Top Seven Things to Do at Art Deco Weekend

Art Deco Weekend 2013 graphic by Ana Lense Larrauri

The Miami Design Preservation League hosts its annual celebration of the era that put Miami Beach on the map with its annual Art Deco Weekend, kicking off three days of events, screenings, lectures, tours and parades (for both humans and canines) Friday through Sunday. Now in its 36th year, the event brings thousands to appreciate the nation’s first 20th century historic district which, thanks to decades of work by preservationists, has become part of our city’s architectural and cultural legacy. So what’s on the agenda — besides looking at buildings? Here are the top seven things to do at Art Deco Weekend.


1. VIP Speakeasy
If you want to get into this speakeasy, you have to buy a ticket and show up at the Art Deco Welcome Center on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. and follow the instructions to a second location where you will gain access to the Miami Design Perservation League’s 1920s-themed Grand Ball. Expect a Boardwalk Empire dress code – you can even get flappered or gangstered out yourself for the event. There will be plenty of food samplings from local restaurants, music by the South Flroida Jazz Orchestra and moonshine aplenty – none made in bathtubs, mind you.
2. Music 
Get into the sounds of the Art Deco era at the 11th Street Stage in Lummus Park (Ocean Drive and11th Street) which presents a packed roster of music Friday evening through Sunday. Friday night enjoy an Evening of Jazz, with sounds that will take you from the Deco Era through to contemporary. Saturday’s headliner is Doug Wimbish Sound System and Sunday gets funky with Miami’s own Suenalo.

3. Parades

Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Ocean Drive will be inundated with classic cars, marching bands, bag pipes, shirtless firemen and more with Grand Marshall Michael Aller, aka Mr. Miami Beach, presiding over the madness that is the Art Deco Weekend Parade.  But first, Miami Beach will be gone to the dogs at the annual Arf Deco Parade, with owners dressing their pooches up in their favorite ensembles and marching them down Ocean Drive at 7 p.m.

4. Classic Car Show
Ah, the internal combustion engine. Never was a sound sexier than the hum of a motor and the screech of tires on pavement. Though the vintage cars on display at the Classic Car Show on Saturday and Sunday at 7th Street and Ocean Drive probably haven’t seen street action since Nixon was in office, we can celebrate these throwback cars that take us to time when seatbelts were optional and the driver and frontseat passenger had to adjust the seat together.

5. Lectures
For those that are aware that the Art Deco period is about more than porthole windows, long pearl necklaces and streamlined chairs, the lecture series throughout the weekend will satiate your need for knowledge about a variety of topics regarding Art Deco architecture, perservation and local history. Sharon Koskoff, founder of the Art Deco Society of the Palm Beaches will host a discussion Friday about the Art Deco influences in Palm Beach and her efforts to preserve the architectural history of the region. Photographer Robin Hill will present a look at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Florida Southern College and discuss its significance within Wright’s oeuvre. Also, author and preservationist N.Y. Nathiri will discuss Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston’s connection to Florida and the ongoing efforts to preserve Eatonville, Florida, Hurston’s hometown.

6. Antiques
Get a sneak peek at some of the relics that will be on display at the upcoming Original Miami Beach Antique Show at a tent located at the south end of the festival. Snag paintings, furniture, porcelain, collectables and more and get the promo code for a discount on admission to the Original Miami Beach Antique Show taking place from Jan.31-Feb. 4 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  The Art Deco Welcome Center will also host a sale featuring a bounty of Art Deco furniture, accessories, lighting and other objets d’art that can be purchased or merely appreciated.

7. Film
Enjoy a series of films that will take you back to the Roaring Twenties from the 2012 Oscar Award-winning silent film The Artist to the hilarious farce Some Like It Hot starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. Also, see Woody Allen’s nostalgic look at the age when Paris was the creative capital of the world in Midnight in Paris as well as the 1949 version of The Great Gatsby.  For the visually-obsessed, be sure to pass by the Leslie Hotel after sunset (1244 Ocean Dr.) and watch as the hotel’s facade presents visual projections of the beloved faces of Art Deco era cinema, from Charlie Chaplin to Shirley Temple.