“Goth picnic” kills Diner en Blanc with kindness



The last thing anyone would expect from the organizers of East Vancouver’s Ce Soir Noir would be praise for the massive gathering of fanciness that is Diner en Blanc. Heck, the now-annual dress-in-black event came about as a direct and biting response to the all-white phenomenon when it took over Crab Park last summer. All are welcome to attend for free and the “rules” are: dress in black, bring your own food and also bring some non-perishables to give to the food bank, clean up yer trash and basically be excellent to each other. It was launched by artists Graeme Berglund and George Vergette last year as a sort of anti-Diner en Blanc and attracted a whopping 1,500 attendees.

Diner en Blanc 2016. Photo: Heliwood Media
7,000 people attended Diner en Blanc 2016 last week. Photo: Heliwood Media

The big white party is a magnet to some and openly criticized by others who cringe at the elitist vibe that it promises, and is successful because of – the fact that not just any deadbeat can get in is undoubtedly part of the draw. I don’t want to call people who aren’t drawn to this “malcontents” (because I myself avoid it like the plague), but Ce Soir’s success is in great part due to malcontentedness and in all of its anti-Diner-ness is a jab at the “establishment”. And the true polarization of these events is almost comical when you look at it from either side, literally dressed in white or black. Sure, in between the two extremes people like Alexandra Gill have opinions on it, this year she attended Diner and criticized that she felt it had lost its panache for the sake of a few greasy bucks – you could argue it was started for the sake of that – but for the most part it seems like most people are with one and against the other.

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All of this is to say that I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see Ce Soir Noir’s co-founder Graeme Berglund being quoted as saying that while Diner en Blanc does have an elitist air to it, he thinks “the really positive thing is it shows, in an otherwise socially cold city, a really phenomenal desire for people to come together and meet some strangers and share a meal”. There it was on CTV’s website today, the co-creator of one of these seemingly polarized events speaking reason, extending an olive branch in a way, talking about how his event and theirs bring people together. That’s really awesome.

Ce Soir Noir takes place in Crab Park on Tuesday August 30th. RSVP HERE. Or don’t.

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Bob is our founder and Editor-in-Chief. A family man and outdoors enthusiast in his 3rd decade of publishing, he steers the V.I.A. ship, hosts our 'BC Was Awesome' history TV show and co-hosts our weekly podcast. bobk@vancouverisawesome.com