Can you feel it in the air yet? If you live here, it’s that time of the year in Miami you most likely either love or hate. Temperatures cool, snowbirds begin their descent, and the city’s collective social life gets so out of control that shared Google calendars, comprehensive spreadsheets, and aggressive guest-list emails are totally normal ways to plan outings with friends.
Large quantities of turkey have been consumed by now, which usually means it’s time to squeeze in as many cleansing and hibernation days as possible before Miami Art Week. Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a damper on many hallowed traditions in 2020, including the bacchanal that is Art Basel Miami Beach and its satellite events. Still, with bars and restaurants up and running, attractions open to the public, and no hint of new lockdowns in sight, the city appears to be attempting a hobbled stride toward its busiest season.
Of course, no Miami Art Week would be complete without the pop-up parties hosted by out-of-town cool kids hyped on making their mark in the madness, and, this year, one of those parties is making its long-awaited return in South Beach.
“Being an open-air, outdoor event series, summer would usually have been our busiest time of year,” says Tom Astley Williams, founder of Wicked Paradise
, the day-party series that’s made rounds in L.A., Miami, New York, and Chicago in years past. “We had 50 shows written off the books when COVID hit back in March.”
This Friday, December 5, at Hyde Beach marks the party’s official relaunch since the pandemic hit, offering those longing for the sweet poolside beats of Art Weeks past a familiar scene. Headlined by Los Angeles electronic duo Phantoms, with support from rising talent Boiish and local DJ Eran Hersh, the affair kicks off around sunset and the house music goes until late.
Organizers are striving for a socially distanced and safe outdoor event, with limited standing room and the majority of guests asked to remain seated at their designated cabanas or tables. Masks are required at all times except while drinking, and extra security will be onsite to ensure that all rules are adhered to.
“Security and safety come first at all our events, but especially during these trying times,” Williams assures.
Guests who don’t comply will be asked to leave.
While Phantoms — a duo composed of Los Angeles natives Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola — has remained busy over the last nine months, releasing a new EP, Moonlight
, and launching a popular virtual Sunday brunch party on Twitch called the Dive, Wicked Paradise will be the pair’s first IRL show since lockdowns began.
“While streaming a DJ set is fun, your crowd reactions are emoted in the chat. It’s not the same at all,” Kaplan says. “The traveling, getting stopped at customs, operating on three hours of sleep every night — it can be miserable or exhausting in the moment, but now we’d do anything to get that back.”
Having toured with the likes of Chromeo and Odesza, headlined a sold-out tour of their own, and played festivals like Electric Forest and Firefly, Phantoms’ appearance at Wicked Paradise’s Miami Art Week pop-up should make for a proper relaunch of the party.
“Obviously we’re trying to keep safe, but we can’t wait to just play music for people again,” says Pergola. “Miami is one of our favorite places in the world, so we're happy our first gig back gets to be there.”
To help get partiers in the mood — whether they’re attending in person or vibing out at home — Phantoms has teamed up with Wicked Paradise to release an exclusive hourlong DJ mix.
“We wanted to play a bunch of the music we’ve rediscovered or gotten into post-quarantine,” Pergola says.
Expect a healthy dose of pool-appropriate funk and disco, which the duo has been bumping especially hard these days.
“We also included some stuff we’re really excited about, like new TSHA, David Jackson, and WhoMadeWho,” Pergola adds.
For now, the only other city where Wicked Paradise remains active is in San Francisco, where it's successfully held a limited-capacity, outdoor, distanced sit-down soirée with Viceroy. Although Williams has had offers to run a few livestreams from their usual locales, he says he’d rather stay true to the party's irreverent outdoor pool-and-boat-party brand.
“We’ve had to stay patient and understand the severity of the pandemic,” he says. “It’s been a tough year, and people are thankful to have a safe outdoor environment to go and let loose for a small moment in time again.”
Wicked Paradise Art Week Pop-Up. With Phantoms, Boiish, and Eran Hersh. 5 p.m. Friday, December 4, at Hyde Beach at SLS South Beach, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Free with RSVP before 6 p.m., tickets cost $25 after via fevo.com.