Kehinde Wiley talks to the crowd at his Rebirth of Cool Barbecue party at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The night included a live performance by Howard University's Showtime Marching Band and Ooh-La-La Dancers. Photograph by Keith Lane
Friday’s “Rebirth of the Cool” poolside Barbecue at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, a party celebrating the opening of the Corcoran Gallery’s “30 Americans” exhibit, tried to hang on to the last moments of summer on the first night it actually felt like fall.
The party was hosted by Kehinde Wiley, one of the exhibit’s artists. These are Wiley’s signature events—he’s known in the Miami art community for his annual fish fry. On Friday, however, he swapped fish for burgers, hot dogs, and Popchips, along with beer, wine, and cocktails. DJs Jahsonic and Keenan provided the soundtrack for a perfectly chic crowd of about 200. Some guests hung around the pool, but many stayed near the indoor bar to keep their bare shoulders and legs warm from the crisp fall breeze.
The highlight, aside from Wiley’s perfectly tailored, custom-made black-and-white three-piece houndstooth suit, was a performance by Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band and Ooh-La-La Dancers: about 50 musicians, five dancers, and one drum major, complete with the requisite giant fluffy hat. The band performed several songs, and many attendees danced from their seats on orange couches surrounding the pool.
Wiley said he’s worked with marching bands in the past, like at a New York opening when he transcribed a selection of West Coast gangster rap for one.
“I have a habit of doing everything as a performance,” Wiley said. “I like the spectacle.”