When I last left you on the edge of your seat, Megan and I had left the convention center for a cool show we heard about in North Beach.
Megan is a professional Uber hailer, but this was a tense moment. Because of the unpredictable El Nino rain and the fact that it’s very hard to walk in Louboutins for extended periods of time around Miami, a hurricane of surge pricing was on us and there was no way out. I’m a really big fan of public transit so I was checking out the bus stop. I made a mistake and asked a whole group of people wearing Ray-Bans if they knew how much the bus cost, and they laughed at me and walked across the street towards the convention center. Luckily, about a second later I happened upon a CitiBike station, which distracted me from starting a socioeconomic revolution. The only mode of transportation I love more than the public kind is bicycles. And also public bicycles.
Miami’s CitiBikes are $6 for an hour, which is a great deal if you’re not afraid of biking in a dress.
I am definitely not. We biked along the boardwalk, which isn’t really what you’re supposed to do, but we were following our motto of doing things until someone tells us to stop. A lot of the big resorts were hosting parties later that night so they were setting up some pretty cool stuff on the beach behind the boardwalk.
One of the hotels we biked by had a huge glass case sitting next to the pool with a giant golden mammoth skeleton. I realized this was a Damien Hirst‘s ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ just hanging out by itself in the backyard of the Faena Hotel. It was being guarded by a super bored looking guy with a buzzcut. Megan is really into buzzcuts and guys who look like ex or current MMA fighters so she flirted with him and he let me get closer to take pictures.
I think there’s an unspoken rule that you’re supposed to hate Damien Hirst, but once I saw this piece he did at the Cleveland art museum that was a giant stained glass window made entirely of dead butterflies, and it was beautiful and also very metal, so I appreciated the spectacle.
It was around this time we got kicked off of the boardwalk by someone in a uniform of authority, and then it started to pour. We were getting drenched and were pretty hungry so we pulled over to this kind of weird strip mall kind of place that had a tiny bodega grocery store and a very divey bar that was completely empty. We didn’t know it yet, but this bar was about to become our safe zone and home away from home in Miami.
The bar is called the Cucu’s Nest. It has 3 stars on yelp, a pool table, fiberglass ceiling tiles with mystery stains, and $4 beers at happy hour.
They even let us eat the food I bought at the bodega inside. It was awesome and there was The Weeknd on the jukebox, so we decided we were going back there later for sure.
The rain let up and our love of weirdos and art was calling so we got back on our bikes. North Beach was way further than we thought and Megan was singing, “Working out on vacationnnn,” because our calves were definitely feeling it. We finally arrived at our destination and parked our CitiBikes.
The show was at this place called The Pharmacy. It’s an old abandoned neighborhood pharmacy that had been gutted and was being used as a gallery space. It was a part of a network of shows called Satellite. It’s completely artist run and has all of the weird stuff I was hoping to see. And it was also $0, which is v. key to our lifestyles.
We were pretty clueless about where to go next, but this really nice woman in a booth outside told us to go to the Ocean Terrace Hotel a block away. It’s an old hotel that is going to be knocked down after Art Basel, but before it goes it was taken over by Tiger Strikes Asteroid, The Satellite Show Miami Beach, and Art Market Productions.
Artists from all over the country/world were represented and each room in the hotel was a different installation and it’s own tiny little environment. It was AMAZING. Megan kept describing it as an “art fever dream”, which is very accurate.
It felt like literally every young artist was there. Even that Kalan guy who performs on the Bedford L stop was there.
Someone dressed up as a giant pile of hair and crawled around on the floor.
This awesome installation, Stupid Bar, brought a little slice of Baltimore weirdness to Miami.
There was also this really nice lady who got so excited about seeing three cool looking girls hanging out in one of the rooms that she insisted on taking a prom style photo of all of us.
I don’t think the city should tear down this hotel. They should just let artists do this on a monthly basis until someone accidentally burns it down during a performance piece.
The mystery of the night was calling so we re-polished our makeup inside one of the installations with a mirror and went back into the night.
The next place we stopped was this old bandshell that was part of the Satellite projects. We sat down to rest our tired gams and to take in some DIY rap.
We thought about socializing but everyone seemed really cool. We didn’t know if we were big enough art goblins to impress anyone, and a really big part of us wanted to get a drink at the Cucu’s nest and listen to The Weeknd. Uber finally wasn’t surge pricing so we treated ourselves to a ride to our new favorite dive.
We were enjoying cheap whiskey gingers and chatting with this guy who gave us a hot tip about this place nearby called Freehand Miami. It was down the street and he promised us there was a pool there so we decided it was worth it to venture out again.
Freehand Miami was really cool. Almost too cool. They literally cut their artesian cocktail ice cubes with chainsaws to make them look more rustic, and their interior design peer pressures you into ordering old fashions. They’re part of a new chain of places that are calling themselves “luxury hostels”. Apparently this means you still share a group room with like eight Australian dudes, but they do give you really nice towels.
And there was a pool, but no one was actually in it. There were a ton of people and they were all kind of squished around the sides. We tried to sneak into a party at their upstairs bar, but was abruptly stopped by a bouncer who told me I was not “on the list”. Three words that really anger me. I really wanted to reenact the pool scene from Almost Famous out of spite, but Megan met this really cool girl with a shaved head that invited us into her room to a party she was about to throw in fifteen minutes.
In the meantime we tried to make meaningful eye contact with several people, even though we had been rained on twice that day. The cool girl announced that the party was starting so we meandered towards the room. Which ended up looking like this:
It was awesome. There was a pyramid of monster energy drinks in one corner, of which I took two, and paint splattered everywhere and people wearing whatever they wanted. It was sensory overload in the best way. I wanted to touch everything and everyone, which is rude so I didn’t. A band was setting up in the corner so Megan and I followed the cool girl up a ladder and onto a loft bed, which was also the merch booth.
I mentioned that I thought it was hilarious that there was a well stacked pile of Monster energy drinks in the corner, and the cool girl smiled, looked me dead-straight in the eyes and said, “They’re one of our corporate sponsors!”
I almost chocked on the Monster I was currently drinking. “Really?!”
“Yes! Do you want to see our list of other sponsors?”
I kind of did, but the conversation went elsewhere, and luckily before my brain went down into a wormhole of thinking about the simulated branded experience we call our lives, a very drunk girl on the bunk next to us loudly yelled, “A MASERATI IS A POOR MAN’S BENTLY.”
Megan, who used to clean her family’s cistern out at their home in rural Indiana, slowly looked at me with an open mouth and in slow motion I saw her turning to say something most likely very sassy and very funny to the girl who just yelled this. We were currently trapped on a bunk bed with these people, so I held her hand, and said, “Set and setting,” reminding Megan that this is our fantasy universe for the weekend. Things got better when the girl handed Megan a handful of glitter to throw when the band started playing, proving that the love of glitter and partying is universal.
The band was amazing. They’re from New York and they’re called Spirit Twin, and they lulled me into the calmest most zen mood ever, even faced with the reality that I will likely never own a Bentley :(.
After the show Megan and I decided to call it a night. We were exhausted and the bar had already closed. There was a Car2Go right outside of the hostel, and months before when I was mildly drunk and on the internet I had gotten a lifetime membership for $35. I love driving and barely ever get the opportunity so we got in.
I parked it right next to the hostel in what seemed most likely a legal parking space. We walked away from the car somewhat nervously, but I never heard anything about it ever again. Car2Go rules. It’s so nice that this company trusts pretty much just anyone with something as expensive as a car because actually owning one sucks, and I’d much rather check one out like the world is my library.
My sponsored Monster energy drink was wearing off and we didn’t feel like dipping into what South Beach had to offer for the rest of the night so we walked back to our hostel and called it a night. Tomorrow was Saturday and was our last full day in our art fever dream.
To be continued…