Friday, September 27, 2013

Dîner en Blanc Chicago

The last place I thought I would be applying make-up and straightening my hair in preparation to attend a flash mob picnic dinner with 1000 of my closest friends was a Chicago police station.

Cat-sitting ‘Cat’, also known as Gouda but only ever referred to as Cat, in an apartment in the Ukrainian Village area of Chicago where I was staying with a friend, we leave at 12:13pm according to the police report. We’re heading down the street to head over to Lincoln Park to join the other directors of Dîner en Blanc to prepare for the night’s festivities.

An unflattering welcome sign
Dîner en Blanc is a flash mob picnic dinner, where attendees dress all in white and are only told of the secret location on the day of the event, where thousands of people will descend on a public space in a city and simply take it over. White picnic tables with tablecloths are erected and people take a seat on their white picnic chairs where they have dinner and dance under candlelight. It has been a Paris tradition for 25 years, this year’s edition being quite spectacular with 12,000 people converging on Trocadéro.

Dîner en Blanc - Paris 2013
This was the second year that Chicago was hosting the event. A 1000 people would that evening be enjoying dinner on a balmy night amongst the iconic architecture that Chicago is known for.

At approximately 12:17pm my male friend and I were victims of an aggravated robbery by a man threatening us with a loaded finger in his jacket. A fight ensued with my friend and the mugger, with me rather ineffectively trying to pull the men apart while yelling nonsense. The fight landed on the ground, the mobile phone that was the source of the mugger’s motivation was thrown across the street. The mugger got up and turns to me and tries to pull my tote bag off my shoulder. Surprised that he wasn’t able to take from me, he tries again, and I pull back even harder. The tote bag contained perhaps the most valuable possessions a women could possibly have, her make-up bag and her hair-straightener. There was no way in the world that he was EVER going to get my bag.

The mugger is set upon by friend letting go of my bag only to run into the middle of the street to try and retrieve the said mobile phone. He slips, falls on his arse and is promptly met with a kick by my friend.

It’s at this point that a 100+ kg man emerges stage left brandishing a real matt black 45mm gun pointed directly at the mugger yelling at him to stay down and turn onto his stomach. I now effectively start yelling that there is a gun!

A number of very expletive threats are shouted by the 100+ kg man with the mugger finally complying. It’s at this point the man instructs my friend to get the man’s ‘slim mobile’ from his car. While this is happening the man tells me very quietly that he’s a policeman.

After radioing in the robbery on his slim mobile within 30 seconds, I swear 30 seconds, four unmarked police cars scream into a fan at my feet. A further 30 seconds later, a marked police car screeches to a halt in behind.

The 100+ kg man is an undercover policeman that was conducting surveillance of an alleged drug cartel member in the same street, and his team were in the surrounding streets. A very unlucky situation became a very fortunate one.

Almost three hours at the 12th district Chicago police station meant that precious make-up and hair straightening time was being lost very quickly. Drastic times called for drastic measures. I appllied my make-up while sitting in the police station offices, surrounded by the atypical Chicagoan middle-aged tubby cops, who kindly fed me water and a cookie.

A free ride by yet another 100+ kg policeman named Steve, who lovvvvvves pizza so he tells us and is a self-proclaimed aficionado, meant we were back in Lincoln Park in just the knick of time to set off to the secret location.

A champagne was promptly popped once we arrived onsite as we enjoyed an abundant picnic dinner over looking the Wrigley building alongside the Chicago River, which was followed by napkin waving, sparklers and dancing.

A Chicagoan experience to remember!
A magnum of champagne never goes astray
(Courtesy of Jaysen Goranson)
Setting our table before our 1000 friends join us 
(Courtesy of Jaysen Goranson)

Headwear all the rage with habibi Tom

Napkin waving in front of the Wrigley Building

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a way to start the picnic, makes for a great story. Glad to hear no harm done and that you retained your bag and sundries. You looked fab, the dress is a definite winner.