That Time I Was the Least Cool Kid at Art Basel’s Least Cool Party

Art Basel
People finally arrived!

It was a dark and stormy night. No really, it was raining cat and dogs in Miami, and there is no way in hell anything could have dragged me out of my cosy, candlelit apartment other than something epic, like a Springsteen concert or … an invite to a really hip Art Basel Party in a new, billion-dollar Miami Beach venue.

Well, The Boss was nowhere near the artsy madness that defines Basel (smart man), and so it was the party — the party to end all parties, I had been told — that got me gussied up and ready to roll. Here’s the thing, Art Basel is known for its art exhibitions, but really, it’s all about the parties. And the celebrities. Though neither is really my scene (note: lack of appropriate wardrobe), I thought I’d take advantage of the invite and check it out. Plus I had intel that Brad and Angelina were going to be there.

As visions of free cocktails danced through my head, I ordered my Uber car. My driver and I were getting along swimmingly when I told him sometimes I feared for my life when I was driving in Miami (because people drive like Mario Andretti only without using turn signals — which I didn’t think I needed to spell the out to the guy). Apparently, I should have, because that’s when he declared:

“Oh, I don’t get scared that people will start with me. I carry a gun.”

Me (feigning calm): You do?

Him: Heck, there’s three guns in the car right now.

Me (feigning normalcy): There are?

Him: Sure. One’s concealed; I have a license. Let me tell you, you’re safe with me.


Me (out loud): Isn’t that nice?

At exactly this moment we arrived at my destination, the Faena Hotel. Quicker than you could say, “Heck, there’s three guns in the car right now,” I jumped out of the vehicle and onto the red carpet. Safe under an overhang, I barely noticed the teeming rain, I was so overcome with relief. Then as I looked around, I grew awed by the crowd.

A gaggle of people in gorgeous clothes surrounded me — I mean seriously, they simply dazzled. I felt like I had stumbled upon the red carpet at the Met Gala ball, and I was all, “Damn, this is some sexy business I got myself involved with.”

I tried to blend in with the couture, while wearing my 2-years-out-of-fashion Nordstrom Rack dress and sandals. I thought I was doing a fine job of being ignored by everyone, until I tried to cross the velvet ropes. Two hulking menaces in black suits (were those suits couture too? Geez!) and wearing earpieces clotheslined me before I could pass.

“Where are you trying to go?” the wanted to know. Apparently one of these kids was obviously not like the other kids.

I fumbled. “I’m media, I’m with the press.” I told them the name of the party I was trying to attend and they shook their heads.

“This is a different party. This is Cartier.”

Of course it was.

“You have to go around the corner of the building and enter through the side door.”

All three of us looked in the the direction of the side door, which unfortunately lay a half block beyond the confines of the overhang. Rain pounded the pavement. I stared at them. They stared back. Did they look even a wee bit sorry? Not sorry enough to let me cut through the hotel.

I darted into the rain, looking in both directions in case Noah’s Ark were to float by and give me a ride. But alas, no such Biblical luck. In the three seconds it took me to burst through the door of my party, I was drenched to the bone — nay, to the marrow.

I sloshed into the entryway, a puddle forming at my feet. My once-coiffed hair lay plastered to my scalp. The people working the door looked utterly horrified. “I need a bathroom please,” I said with what I hoped was a degree of nonchalance.

“Yes you do,” someone helpfully agreed, and pointed me toward the loo. In the privacy of the bathroom I sopped up what I could with paper towels, and slicked my hair into what I hoped was a chic bun (ha!). I gathered myself and returned to the entrance to get my bearings.

Somehow it took me until that very moment to realize I was the only. Person. At. The. Party.

Seriously. The people I had seen milling about worked there. No one who didn’t have to be there was there. Except me.

Well aware that I left my dignity somewhere in a puddle on the street, I sauntered into the theater where the alleged party was to be held. The room sprawled before me, empty except for a DJ on the stage who was spinning absolutely no music. In fact, the room was dead silent. Little banquette tables were set up with twinkling candles, and two bartenders stood behind a bar looking rather hopefully at me.

Excellent! I needed a drink. Preferably a strong one. Alas, they only served water or Stella Artois. Come on now! Even Basel’s tiniest art gallery exhibitions cough up a box of white wine during Basel. I decided to settle into a banquette table, sans beverage, and wait to see what — if anything might unfold.

Within a few moments, I noticed two photographers had arrived, looking around feverishly for who or what to photograph. Of course, their options were an empty room, two bored bartenders, a DJ who wasn’t DJing, or me…alone at a table with rain-soaked hair.

CLICK! CLICK! A blinding flash shone in my direction. One of the photogs had glided past me, snapping away.

I burst out laughing. I shrugged at him and chuckled, as if to say, “Hey, thanks but, we both know this photo of me is not gonna sell.” He smiled back, then pointed at his camera screen. He was, he indicated, only testing the flash.

That was the moment I decided to call it a night.

Except I couldn’t get home! Uber prices had skyrocketed because of demand, taxis were nowhere to be found, and a woman I met on the street while trying to hail a cab told me, “You deserve a good night! You deserve to have fun! Go back into that party!”

So I did, and this time, I ordered a Stella. And by now, a smattering of other people had arrived — maybe 20 other people. they looked as perplexed as I did, only they somehow had managed to arrive looking dry and stylish. The DJ began spinning a tune. A person on roller skates whizzed past — entertainment, apparently — and was completely ignored by the smattering of people now present.

That, friends, was truly the moment I decided that if I had to hail Noah and his damn Ark, I would get the hell out of dodge and back into my pajamas in my cozy, candlelit apartment.


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