Info 101: Art Basel is to an art show like Ridley Scott’s Alien is to an octopus. The mothership itself is the Miami Beach Convention Center, where 250 or so galleries entertain 50,000 visitors. The rest of the tentacles spread far and wide: there are about twenty satellite fairs, and a thousand, for lack of a better word, parasites. These include parties, meals, concerts, readings, and getties -- many of which simply feed of the host.
Clothing Tips: Black is the new black. If you want to be noticed at Art Basel, good luck. Everybody from all over the world will be wearing their coolest things; only the most secure of us will ignore the fashion sirens. During this week, we are all artists. Accessorize wisely and think, “I don’t always visit galleries, but when I do, I prefer to dress sharply.” Boots -- mandatory. Square shades! Raybans. Lock all your sports gear up at home unless it is something like a vintage Muhammad Ali tee. Chill on the high heels. Tattoos and porkpies are 2010. This is not the car show or boat show.
Swag Tips: Act like you’ve been there. Big camera, not small. Sport the Afghani Taliban/relief pitcher/House of David beard. Men - button up your shirt if you are not wearing a tee underneath. No faded denim, and god forbid -- no holes. Ethnicity is worshipped. European types -- think Scandinavia, thick rimmed glasses and if it’s cool -- wear a scarf. Gold chains no. Gold teeth okay. Deep facial plastic surgery? Since you may be the frequent buyers, of course, you are not only welcome, but to some degree, running the show. This is not the car show, boat show, or Super Bowl, though a bit like courtside at a Heat game these days.
Parking tip: Take a bike or pray.
Miami Rookie Destination Tips: Like American Werewolf in Miami -- Stick to the main road: Art Miami and its neighbors; the Design District; Wynwood Walls.
Miami Cognoscenti Destination Tips: Pulse, Context, Perez Art Museum Miami, and of course, venerable Art Miami.
Beach Novice Tips: Follow the leaders.
Beach Doyen Tips: NADA and Scope always keep it real. 1111 Lincoln Road, colette, and Alchemist.
Jury is Still Out Events: Brazil ArtFair, Tapas in the Moore Building
Food Tips for the Wealthy Stylish: Not necessary.
Food Tips for the Working Stylish: La Sandwicherie, Club Deuce, Panther, Salsa Fiesta, Buena Vista Deli, La Latina, Lagniappe, and a nondescript Peruvian, Jamaican, Haitian, or Cuban place with a coffee window as far from Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road, or Midtown as possible. Calle Ocho still mostly manages to keep it real.
Closing Thoughts: If you plan on going away for the week, rent your place with AirBnB. Hotels are full and prices astronomical. Otherwise, plan ahead, join hands, and get on the love train.