My boyfriend just excitedly told me he has just scored passes to the city's biggest party this month. In the past, that would unquestionably have meant the rugby sevens every March. For some reason the tournament this year is in April. The big bash he is talking about is Art Basel, which used to be in May but not any more. Timing aside, the agenda is a surprise to me.
Let me be clear, my sweetie in his Savile Row suits looks like a cultured educated gentleman, but in reality he knows nothing about modern art. He's not a collector, he doesn't understand art, and the only works framed and displayed on his wall are football posters and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. He might appear to be grown-up, but he's still just a lad.
Once, he did own a famous work of art in his parents' basement. But that was in velvet and it featured dogs and playing cards.
So it is a bit of surprise to see him so enthusiastic about going to Art Basel's opening cocktail and viewing. Let's face it, he thought the vernissage was named after "that expensive gay palace in France".
In recent years, Art Basel has grown and become more than just art collectors selling and buying. It's now an annual social event and commercialised circus on par with costume charity balls and crazy fashion shows with an after-party concerts with pop stars.
The art is now just another excuse to mingle and schmooze with Champagne and cocktails.
In some ways, it's no different than sevens. Loads of people go and have no clue about the game or what countries are even playing, but it's a great opportunity to go on a freebie binge of open bars, assuming you're VIP enough to get in the corporate boxes. The big difference with Art Basel is the beverage of choice is Champagne instead of beer, and the canvases for the creative paintings are on walls rather on some drunk's face in the South Stand.
Actually, it's quite comical to watch my boyfriend pretend to appreciate modern art. Last year, some NYC gallery owner tried to entice him to buy some bizarre psycho-sexual installation featuring cartoon characters. Smartly, he just nods away, partly because he doesn't understand a single word spoken to him. Then he'll politely suggest he'll think about it and always add, "and I do love it. It does speak to me". Then it's off to the private lounge to top up his drink.
At least he's not the type to take selfies in front of goofy artworks and post them on social media. Nothing says I'm a dumb philistine like taking pictures in front of bad art and showing everyone you have no taste. That would be like telling everyone at the sevens you really dislike New Zealand because wearing all black all the time is just so unfashionably boring.