We Went to Every Party at Art Basel Miami Beach & These Are the Best 10
Many moons ago, we came across this untranslatable proverb in Esperanto: “Navigante inter du aŭ tri arto partioj en sola tago estas formidable kapableco, sed tuj ĉiu unuopa partio ĉe Art Basel Miami Beach estas granda arto.” Now here’s what that means in English: “Navigating between two or three art parties in a single day is a formidable skill, but going to every single party at Art Basel Miami Beach is a high art.”
So, in the late fall of 2014, when we heard that Art Basel Miami Beach would be bigger and better than ever, and that UBER was finally coming to Miami, we jumped at the chance to make the finest work of art party coverage the world has ever seen [cue the evil laugh] — which just so happens to take the form of a listicle…or, if you will, a #Basellisticle.
That’s right. We sipped and dipped at Basel’s finest cocktail parties; we dined and dashed at Basel’s best dinners; we darted for doors at enough Baseliscious bashes to make Jonathan Cheban blush; and we hopped from pop-up club to pop-up club like two horny roommates from Saskatchewan who just so happened to be simultaneously turning twenty-one and throwing their joint bachelorette party down at Art Basel Miami Beach (tiaras not included).
Why did we do it, you ask? You know why. Because we love you, silly. And when you love someone as much as we love you, you want to serve them Art Basel Miami Beach, raw, on a gilded platter. #NoFilter. Straight from the party horse’s mouth, in as many words as the party horse decides to use, because you know that your beloved’s got nothing better to do than listen to you blab about parties. So relax and let us feed you 10 choice cuts of uncooked and super spicy steak tartArt Basel.
But hey — enough of our yakkin’ — let’s boogie!
1. Artsy Dance Party at the Moore Building
With one epic Chanel-powered bash on the beach at Soho House in 2012 Artsy was launched into the rarified upper echelon of #ABMBPTFTBRW (for those of you who may not be familiar with our ARTbreviations, that’s “Art Basel Miami Beach Party Throwing Force To Be Reckoned With”), long before they had even launched their website!
Now that the Artsy app is getting thumbed around in just about every place where art hangs — from the halls of the Louvre to the caves of Lascaux — the Artsy party has become the sort of event that can make your whole Art Basel in just one night. So it should come as no surprise that this year’s fête justified the trek down to Miami’s Moore Building.
As the intelligentsia fixed their gaze upon the dance performance choreographed by Shen Wei (whom the Washington Post has called “one of the great artists of our time”) and tech world elites debated whether Artsy’s founder Carter Cleveland is the “Jeff Bezos or the Steve Jobs of the Art world,” a handful of sexy plebes gawked at the likes of “Jessa from Girls!” (aka Jemima Kirke) and Ivanka Trump (who is “so nice and completely down to earth”) and asked questions like, “is that Theophilos guy actually from London or is it just a name?”
2. Miley at the Raleigh
While we’re on the topic of “greatest artists of our times,” we wish to deposit our two cents: Miley Cyrus. And those aren’t even cents — they’re not even words. They’re a Movement. We’re proud to declare that we’ve been on #TeamMiley since “Party in the USA” (and before that even, but one of us has insisted that we stop mentioning that because he’s been repeatedly warned that it sounds creepy for him to say that he was “really into Hannah Montana.”)
Let’s just put it this way: If one says that an artist has “killed it” when said artist puts on a good show, then one could call Miley’s performance, featuring Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne: “pure genocide.”
Some rude oligarch had the nerve to remove what looked like the wood-paneled Bentley of electronic cigarettes from his mouth to ask us the following question from behind a plume of bacon-flavored vapor: “Did you understand this? You look like you have fun, but I don’t think that you understand this.” And here’s how we responded, in unison (in Children of the Corn Voices): “No, sir. We didn’t. But neither did the first people who saw The Persistence of Memory? Yet they too had witnessed something sublime.”
3. Horse Meat Disco + Yabu Pushelberg in the Basement of the Edition Hotel
The Basement of the new Edition Hotel was the place to be at ABMB. Wait, before we go any further, we just want to clarify that by, “New Edition Hotel,” we don’t mean that Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, and Bobby Brown got the old group back together and started a hotel. Oh no. #CoolItNow.
The Edition — the venue for a whopping 30% of the parties on this list — is Ian Schrager’s new project. And his is a name that makes us say “ho-tell us more” because he just so happens to be the hotelier who put South Beach on the map of greatest hotels in the world (such a map does in fact exist, and we’d love nothing more than to link to it and submit if for your review, but it’s actually only available in a single physical copy that’s kept under lock and key in a vault in Lausanne) with his launch of the renovated Delano in 1994. So it t’was a bit of high drama with him coming back to town and going fête-a-fête with his O.G. Grand Budapest, which had some exclaiming, “oh DelaNO he didn’t!” We haven’t experienced Schrager drama like this since over 10 years ago when he teamed up with artist Julian Schnabel to launch the Gramercy Park Hotel like ten blocks away from his original hotel with the Morgans Hotel Group. And he pulled out all the stops with this one. It’s got a bowling alley. But we said all the stops. This hotel, in Miami, has an ice-skating rink. That’s the sort of move that might prompt Andre 3000 (whose OutKast tour jumpsuits were on display just a few blocks away): to ask: “What’s cooler than cool?” And respond: “Ice Skating in Miami.”
But back to the Basement. It’s the diametric opposite of Rose Bar. This place is gritty, and flashy, and dingy, and dark. Very dark. Did we say sexy? No, we did not just say, “sexy.” But that’s illustrative, for this is a place that perfectly captures that sort of “I’m not exactly sure what’s going on but I’m having so much fun and may have just whispered the word ‘sexy’” sort of vibe. It’s apparent that Schrager really dug deep into his formidable oeuvre of canonical east coast clubs to cook up this one. Long before the Gramercy, before the Delano, before the Last Days of Disco, Schrager, alongside Steve Rubell (his soon to be partner in Studio 54), opened a disco in Douglaston, Queens called “Enchanted Garden.” Of course we’ve never been there! We weren’t born. Heck, we’re not even sure if Steve Lewis has ever been there! Yet, for some reason, a space as raw and amazing as this Basement somehow nevertheless brings to mind all those enchanted disco infernos of yesteryear.
And the space and the crowd was brought to a salt-sprinkled boil by Horse Meat Disco. “Ebullient.” That word literally means “boiling over.” It’s an important concept for the medieval mystic, Meister Eckhart. And it’s the perfect word for expressing the primal fecundity of pure orgiastic abandon experienced in this blessed basement.
4. Snarkitecture + Alchemist + Alfa Romeo at 1111 Lincoln Road
At the end of Lincoln Road — or at the start of it, depending on which way you’re facing and perhaps whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist — stands 1111 Lincoln Road, a masterpiece by Herzog & de Meuron. Yes, it’s a parking garage. But let us question you thusly: were it not a parking garage, would you have as much fun making fun of all those philistines who don’t seem to “get” its status as an iconic building? We dare say: no.
But now we can’t help but suspect that you wish to question us thusly: dearest Felicity and Mark, amidst all the pedantry and posturing that undoubtedly permeates the architecturally exceptional parking spots of the plutocracy, could it really be a fun party? A fine question. A fair question. And here’s your answer: beeb beeb, beep beep, yea!!!
Especially when the party is being thrown by Snarkitecture — the project of Alex Mustonen and art world wunderkind, Daniel Arsham — and features massive NBA Hoops Basketball Arcade Machines (a project called AIRBALL) and truckloads of appetizers the were — from what our eyes, noses, and taste buds were telling us — bomb ass Bosco Sticks.
5. Roger Vivier at the Edition
If there were a French expression for expressing the cheerful enjoyment of a fashionable life, it would be: Joie de Vivier!
While some revelers cling to the position that parties and lovemaking are best enjoyed when it’s dark, we say, “lighten up! It’s so much fun to do it in the daytime!” That’s our pervy way of declaring that this was the best daytime party at Art Basel this year.
We sipped sinfully potent cocktails that made it all but impossible for our lushy American tongues to pronounce the names of our hosts, Ines de la Fressange and Ambra Medda.
Translation: pure Joie de Vivier!
6. Nordstrom Dinner at the Standard Hotel
We laughed so hard during this waterfront dinner, and cracked so many silly jokes about the fleet of drones Nordstrom had hired to capture our festive faces — “that one’s married to a roomba!”; “That one’s last job was delivering pizza!” “That one’s momma was a snowblower” — that we almost forgot to eat. Which was unfortunate because all the grub was off the chain — from the burrata to the branzino.
And just when we thought our night was all about food, folks and drones, Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim, architect of the “pop-in” store at the Standard, announced that we were about to munch on some serious swag! Nordstrom had arranged for a raffle! Mark won a bright blue french press. Felicity won DJ equipment, and therefore will likely be a DJ by next year’s ABMB. And then the big celebrity sitting next to us (who begged us not to reveal her identity) won a freaking kayak. #SoJelly.
7. Moschino Party at the Thompson Hotel
Here’s the Miami party truth that no one likes to admit: Down here, Paris Hilton is a great DJ. Especially when she’s inside a Moschino-designed Barbie house. Let’s just say she was in her element.
But this party, we must concede, did not feel like it was set in vintage Miami. It channeled some hauntingly auspicious Miami-of-the-future vibe — the Miami of Herzog and De Muren, Zaha Hadid, the Faema Art Center, that New Institute of Contemporary Art, etc., etc., unabbreviated etcetera. If we had to represent that not-too-distant land geographically, we’d plop it somewhere betwixt Havana and Milano.
8. Visionaire 64 ART + John Baldessari at the Edition
Ain’t no party like a selfie party. With John Baldessari. It’s the sort of party you don’t even have to describe, and you can just drop celebrity selfie name bombs like a Samsung B-52, son: James Franco, Gisele Bündchen, Neil Patrick Harris, Drake, Lupita Nyong’o, and Marina Abramovic.
9. Triangle Walks at the Delano
The Delano’s backyard — from Bianca to the Beach — is about as long as a football field. Or at least that what it feels like when hotel security is hot on your tail chasing you away from the pool that’s for “guests only” (not that that’s ever happened to a certain Hannah Montana fan). So when you throw a party in that large a space, it tends to feel relaxed and restrained, even if hundreds of people are sipping some new cognac next to Philippe Starck’s oversized flower pots. In other words, it’s the perfect spot for a pre-party that requires the appreciation of art that generates stimulating thoughts.
And on the level of thought-stimulation, this party was a cut above the rest. For the occasion, a fully restored house, designed by modernist architect, Jean Prouvé (whose pièce de pre-fab résistance, Maison Tropicale, Andre Balazs purchased in 2007), was constructed on the grounds of the Delano’s garden. Inside the house, we discovered Bally’s “Function and Modernity” exhibition, which showcased the artwork of the French art due, Kolkoz, the Brooklyn-based artist, Zak Kitnick, and celebrated the worlds of Swiss and French modernist architects and designers in Bally’s private collection (Robert Mallet-Stevens, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret).
We were so deeply engaged in exhilarating discourse that we barely noticed that the party was being DJed by Harley Viera Newton, and our little modernist house on the Delano prairie was, literally, rocking with celebrities.
10. Le Baron Ten Year Anniversary at the Delano (FRD)
Ten years in and Le Baron’s pop-up game is stronger than ever. We’d give them a perfect 10 if it weren’t more appropriate to hand out a Mr. A.
After a couple of years of nomadically roving between an assortment of clubs, it was nice to see Le Baron back at what we view as its rightful temporary home at the Delano’s Florida Room (aka FDR). This low-ceilinged, nooky space just makes more sense for Le Baron’s aesthetic and vibe than some of the massive Miami venues where it has, de temps en temps, popped up over the years (club in point: Nikki Beach in 2012).
The veteran crew ran this show like a well oiled white glove machine. Fresh off his road trip down from New York City, doorman extraordinaire, Julio Montero, managed the teeming crowds at the 17th Street entrance with the grace of Chopin conducting a nocturne.
Inside, the beats (frequently spun by the very hands connected to the very shoulders connected to the very mohawked tête of the head of the Tête D’Affiche transcontinental DJ mafia program, Greg Boust) were energizing and sexifyingly jouissance-inducing, yet they maintained just enough avant-garde edge to remind revelers that art just so happens to be the reason for this party season.