MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - In less than an hour, a public park in South Beach was transformed into an elegant picnic where the food was gourmet and the all-white dress code was strictly enforced.
Miami Beach is the latest city to join the international dining phenomenon known as "Diner en Blanc."
Dinner guests had to dress completely in white — including media covering the event — and help set up the chairs and tables before the dinner began Tuesday night in Miami Beach Soundscape, a public park outside the New World Center.
"It makes it so fun for most of the people, because they've already achieved something, working together, and spending three or four hours to see the results of their work," said Aymeric Pasquier, the son of the founder of the original "Diner en Blanc" in Paris, which last year celebrated its 25th anniversary with a pop-up picnic for 15,000 people.
The dining event has spread to 50 cities worldwide, including more than a dozen in Canada. Miami Beach is the latest American iteration of the event. Organizers say more than 800 cities have put in requests to hold their own "Diner en Blanc" events.
Invitations spread by word of mouth, and to preserve spontaneity and secrecy, the locations of the dinners are always kept secret until the last minute. Participants say the mystery is part of each dinner's allure, and for many the event really begins hours earlier as they choose and prepare outfits that must be entirely white from head to toe.
"I think the whole secret location is really cool. And it kind of adds to the whole mission," said Carolina Ramirez.
The waving of 1,000 white cloth napkins marked the start of Tuesday's dinner. Along with all-white fashions, elaborate table settings and gourmet food, the evening included live music and dancing.
Actress Gabrielle Union and Barbara Becker, the ex-wife of former tennis star Boris Becker, were among the diners.