Guess who came to dinner?
On Monday night in Manhattan, the answer was 3,000 people — all dressed in white, descending on the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
The venue was a surprise until just before the flash-mob feast started at 7 p.m. Registered guests got emails telling them where to go.
They brought chairs, tables, food and drink, plus candles and snow white balloons sailing high above the main plaza at sunset. Row after white row filled the space around a high-shooting fountain — free of charge, with legal permits.
Matthew Karl Gale wore a sailor hat as he sat at a small white-covered table he bought on Craigslist.
"I looked for 'small white folding table,'" the 33-year-old eyewear designer from Brooklyn said with a grin.
His tattooed dinner partner, biotech industry employee Cassandra McCall, also 33, came all the way from San Francisco to join the revelry, explaining, "I love the group dynamic of all these people together, in white — it's enchanting."
Gale said he enjoyed "the difficulty of getting everything together — the food, the table — and bringing it here on the subway."
Their table was filled with cheese, a couscous dish, prosciutto, grapes and more — eaten with real home cutlery and linen napkins that came from their wicker basket. There were white roses for the table.
And then, Gale added, "you have this unique, quirky experience, and it's over."
Pop-up picnics will also be staged in Philadelphia on Thursday, Chicago on Friday, and next week in Vancouver, Singapore and Brisbane, Australia, followed by about a dozen other cities months from now.
Rob Robinson and Gai Spann, both 43, brought their own strobe light, plus some pearls and diamonds that represent his college fraternity and her sorority.
"We're both into food and wine, and dressing up," said Spann, who owns a travel agency and wore a lacy white head ornament. He runs his own e-commerce company.
Next year, they plan to fly to Paris, where Diner en Blanc — French for dinner in white — was started in 1988 by a group of friends and is repeated each year. The volunteer event grew by word of mouth and social media to dozens of cities worldwide.
This year was the second New York repast; the first was held last August on a plaza near the World Trade Center.
Published at 8:51 PM EDT on Aug 20, 2012 | Updated at 10:18 PM EDT on Aug 20, 2012