Art Basel Miami is a celebrity playground, but spotting A-listers can be tough. They're usually partying behind five yards of velvet rope at some luxurious invite-only hotel lounge with a name you're not entirely sure how to pronounce. You, the average Miamian, are encouraged to enjoy Art Basel, but you're not actually allowed in.
Or you could just do like Gabriel Union and Tyson Beckford and head to 305 Films' annual Vibes, the hip-hop/reggae/fish fry/block party spectacular where everyone is welcome.
“I just got sick of the party scene that Miami was becoming,” says organizer and film director Gil Green, “the whole South Beach, poppin' bottles, sparklers, everyone just staring and looking at each other but no one really having fun.”
Green and his team at 305 Films are responsible for the Miami Heat's intro clips and just about every Miami music video you've ever loved, from DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, and more. He came up in the directing game with the reputation of being the white dude who got “crunk.” You can trust him when he says he knows a good time.
“I wanted to create a party that was around a time of creativity, like Art Basel, in the heart of Wynwood, where our offices are at, and make it a party that's not about the same routines and South Beach pretentiousness,” he says. “There's no VIP. There's no guest list. Drinks are like $2, so people have fun. The DJs can play whatever they want. It's not the same 20 songs but a mix of all types of music – and it started out as a fish fry, so people get their food, and because it's Art Basel, we always showcase some art.”
Last year, Green wrapped an old-school Chevy in portraits of Khaled, Ross, Trick Daddy, Trina, and Uncle Luke made from thousands of tiny frames from their music videos he directed. The year before that, he converted a giant cargo trailer into an interactive, sensory-overload Miami Heat experience.
This year, Green is bringing six artists in to collaborate on one giant project starring Dwyane Wade's Li-Ning shoes. It begins when Li-Ning supplies sculptor Freehand Profit, who will, in his usual fashion, tear up a perfectly good pair of sneakers and turn them into incredible masks.
Those masks will then be transformed by other artists who will fashion them into a statement on their interpretation of hip-hop culture. Green will make a film component to tie it all together, while photographers Jonathon Mannion, Fred Love, and more will bring their own eye to the project. Bruno Dede of Metrowrapz will wrap another donk in the same pattern as the Li-Ning shoes, and thus, the art will be everywhere.
“It'll be really cool to see all of these masks, seeing each artist and what it represents to them,” Green says. “You're going to get completely different meanings from each person, and it's going to be really interesting to see that all together.”
Music will keep the party moving with sets from Tom La Roc, LS One, Dutty Dex, and Stone Love. The event is hosted every year by 99 Jamz DJ and personality Felisha Monet, who should be no stranger to anyone who listens to Miami rap radio. Green also promises exciting secret musical guests, but this is not a party about the headliners and the superfamous — it's about getting down on a dance floor that's an even level for all.
“It's basically a mixture of people who just want to have fun,” Green says. “There's no VIP section, so [celebrities] have got to be with the rest of the people, and they're just having fun too.”
Sips from official sponsor Guinness will be flowing for mad cheap, and there will be fish, Jerk Hut offerings, and other food-truck fare. Cover is a $15 donation, “cheaper than parking,” as Green says, which grants you access as well as a raffle ticket for a chance to win a spot on the Damian Marley Jam Rock Cruise. Even better, all proceeds go directly to funding the 305 Film Summer Camp launching in 2016. Green and his team will take kids from Miami's inner city and give them a hands-on experience on a real set, giving them a strong résumé-builder and an edge in the college application race.
“We want kids to be exposed to how it's not just about directing or the artist,” Green says. “We're teaching by collectively making a high-production music video where they can shadow the top-of-the-top professionals, really show them how it's done, and actually be able to participate in the creative process.”
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Thanks again to help from its sponsors, Vibes' fourth year will be an all-night experience bigger and badder than ever.
“Last year, there were probably more people outside of our party that couldn't get in than were actually inside, and our place is pretty huge,” Green says. “This year, we actually opened it up to the whole block, so we'll double the amount of people.”
You can eat, drink, dance, selfie, and explore your way through the 305 Films' Toe Jam Backlot office turned gallery space, all while making a difference in the lives of real Miami kids. You never know who you might see, and you might get to take a fuckin' cruise. You can keep your lofty gallery Champagne, one percenters. This is how Miami Basels on a budget.
305 Films and Guiness Present Vibes Art Basel. Friday, December 4, at the Toe Jam Backlot, 150 NW 21st St., Wynwood. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are a minimum $15 donation to the 305 Film Summer Camp. A spot can be guaranteed by purchasing a presale ticket online via vibes305.com.