It's a summer evening in Philadelphia, where 27-year-old Shavyra Chambers, sporting all white, is diving into a bowl of pasta placed on top of a white folding table. Seated on a large grass field with her boyfriend, the couple is part of a 4,500-strong group partaking of both food and pictures destined to land on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
It's all part of the Diner en Blanc experience, an organized secret pop-up picnic that began in 1988 and requires guests to wear white and bring supplies of the same color. Taking place once a year on varying dates in 60 cities, the specific location of the event is held secret up until the very last moment.
Participants who are able to score a ticket from the highly sought-after event must bring their own food, tables, chairs, dishes and tablecloth—with nearly everything in white. It's an unorthodox concept that is expected to draw 100,000 people globally this year, and by all indications it's one of the hottest tickets around. The organizers say more than 20,000 people compete for a place at the table.
So what's the objective of this fete, other than to create a critical mass of dinner selfies? To spark new relationships among total strangers, the event's organizer explained to CNBC.
"To make friendships, you need to share moments," Aymeric Pasquier, executive director of Diner en Blanc, told CNBC in a phone interview. "You don't just have them by having them on Facebook. You call them friends but they're not really friends."
Pasquier is the son of François Pasquier, who began the tradition 27 years ago in Paris with his friends. It's only grown to the United States in the past few years.