It's Basel, Baby!

Aquabooty's promoters weren't taking a shot at art appreciation when they wrote "Fuck Art|Let's Dance" on a well-circulated flyer for their Saturday-night house party at the Marlin Bar. But in using the old New Wave mantra, they made an interesting observation. In its second year, Art Basel was as much about partying for art's sake as it was about the actual art.

After the blastoff shindig last Tuesday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, where wine, cheese, and Basel babes flowed like honey, the rest of the week was one big Basel blowout. We'll begin on Wednesday night at the Bass Museum of Art, where hundreds of sophisticatos sipped wine and discussed texture, hues, and perspective. Then just as things seemed to be getting snooty, performance artist Jasmine Kastel showed up in her Mexican wrestler El Santo-inspired "Montos 3000" getup, sequined mask and all, and wrestled a few unsuspecting guys to the ground. Meanwhile I discovered an unsigned piece that blew my mind, a plastic box with wiring and meters mounted on the wall. But to my chagrin, a security guard wondering why I'd spent twenty minutes fixated on a thermostat filled me in (hey, it was unlike any I'd ever seen). Across the street Chicks On Speed performed a free, neoned-out concert on the 21st Street sand. Some local IDM scenesters were there, like DJ Aura, Ivee Franco, and her pal, Phoenecia's Romulo del Castillo, who happened to agree (to the horror of his peers) that Art Basel is better than the Winter Music Conference. Why? "People dress better," he said.

Thursday night's block(s) parties throughout the DeDis and Wynwood proved that a celebration of intellect and creativity makes a fantastic marketing vehicle. Thousands who frolicked along NE 36th Street were treated to as many random images of Bacardi products as actual fine art. Free alcohol is a wonderful perk for a pseudo-interest in high culture. Enjoying the conglomeration was the Miami art scene's most Vogue-like first lady, Anna Maria Diaz-Balart. There's a girl people want to know more about, and not just because of her appearance in national publications.

Onward to South Bitch events that were more Art Deco than Art Basel. Grand central for A-listers was the Raleigh Hotel, especially Friday night at Patrick McMullan's So8os party. As expected, there was a big puff of smoke and then big shots appeared: Michael Capponi; WSVN-TV's Louis Aguirre, who said, "I'm not a star" (yes you are, Louis); Linda Marx, and Rudolf Piper. At the ultimate "it" table were Belkys Nerey and Ingrid Casares, both pulling off their usual tough chic, and they totally matched as best buds. Meanwhile next door at Studio in the Shelborne Beach Resort, MTV Rich Girl Ally Hilfiger sang horrid Madonna renditions with other spoiled Manhattan brats as she reportedly inflated the egos of average-looking girls by telling them they should model for her. What cruelty. Basel this, Ally!


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