Talking with Joshua Wagner
Director of Culture and Entertainment
Photographs courtesy The Miami Beach EDITION
Joshua Wagner emanates cool. Talk with him and he speaks with the ease and the distinct air of someone that is experienced in the realm of orchestrating experiences. Because that’s what he does. As the Director of Culture and Entertainment for The Miami Beach Edition, Wagner is responsible for bringing the party. Not just the one happening at Basement—the Edition’s raucously popular night spot—but also the brunches, the lunches, the skating, the bowling and much, much more.
Since the opening of the 294-room hotel in November 2014, The Edition has consistently provided quality programming across the property, establishing itself as a go-to for locals and visitors. “We are very proud to be here and fundamentally we put Miami first. We are here for the locals, it happens that great tourists follow great locals,” he says. As Wagner prepares for his busiest time of year, we talked about his insights on entertainment and Art Basel.
You’ve seen Art Basel grow year on year – what are your likes and dislikes?
You have to like everything about it. Yes, the traffic might suck and the hotel rooms might be expensive but if anyone hates on Art Basel, they are hating on an event that has tremendously helped in legitimizing our city. And overall it’s just a great time. I hope to one day come as an attendee and have the time to fully experience it, for now I pick a handful of things to go to.
So what’s your ideal day during Art Basel?
A day at the Convention center. The Convention center is your bread & butter, it’s the whole reason for this city exploding. And you have to applaud them for allowing all the satellite fairs and other things to happen around them, instead of fighting it and boxing everyone else out.
How do you approach curating the events, entertainment and partnerships on which hotel has built its reputation?
We have seven different food & beverage options in the hotel and they are all different, so we start there. Our ideology of luxury here is that you have to have diversity. You want to have breakfast, we got you. You want a cocktail, we got you. You want go bowling and have a beer and a shot. We got that too.
What are the challenges that come with that?
Continuing the momentum and ensuring consistency in a very rapid marketplace. Today, everyone has a goldfish mentality so you have to be constantly engaging and exciting people.
How do you ensure that you continue to stand out?
We have no fear. We’re not scared to try anything and we have faith in our decisions. We don’t throw something at the wall and panic. We are about believing in what we do and not panicking.
Do you have a favorite event—past or ongoing?
Gio’s Total Split Show— interactive speed bowling on Monday’s with Gio and his sidekick Pin Tits. Every frame has a new challenge, for the 10th frame you have to twerk. Everyone lets their hair down and just has a good time and it’s just a mix of everyone, gay, straight, locals, tourists. It’s just fun.
If Basement is packed, where should one go?
Personally, when I’m not here, I go to a dive bar, someplace with a little bit of space. But also I say go to Sweet Liberty. It’s a great neighborhood cocktail bar with a happy hour. Miami is not a place really that has happy hour because we are a 5 am town but there you can get .75 cent oysters and a $5 rosé.
What do you think people take away from Miami now?
An unexpected story – I think people come here and they discover something that they didn’t expect.
The house drink pays homage to the symbol of hospitality utilizing copper just as ABSOLUT uses copper to distill ABSOLUT ELYX. The drink has a kick of sweetness and a hint of tang; a mix of house made pineapple and rosemary syrup, Elyx, sherry, salted caramel bitters, and tiki bitters - cinnamon, allspice and island spices - all poured over crushed ice. A sprig of singed rosemary brings out the nose.
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