That's what the invitation for the "Dinner in White" event read, and immediately my fiancée and I started putting together our outfits for the outing. In association with the Prospect Park Alliance and the Chloe Wine Collection, this is PopUp Dinner Brooklyn's third annual event, with all proceeds going to the Alliance. Handmade Events, the folks behind PopUp, also operate events in San Diego, Miami, California Wine Country, the Twin Cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charleston, and Dallas.
The concept is simple: Guests purchase a $40 ticket, prepare their own meals at home or purchase them from a store, and bring everything to the event along with any wine they wish to drink. The only catch? The exact location is divulged via email only two hours before the unofficial start time of 5 p.m. As soon the announcement came, some 6,000 people set out for The Nethermead — this year's "secret" location — in the middle of Prospect Park and began setting up their area with tables and chairs provided by the event.
Those who didn't care to transport their own food and drink could opt for a VIP package for $170 (per couple) — which included a choice of two meals (chicken cacciatore or vegetarian lasagna), a few starters (including charcuterie and bruschetta), a dessert (strawberry-rhubarb crostata or a peach berry-cream tart), and a bottle of Chloe Wine — and could pick up their supplies upon arriving at the event.
Decked out in white from head to toe (save for the black tie I insisted on wearing) and ready to go, my lady and I got our email notification and immediately starting making our way to Prospect Park. As soon we boarded the subway, the obviousness of our outfits was clear. People stared at every stop along the way, and we quickly brainstormed answers to the questions random strangers might ask regarding our unique destination: We're going to an old-timey milkman convention. We're headed to a Clorox company retreat. We're partying on P-Diddy's yacht. Or, as they should probably assume, we’re on our way to an awesome party.
The closer we got to our destination, the more similarly dressed people we spotted. A few on the train, a large group at the park's entrance, and finally a scattered herd all converging on the open field at The Nethermead. After smoothly passing through the gate, we landed a table and the experience began.
First there was some nice background music, then a couple speeches (including a few words from Senator Chuck Schumer), and then the live music started, which consisted mostly of hip-hop and R&B.
However, we were more interested in trying some of the offerings from Chloe Wines, who were nice enough to hook us up with as many glasses as we cared to sample. We tried the crisp and balanced prosecco, the chardonnay with refreshing hints of fruit, and the delightfully crisp pinot grigio — however, the rosé was the obvious winner amongst everyone we spoke to. In fact, it was such a big hit in the press area that they ended up sending around a server armed with a bottle in order to keep the glasses full and save us some trips to the bar. (For the record, we’re told the rosé has yet to make it to East Coast shelves, but should arrive soon.)
Of course the special treatment made the event extra special for us, but it was really a great festival for all involved — even those who opted to BYO everything. The weather was beautiful (minus a few stray raindrops), the music was poppin', and the crowd was clearly in a jovial mood as they packed the dance floor so much that it overflowed into the surrounding areas as well.
As the sun set, bright flood lights came on to keep the party going until its 10 p.m. curfew — a cut-off that almost every guest milked down to the very last minute. As the festive crowd made their way out of The Nethermead and away from Prospect Park, it was clear to see, even with the sun long gone, that smiles were fixed to the faces of everyone who attended. And not only was it a good time, but it was all for a great cause.