First of all, you need to be "sponsored" by someone already involved with DEB in order to even be eligible. Then, you pay $68.50 to reserve your seats for you and your guest, because you absolutely must register in pairs. Seriously, that's mandatory. And by "reserve your seats", they mean bring your own fucking chairs. I'm not kidding. You pay $68.50 to bring your own table and chairs, and it MUST be between 28 and 32 inches. Also, the location is of course not revealed until minutes before the event, so there you are, wandering the city in all white, carrying a table, chairs and all of your food/drink, waiting to find out where you get to haul all of your shit.
I know what you're thinking- "Sure, $68.50 is a lot to pay, but surely it goes to a charity or something right?" NOPE. Your money goes right into DEB's pockets. Per their website:
Is the Diner en Blanc associated with a humanitarianism or social cause?
What makes Diner en Blanc so popular is that it's a "distinct" evening. There are no political or ideological agendas and very minimal branding. Le Diner en Blanc is simply a gathering whose sole purpose is to create a magical evening, where guests are in good company, and in an environment which is both unusual and extraordinary. On a private level, hosts can decide to support any humanitarian cause they want, but not associated directly with Diner en Blanc.
Translation: We are greedy as hell and can't be bothered with the needs and struggles of disgusting poor and/or sick people.
Another bizarre tidbit I found while perusing the FAQs portion of their site is that men and women are required to sit opposite each other, for "photogenic" reasons. How nice of them to tell you where you are allowed to sit and eat your own food at your own table in your own chairs. This is an awful lot of shit to go through just to have a couple of cool photos for your Instagram. Luckily, same sex couples are not expected to adhere to this bizarre rule, 'cause DEB is progressive like that.
Also, if you're heading to DEB, make sure you pick up a white raincoat and a transparent umbrella (it actually says that on their website) as well because in the event of rain/snow/apocalypse, your ass is still expected to be there. If you don't show, you are blacklisted from registering for future events. That's right, DEB doesn't take any shit or listen to any excuses. Your ass is banned for life, son.
So, why do people continue to participate in this asinine, outwardly pretentious event? Maybe they are pretentious themselves, maybe they feel like it'll make them sound cool at the water cooler the next day, or maybe they just want some sweet Instagram pictures of 3,500 people wearing white and holding sparklers. I don't know. But this Thursday, instead of attending DEB, I'll be in my backyard wearing whatever the fuck I want, eating hot dogs cooked on my grill at a table I didn't have to carry anywhere. And maybe I'll even spring for a $3 box of sparklers for the occasion.
Stay drunk, bitches!
Update: The cost for Diner en Blanc is $68.50 per pair, not per person, and has been corrected.