Every December the entire international art world touches down at Miami International Airport for Art Basel Miami Beach. It asks itself: art or party? Party always wins out. For one week, the whole city is alight with booming bass and dancing lasers in addition to Art Basel events, installations and hundreds of top galleries; festivities include the invite-only Art Basel Public Opening Night bash on December 2. If you think you can handle the hangover, kick off at one of the city’s best bars before heading to our pick of the parties to hit during Art Basel Miami 2015.
RECOMMENDED: See our full guide to Art Basel Miami Beach
Best Art Basel Miami 2015 parties
Le Baron at the Delano
Scores of sweating, pulsating bodies rocked the basement of the FDR at Delano lounge for the famed Parisian pop-up party last year. Le Baron’s artistic director, DJ Greg Boust, got our foreheads sweaty as Chromeo’s David Macklovitch bobbed by his side. To get to this mecca of coolness, follow the folks in the most extreme fashion get-ups into the subterranean fete. You could get stuck at the door if you’re not one of the privileged names on the list, but once inside the glamorous cave, you’ll quickly get used to striking a pose, saying: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Dec 1–5; 11pm.
Poplife Presents Baby’s All Basel
From Williamsburg to (likely) Wynwood, the popular Brooklyn venue and eatery Baby’s All Right is joining forces with Miami’s slickest, long-running nightlife promoters, Poplife, for a Baby’s All Basel party. At this writing, the organizers haven’t yet announced where this incredible marriage made in sonic heaven will throw down or what fabulous acts will grace their stage, but the surprise is part of the fun. Sign up for the e-list to hear about it first, and let the treasure hunt begin! Locations TBA. Dec 2–6.
Look Alive Fest with Silver Apples and Wolf Eyes
Every once in awhile, something really special and experimental in music, something that requires a good set of earplugs and discerning tastes, happens during Art Basel week. And it’s usually at Churchill’s Pub. This year, the Little Haiti pub-cum-punk venue is hosting Look Alive Fest, presented by Quiet Mind Recordings. The mind-blowing lineup includes the psych and synths of Silver Apples, the absolute noise insanity of Wolf Eyes, the ethereal bleeps of Eartheater, guitarist Ava Mendoza, and drummer GDFX. A few locals are peppered into the bill, like Miami’s godfather of noise music Rat Bastard, Treasure Teeth, Snakehole, and Other Body. So if you’re wondering what happened to the weirdo cool kids from your high school, they’re looking alive at Churchill’s. Dec 4, 9pm; $15–$18.
Quintron and Dum Dum Girls at Gramps
In the heart of the Wynwood Arts District is a little slice of old Miami heaven. At retro-cool bar-performance hub Gramps, there’s no shortage of fun-time party people or quality musical acts every night of Basel. More information is soon to be announced, but so far, we suggest you catch New Orleans sonic genius Quintron with Miss Pussycat and her demented homemade puppets on Friday night, performing alongside the industrial duo Youth Code. Thursday is another don’t-miss, with a lineup of Zoo Music all stars, including the Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles, and Flowers of Evil. 176 NW 24 St between NW 2nd and N Miami Aves, Miami. Dec 1–5; 10pm.
Jamie xx, Richie Hawtin, A$AP Rocky and more at Mana
The folks behind new music, art and tech fest III Points and London-based label Young Turks have curated a sick lineup to pack the massive Mana venue in the middle of Wynwood. Expect to get lit with a Life & Death X PLOT & III showcase presenting Tale of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker and even old-school techno stalwart Richie Hawtin on December 3. The following night, embrace some dreamy feelings with Jamie xx and zone out on Four Tet. Rapper A$AP Rocky headlines on the 5th. Down the street at the former RC Cola Plant, III Points is collaborating with the Bushwick Collective to showcase 50 artists, skateboarders, DJs and live music. Mana Wynwood, 318 NE 23 St between NW 2nd and 5th Aves, Miami. Dec 3–5; 10pm.
Trans-Pecos at Satellite Art Fair
No devoted music fan who’s ever lived in New York is unaware of the talents of promoter Todd P, the party meister behind Ridgewood, Queens art-and-music space, Trans-Pecos. This December, he and his crew are working with Zs tenor saxophonist and composer Sam Hillmer to create the musical lineup at the newest, off-the-beaten path (and aptly named) art fair, Satellite. These arbiters of sonic taste, along with hip gallerists, will fill oddball spaces like SurfMed Pharmacy on Collins Avenue, a parking garage and the North Beach Bandshell with incredibly significant musician-artists. The long list of acts includes L.A. DJ Total Freedom, his label mate Kingdom, and Miho Hatori from Cibo Matto. Pussy Riot will be showing art in a group show called Recycling Religion, so you never know who might hit the stage. Various locations including the Deauville Beach Resort. Dec 1–6.
Fuck Art, Let’s Dance
After a few days of intense Art Baseling, you’ll likely be shouting the name of this party at the top of your lungs. The third annual Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, at The Electric Pickle Company, will feature music by Miami Players Club, Hercules and Love Affair’s Kim Ann Foxman, and Whatever/Whatever’s Justin Strauss—a man whose party pedigree will be unmatched by anyone else in town that week. Miami funk band Psychic Mirrors will also perform a live set and ambient folk metal act Beru will premiere heralbum, Adult Emotions—which is sure to become the title of your Basel 2015 memoir. She’s there as part of the fourth edition of Light Sourced, a project that lets 10 artists create crazy visuals to accompany the music using projectors throughout the venue, gif-party style. Dec 3; 10pm.
Photograph: James Holbrook
Slap & Tickle, Connan Mockasin, and Avey Tare at Bardot
Chromeo’s David “Dave 1” Macklovitch is certain to rock the world of any girl, needy or otherwise, when he hits the decks as part of long-running Miami dance party Slap & Tickle. Just one of many on the Art Basel week roster at Bardot, the Canadian superstar will be kicking off days of intense dance partying with his usual brand of pizzazz and attitude. On the 3rd, catch the groovy and incredibly weird Connan Mockasin, and on the 4th get spacey with Avey Tare of Animal Collective. Dec 1, 3, 4; 10pm.
Erick Morillo at LIV
If you’ve never seen Erick Morillo spinning for 12 hours straight, you’ve never really partied in Miami. Morillo is most famous for the song “I Like to Move It,” under the moniker Reel 2 Real. But since that 1993 hit, the Colombian-American DJ has relaunched his label as the more DJ-centric Subliminal Records, and whipped countless crowds worldwide into frenzies with true-to-the-bone house music. This year, he’ll be packing bodies into the celeb-heavy megaclub LIV inside the classic Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. Dec 5.
Slick Rick at Blackbird Ordinary
“Once upon a time not long ago,” sang Slick Rick in his classic rap “Children’s Story,” which was written very long ago (1988 to be precise). The Get Fresh Crew rapper penned some of the most influential hip-hop songs of all time, like “Mona Lisa” and “La-Di-Da-Di.” Slick Rick is heading to Blackbird Ordinary in his trademark Ray-Bans to bust out an array of his crazy voices. One of the hippest spots on Brickell, Blackbird caters to an attractive crowd of cocktail fans who like to get a little wild every once in awhile. This is one free show that you’d probably have been happy to pay for. Dec 5; 10pm.