I don’t have a clue how they got them to do that.

The most impressive demonstration of that commitment was the wardrobe, of course. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a single person whose outfit deviated from the event’s strictly prescribed all-white dress code. I thought surely there’d be at least one guy in black sweatpants or khakis who’d been dragged along by his girlfriend, but there were none to be seen. Maybe they’d all been turned away at the check-in tent.

Dîner en Blanc is absurd and silly. But there’s also no better way to restore your faith in humanity than watching everyone on the dance floor do the cha cha slide to “Before I Let Go” performed by the Ernest Stuart Band and members of Snacktime. Or to watch drag queen Martha Graham Cracker and her band somehow turn Black Sabbath’s demonic “War Pigs” into an epic party moment.

I think we can all agree the napkin wave is corny (it’s the ceremonial moment where the thousands of white-clad people all wave their white napkins in the air simultaneously, signaling the start of the dinner party … definitely a moment to roll your eyes at), but the lighting of the sparklers at the end felt surprisingly… genuine? No one can say there wasn’t magic in the air for at least those few minutes.

diner en blanc philadelphia patrons with sparklers

The lighting of the sparklers felt surprisingly… genuine?

Whether Dîner en Blanc should be abolished, or whether it’s even worth a trip, I’m not sure I can say. What I can say is I’ve never seen anything quite like it. But I also don’t know that I’d ever feel the need to again.

More photos from Diner en Blanc Philadelphia 2022:

diner en blanc

Photograph courtesy Martha Graham Cracker

Photograph courtesy Martha Graham Cracker

diner en blanc

diner en blanc

diner en blanc