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Looking Back on Art Basel 2013: A Virgin Shares Her Observations

January 3, 2014 at 2:31 PM | by | ()

Art Basel happened last month and it's taken our resident (Culture) Club Kid Brandy Alxander, and Art Basel Virgin, a while to process all that she saw and did. (Also, we kinda forgot about it in the holiday mix.) Nevertheless, here are some useful observations and tips to keep in mind for next year.

Every year for a week in December, Miami transforms into a city full of galleries and open bars for Art Basel. Thousands of artists and art enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the city, home to the U.S. branch of Art Basel since 2002. The art show originated in Basel, Switzerland in 1970, and last May, Art Basel expanded to Hong Kong.

After I was publicly shamed for not knowing what Art Basel was (I just moved here a few months ago from Vegas), I decided to venture into South Beach and check out the Basel bacchanal. Here's what I learned:

Everyone is hot, even the weird ones
Miami is always full of beautiful people, and Art Basel is no exception. It’s some of the best people watching we’ve ever experienced, and we’ve been to Downtown Las Vegas. Everywhere we went, we saw similar types of sexy people: Supermodels on Vespas. Beardy hipsters wearing shorts with blazers. Men in red or yellow trousers with black loafers (no socks, of course). Clusters of designer jeans and freakum dresses.

The only downside to being surrounded by perfect weather and perfect looking people? The pretentious attitude that comes along with it. Pick your parties carefully, or you’ll risk running into a bunch of snobs.

Hotels get artsy-er
You know how Las Vegas plasters their celebrity headliners all over their buildings? Well, South Beach does something similar during Art Basel, just less tacky. Instead of Donnie and Marie Osmond’s faces, you’ll see funky eclectic murals, like The Gale Hotel’s punk rock Mona Lisa and The Catalina’s wacky Greg Mike painting. Some hotels will even house free art exhibits, like The Catalina’s Select Fair and Sense Beach House’s The Art of Barbie photography collection. The Freehand Miami even converted one of its hotel rooms into a pop up art shop, with handmade lingerie hanging from the ceiling and provocative photography for sale.

Parking and Traffic are Terrible
The parking and traffic in Miami Beach are terrible year-round, but during Art Basel don’t even bother with driving yourself around if you don’t have to. Travel on foot, scooter or by cab if you can. This HotelChatterer learned the hard way that the ongoing construction, non-existence of parking spots and influx of Art Basel attendees make for a bad drive around South Beach.

Your favorite bar/restaurant is probably closed for a private event or at max capacity
We were bummed to hear our favorite happy hour spot in South Beach, Katsuya at SLS, was closed for a private event. Instead, we munched on some awesome burgers at Shake Shack on Lincoln Road. Surprisingly, no Basel hipsters there!

There’s a party for every kind of mood
We have to confess, we went to South Beach more for the parties than the art. From Hyde Beach’s wild champagne showers, to The Broken Shaker’s chic and subdued fete, we loved that there was an event that catered to every type of party personality. With an open bar nearly everywhere we went, it was a lot easier to forget about all about the pretentious people around.

[Photo: BrandyAlxander for HotelChatter]

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