Art Basel 2015

Art Basel 2015

From thrills to no-frills, Art Week crowd parties on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 March, 2015, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 March, 2015, 3:38pm

The annual Davidoff cocktail party at the Grand Hyatt is the centrepiece of Hong Kong Art Week’s party scene and this year’s was one of the best.  As usual, no expense was spared: abundant free flow of 2003 and 2004 Dom Perignon, a whole roast pig, and all the cigars you can smoke.

Still, the main draw was Dita von Teese, the renowned burlesque performer. Early in the evening she wandered the reception as poised and glamorous as ever while a crowd of smartphone-waving selfie fiends followed her every move - one man actually kicked me in the knee trying to get to her.

After an odd handful of jazz standards from Michael Wong, Dita took the stage in a bejewelled body stocking. Her performance was steamier than anticipated - she stripped down to knickers and pasties and splashed about in an oversized martini glass - and refreshingly racy for Hong Kong, though I’m not sure the crowd knew what to make of it: her performance was met more with stunned silence than applause.

Before Dita even had a chance to dry off, the party ran out of champagne, sparking a general exodus. There was talk of a few different after- parties but I was most excited for the Audemars Piguet party, mostly because it was hosted in the newly open California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong.

The entrance to the party, an art installation of mist, and what looked like desiccated tree stumps emitting an eerie clicking noise, got my hopes up, but the party itself, while fine, was just another cocktail party. The tower does boast some excellent people-watching opportunities, though, and it felt like an apt metaphor for the week to see the tuxedoed set looking down on the jelly-shot-sucking hordes below.

I had lower expectations for Saturday night but in the end it proved to be the most fun of the week so far. Capping off the opening day of the Chai Wan Mei Art & Design Festival, this year’s Chai Wan Nites party saw people turning out in droves to an industrial space. The whole neighbourhood was buzzing and we passed street art by Aaron Kai on the way in.

The event was hosted by Yana and Stephen Peel. Inside, Hong Kong duo Head Clowns were playing. The musical programme put together by local musician Shane Aspegren was impressive, featuring DJ Awesome Tapes From Africa and a midnight performance from Beijing band Queen Sea Big Shark.

It looked like the party was gearing up to be a late one, but I decided to turn in after I caught myself nodding off in a pile of shredded paper, one of many decorating the venue in a nod to its industrial roots. On Sunday night the party moves to Wong Chuk Hang. Watch this space.