Collingswood is known for its foodie culture, but on September 7, the borough is reaching out to its cultured foodies to pull off its inaugural Pop-Up Gala.
Styled after (but legally distinct from) the Parisian diner en blanc experience, the idea is to create a temporary dining spectacle that is assembled on the spot and disappears immediately after.
Or, as Collingswood Director of Community Development Cassandra Duffey says, it's "a super-secret pop-up dinner.
“We all start converging on this one point, and we build this community, beautiful, elegant dinner together,” Duffey said.
“Then, a few hours later, we take our things and we leave, and it’s like it never happened.”
First, there’s a strict dress code—all attire must be white.
Second: the $40 tickets (a portion of sales benefits Knight Park) are only sold in pairs, so a date is a must.
Thirdly, the location where the meal is to be held will be kept secret until the last possible moment.
A lot of these stipulations are part of the fun, however, Duffey said; an invitation to creative expression within the confines of the game.
“Some people, I’m sure, will come with baloney sandwiches, and that’s fine,” she said.
“There are some people who I’m positive will go to the nines with amuse-bouche. I’m sure there will be white Chuck Taylors and somebody in a white tux.”
Even when tickets are sold, guests aren’t informed of where to meet. Instead, they are grouped into zones by event organizers, and the zone leaders are told the time and location of the event.
At similar events, attendees usually carry their setup with them—tables, chairs, candelabras, etc. But Collingswood will be organizing truck drop-offs of the heavier things to allow guests to walk to the secret spot together with their zone buddies.
“We’re going to have staging sites throughout the town where people will be instructed to meet, and that’s where you’re going to walk together,” said volunteer coordinator Rob Lewandowski.
“You’ll know some of those people there and some of them you won’t,” he said. It’s a great thing for strengthening our bonds as a community.”
Lewandowski described the pop-up gala idea as “just another example of where Collingswood residents, volunteers and the government really look to make things extra special, to go that one step forward.
“How many couples really go out there and pack a picnic basket and have a romantic evening?” he said.
“In some ways, this pop-up gala is the invitation for couples—whether you’re husband-and-wife, husband-and-husband, best friends—to do that; to create something unique for yourself and share it under a common theme with 400 of your best friends.”
The idea of hosting an elegant party at an unknown location, “and the pleasure of finding that information out collectively,” offers the thrill of a shared secret, Lewandowski said.
Volunteers are still needed to support the event—so if you don’t see yourself going but still want to get there, the perks of zone leadership include “free tickets and the insider scoop on where it is,” Duffey said.
“It’s like anything else,” she said; “The best events are born
of people doing creative things and having great ideas and being invested.”
Want to help with the Pop-Up Gala? Contact Pam Ciervo to lend your services: email@example.com. And for more information, follow the event Facebook page.