White night—le Diner en Blanc 2013

Shopping centres are a crazy place at the best of times, but on Saturday afternoon the entrance to Centro Toombul was overtaken by a sea of white.

Tables and chairs were stacked along all available space and a lone police officer was called in to crowd control as hundreds gathered to wait for buses to this year’s ‘secret’ location for le Diner en Blanc.

Crowds gather outside Toombul Centro ready for transportation to the 'surprise' venue.

Now in its second year in Brisbane, le Diner en Blanc is rapidly growing into a ‘must attend’ event for Brisbanites and with tickets only $35, it’s an affordable night out for most people.

But there is a catch—it’s BYO food, utensils, tables and chairs.

Last year’s event, which I wrote about here, saw 1000 attendees converge on Southbank while demand saw this year’s event swell to more than 2000 attendees, with thousands more on the waiting list.

Those who had simply popped along to Toombul to do their weekly shopping were surprised; many stopped to ask for an explanation while others were keen to know if the night’s location had been revealed.

Finally, after almost an hour of waiting and with sweat threatening to turn the event into a wet dress competition, we boarded our buses with picnic baskets in hand.

20130902-161015.jpg
Reshni and I.
With our dinner companions ... Brigid, Marysia, Jane and Jennifer.
With our dinner companions … Brigid, Marysia, Jane and Jennifer.

Less than 10 minutes later, we found ourselves at Hamilton Reach—a new residential complex along the Brisbane River—nestled between Northshore Riverside Park and the Royal Queensland Golf Club and fronted by green space.

The short walk along the river to our set-up location would have been quite picturesque, were it not for the fact we were juggling three tables, six chairs and a ridiculous number of picnic baskets and bags filled with food.

And wearing heels. (Yeah, that was a great decision on my behalf). With each step I took, my ladylike facade quickly began to fade.

But when we arrived the set-up was underway and even though the spot couldn’t compare with last year’s position beside the Wheel of Brisbane, it was still pretty amazing.

Frenzied phone calls, text messages and synchronised booking meant we’d managed to secure seats together which made the night even more fun than last year.

It also made catering easier as each pair took care of a course. The highlights were freshly baked brownies made by our talented chocolatier Brigid of Kokopod and a delicious Eton Mess in a jar made by Jane from Miss Jane’s Cakes.

I felt this year’s event had more of a party/festival vibe than last year with roaming musicians, a photo booth and, of course, a bigger group of friends.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few hiccups; the arranged transport didn’t run as smoothly as planned and the port-a-loos ran out of water requiring everyone to wash their hands with bottled water, but I still thought it was a great night and I’m already looking forward to next year’s dinner!

Here are some of my favourite shots from the night (and thank you to Marysia for letting me share some of her great shots with you).

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