Art 101

How to Sneak Into Parties During Art Basel Miami Beach

How to Sneak Into Parties During Art Basel Miami Beach
The swarming crowd at a typical party during Art Basel Miami Beach

For our coverage of previous fairs, we at Artspace have enlisted our esteemed colleagues in the art world to provide useful advice on coping with some of the more intractable conundrums encountered at these intensely social events, weighing in on such topics as what not to do at an art fair and when to start drinking at an art fair. Now, we have set out to tackle what might be the most vexatious quandary of them all: making it into any soiree without an invite. 

At one point or another, no matter how well-connected your are or how many VIP cards you wield, you will encounter a Miami party that, for some ungodly reason, you can't get into—and that you must get into, for the sake of a client, an object of affection, an assignment, or a whim. How do you sneak into that party? Here is some expert advice from a few pros who know a trick or two for limboing past the velvet rope.

"– Act the part. Dress accordingly for the event you're trying to get into and prove that you belong there without being too pushy.
– Show up alone. You'll significantly decrease your chances of getting into a party if you arrive with a large group, and the person working the door is more likely to let you in if you're solo.
– Be polite. The more you annoy the person at the door, the more likely you'll be left outside standing in the Miami heat." – Ann Binlotart and fashion writer and party-goer extraordinaire 

"How to get into a party when you're not on the list? I always just give my name, Larry Gagosian. And then I always seem to be on the list."– Daniel Kunitz, editor-in-chief of Modern Painters magazine

"I've never had a problem getting in a party. I think it helps being pretty ;) Trying to get a plus-one in, however, is a different story. I can suggest to gentlemen who are desperately trying to get into a party to bring their hot friends, and they will have an easier time making it through the door. Basic party rules. As a last resort, one time I saw a friend tip a bouncer $200 to get into a Le Baron party."  –Amelia Abdullahsani, co-founder of Lu Magnus gallery

"As a rule, I just can't be bothered to crash parties now. But if you have to?
– Being friends with Nadine Johnson, Sara Fitzmaurice, etc is good.
– Knowing doormen or club managers by name? Even more effective.
– Spontaneous entourage-joining. Hang back, not at the door, then hit the true-player's slipstream before everyone else tries to.
– Say you're Klaus Biesenbach's +1, and pray to God you don't get busted, especially by him." — A veteran art-world party-hopper who prefers to remain anonymous

"Blind them with sequins. Everyone loves shiny happy people." Helen Toomer, director of the Collective Design Fair

"I don't do the whole nightlife thing. It doesn't add anything for me, neither in terms of my social connections nor in terms of access to information. My nightlife thing consists of private one-on-one drinks or dinners with gallerists where we can speak in a detailed, prolonged way about art and do business in a more humane fashion. After that, I'm on a stool at the counter of Mac's Club Deuce every evening." Todd Levin, Levin Art Group advisory

"Back in the day, I would look for weak spots in a party's defenses. I have on more than one occasion bum-rushed a fern at the Raleigh. Hot chicks help too, of course (at least, so I am told). But my secret weapon was this guy Stu. Stu could get into any party. These days I can get into most of the parties I really need to be at, and that pretty much fills my time.  But I am also now occasionally on the other end of the problem—so I'm setting up a secret code word to ensure my friends can get into the PULSE after-party at the Shore Club this year. But when all else fails, I now just resort to marching right in like I know what I'm doing, and am totally deaf. Cornell DeWitt, outgoing director of the PULSE Art Fair

"Hmm.... a simple tip... when sneaking in, never go for the person who is the head of development to check you in. You might think they have your back because you know them and have a history, but these people are always the biggest sticklers. If all else fails, say you feel itchy, start scratching yourself, and then wait for everyone to leave because they are afraid of bedbugs." Ellie Rines, agent provocateur and owner of the new 55 Gansevoort gallery

"I don't think there is ever a party I need to get into that bad ;)" Frederick Janka, associate director of SculptureCenter

"Jedi mind tricks, of course." –Elana Rubenfeld, independent art consultant

"In my old age, and after doing this for 9 years, I realize that no party is that important that one has to lose one’s dignity to try to get in to, so I just walk away with my chin held high." – Eric Shiner, Warhol Museum director 

"1. Dress up as Harry Brant or Marina Abramovic.
2. Ask a journalist friend in advance for one of his company's 'press cards,' which are (at least in my experience) kept in bulk, blank, and easily filled out. Barring that, hit up a Kinko's and make your own.
3. Always claim that you definitely, 110-percent RSVP'ed, and even know that you FOR SURE received a confirmation from Sarah—or maybe it was Sara without an 'h'?—then hope that someone squeezes you in as you scroll through your iPhone's inbox. This probably works even better if you do it all with some undefined, vaguely French accent.
4. Desperation is unattractive. Even if you're approaching the door for what is, by all reports, the Hottest, most Coveted, Can't-Miss-It-for-the-World party at Basel, just think: It's probably crowded ten-deep at the bar, with nowhere to stand, and overrun with socialites and fat, rich people. While wrangling with the PR at the door, remind yourself: This party probably sucks, and it's likely a blessing if I am denied entry. With any luck your apparently blase attitude will register as The Way Someone Important would act, and then BAM, you're right in there, uncomfortably sardined in with the socialites and fat, rich people.
5. Say that you don't even want to BE at the party, that all you really need to do is run in REAL QUICK and deliver something to your boss, who will literally KILL YOU if you don't. And he/she isn't answering his/her cell phone, so you really need to get this pesky errand over, ASAP, so that you can get somewhere else, to the better party you want to be at.
6. Don't roll with an enormous group of people, none of whom are on the RSVP list. This is common sense, really, but it exposes one of the sadder, more anxiety-inducing truths of the week down in Miami... in which you'll find yourself sloughing off friends you encounter, on the street or at another party, for fear that including them with your group will somehow thwart your collective chances at scoring entry to that NEXT party. AND IT NEVER ENDS.
7. Perhaps most importantly: Before you begin your evening at some easy-access, 7 p.m.,  all-you-can-drink-vodka-cocktails mixer... EAT SOMETHING RESEMBLING DINNER. Otherwise you'll end up scavenging for cheap appetizers all night long, and then arriving at the night's primo party with your eyes rolling back in your head and your shirt on backwards. And the publicist at the door definitely won't appreciate it if you're slurring while delivering your Oscar-winning load of total BS (see #2-5)." — Scott Indrisek, executive editor of Modern Painters magazine and creator of Brant Watch and #MARFA


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