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July 19, 2017

Didn't make the Dîner en Blanc Philly cut? Check out this 'inclusive' bicycling party

One of the sad truths of this Philadelphia life is knowing that everybody who wants to attend the annual Dîner en Blanc event cannot do so.

This is just the reality of the situation when an August 17 event with a largest! ever! maximum capacity of 5,200 at a mystery! location! boasts of a wait list of an additional 43,000 public-dining aspirants.

Previous years have offered events like Diner en Noir and Diner en Sweatpants for those frozen out of the chance to light sparklers in a public setting with gaggles of others dressed in white from head to toe.

This week, I learned of a new event scheduled for the same night as the prestigious gathering. Philadelphia, meet Cycle en Couleur (CeC), an event that will bring together people wearing “whatever color you’d like” on bicycles.

They will meet at the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps at 7 p.m. that evening – where the last DEB Philly was held! – and ride off at 8 p.m. along a mystery route “to a super-secret location!”

Several hundred people have already expressed interest in attending the inaugural event organized by Alexandria Schneider and Maria Serrahima.

The pitch on the Facebook event page is such:

“Didn’t get invited to Diner en Blanc? Don’t feel like buying white clothes just for a meal? Don’t have a spare table and chairs to eat outdoors? Cycle en Couleur (CeC) is a spring fling in late summer, and unlike other events, we want to see a rainbow while we ride! … No invitations. All the color. Ride the Rainbow.”

Oh, the shade!

Schneider, aka the “Queen of Philly’s Mass Rides," credits Serrahima, organizer of the Philly Naked Bike Ride, for putting this inspired idea in motion.

"The inspiration for our event came from a few places. The biggest, though, was the desire to throw an inclusive and fun event for all,” Schneider told PhillyVoice on Tuesday. 

“DeB, as portrayed in the media and in comments, comes off as elitist," she continued. “While we don't know that they are, we wanted to do something inclusive, that celebrates the homegrown spirit of Philadelphia.”

Photo courtesy/Hana Elum

Bicyclists planning to meet at the Art Museum steps for the August 2016 'Full Moon Ride' had to muster in a different location after Diner en Blanc took over their scheduled spot.

Though this will be the first Cycle en Couleur, the two camps did clash on the night of last year’s event. It turned out that bicyclists participating in the monthly Philly Full Moon Ride were scheduled to meet up at the Art Museum around the same time DeB announced its super-secret location.

"DeB, as portrayed in the media and in comments, comes off as elitist. While we don't know that they are, we wanted to do something inclusive." – Alexandria Schneider

There was even talk of DeB security involvement. Uh oh!

“The starting point was rerouted for the Full Moon Bike Ride. Obviously, it was a surprise when riders started to show up for one of the largest monthly rides and couldn't access the normal meeting point,” Serrahima shared. “The area was overtaken with buses and security, and people felt a loss of accessibility to a public space.”

Bygones and whatnot, it’s highly unlikely that the DeB folks will shut off the area in front of a world-famous museum from public access two years in a row. 

The CeC organizers are merely looking forward to a fun evening of pedaling to their own oasis.

“We just want to have a fun ride through the city, with cyclists dressed in a riot of color,” Schneider said. “We want to celebrate Philly, cycling culture and community. We're actually debating encouraging picnics and seeing if we can get food trucks at the ending point!”

If you want to more information for a free event that doesn’t have a waiting list of any sort, check out CeC on Facebook and Twitter.