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PDX's First Diner en Blanc Popped Up at Jamison Square

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Photos by Jen Stevenson

As promised, the famous Paris-born flash mob picnic known as Diner en Blanc made its Portland debut over the weekend, descending upon the "secret" Pearl District location of Jamison Square. Hosted by Christopher Handford, owner of Jamison and Davis Street Tavern, the event was accessible only by registering online and being issued an invite link an the last-minute. (Diner en Blanc events in other cities have popped up everywhere from Lincoln Center to Philadelphia's JFK Bridge to the World Financial Center in Battery Park City.)

Adhering to strict protocol — dress entirely in white and BYO table with a white tablecloth and white chairs, white dishware and cloth napkins, a picnic and up to two bottles of wine — attendees congregated at pre-set meeting points all over the city, then were ferried via streetcar to the secret picnic location. (The estimated attendance was well under the 500-person cap originally placed by organizers, but numbered probably between 150-200 diners.) Waving their white napkins once tables had been arranged and set to specification, guests then sat down in unison and ate together as the Portland Cello Project played in the center of the park.

At 9p.m., sparklers were distributed and lit, and the DJ began to play, prompting everyone to swarm the fountains and leap around in the water like albino kangaroos as passerby watched incredulously. One Pearl resident was less than delighted by the merriment, and took it upon himself to stomp around ripping all the white perimeter tape from the park trees. But other than that, it was smooth sailing until 10p.m., when group leaders drifted through the crowd, instructing everyone to pack up and ship out. In minutes, the group had vanished without a trace, filtering back onto streetcars or preferably, into a nearby bar.
· Diner en Blanc [Official site]


900 NW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209