Diner en Blanc 2021: The glamour of it all!

This year’s event was proof positive that a global pandemic can’t hold us back from the sparkle, fizz & clink of Diner en Blanc! In 2020 we were still blindsided and figuring things out, but this evening was a breathtaking ride, and a reunion of sorts.

The Chloe wine was flowing, the dance floor throbbed – I even witnessed a proposal! The good kind, where he gets down on one knee. This revelry could not be possible, were it not for hosts Enjoli Moon, Christine Wansleben, and Ayana Obika.

Each woman embodies a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship in their own way. Moon is the founder of the Afrikana Film Festival, Wansleben is the owner and chef at Mise En Place and Obika is the chief visionary at Gratitude Rising Events. I’m just lightly grazing their accomplishments – they bring the world of art, film, food and and culture to Richmond, and we could feel the culmination of their efforts at Diner en Blanc.

This year tried the Chloe Prosecco, and it was so refreshing, I stuck with it the entire night. And what a night it was! The location of the event is not revealed until the day of, and it was held at the newly-revitalized Monroe Park, by the VCU campus.

When I was a student at VCU, the park was dimly lit, falling into disrepair, and plagued by violence. After being closed for a time, it reopened into a thing of grandeur. A giant two-tiered fountain is encircled by enameled bistro tables and chairs. Students study and couples hold hands – it felt like Paris. Which is only appropriate, since Diner en Blanc started in Paris over 30 years ago.

Celebrating with artist Ryan Azia

Most notably, the sun set and the sky turned cobalt blue. The minarets from the old Mosque (now the Altria theatre) lit up, and matched the cobalt of the sky. The moon rose above it and a cool breeze swept in, offering respite as we danced with sparklers in hand.

I enjoyed an incredible meal. Garnish Catering featured a vegetarian beef wellington, with asparagus, hummus, and flaky pastry. They made kale salad, a cheese plate and vegetables. Croaker’s Spot provided their famous fried chicken and cornbread. l topped it off with a decadent red velvet cupcake from Melissa’s Cupcakes.

It was an evening to remember. We triumphed over these troubled times. It’s easy to rise above amidst the glamorous, inclusive, and beautiful spirit of Diner en Blanc. See you next year!

Ashley Jefferson (center) of Virginia Style Magazine, flanked by partygoers.

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