CE SOIR NOIR offers public picnic alternative to Diner En Blanc

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Looking for an excuse to meet up with a couple hundred of your favourite strangers and enjoy an evening picnic in a Vancouver park, all while dressed in the same colour?

On Tuesday, August 25, 2015, CE SOIR NOIR will take place in Crab Park. It’s a free and totally un-fancy picnic that’s aiming to draw a diverse crowd for a community-oriented night of eating and hanging out.

Or, as the Facebook event page explains: “This is an evening of a resounding positive community eating dinner together. An ad-hoc, barely-even-organized, family-friendly event.”

Why all black, on this day, and with such emphasis on the vibe? Well, as organizer Graeme Berglund explains, the event “is a tongue in cheek response to Diner En Blanc which is a popular exclusive fee-based dinner that takes place annually in Vancouver.” Diner En Blanc, which mandates guests wear all-white and gather at a secret location, can be a hard ticket to come by, and it happens to be taking place that same night.

“We wanted to provide a platform for an inclusive communal dinner to create open discourse between the two events,” adds Berglund. He says he knows the Diner En Blanc Vancouver organizers, and considers them “cultural operatives” who are “doing what they see best.”

For CE SOIR NOIR, guests are asked to dress in all-black, bring their own food (and friends), blankets, battery-powered lights, and a non-perishable food item to donate to the Vancouver Food Bank. Dogs are not allowed (just to keep everyone and everything on the mellow side), and if it’s raining, the whole thing is called off. A clean-up crew will be brought in after, but the organizers are requesting all participants do their part by taking with them every last thing they brought.

The location of CE SOIR NOIR, Crab Park, was the ideal choice, says Berglund, because of its “established history of being a place that citizens fought for to seek as a place of public access and designation as a public park.” Plus, its proximity to East Vancouver makes it an ideal gathering spot for community-minded residents looking for a fun night out–and an opportunity to support locals with their non-perishable food donation.

The CE SOIR NOIR organizers are unabashedly cheeky about what kind of crowd they expect their event to draw. From the event page:

You must be warned however: There will be gay people here. And Latinos. Lots of them. Some Persian folks. Native people. Students with massive debt. A handful of Greek people. The dreaded Quebequois. Some Swedes. A smattering of Peruvians and even worse, some white people that work in IT.

The bottom line for CE SOIR NOIR is that getting together is an important way to build connections in a community. Berglund elaborates:

“Operating in the Cultural Community for 15 years as well as travelling to many other cities with highly developed cultural events and such, I think that we need more events of all kinds, from the rigid and highly thought out and executed to the spontaneous and weird. We are actually well on our way to achieving this.”

CE SOIR NOIR

When: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 6 p.m.
Where: Crab Park, 101 East Waterfront Road

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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