Partying With Diplo at Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix
“I still don’t know anything about F1” said Diplo, the D.J. and producer, who was in Miami last weekend for the city’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix, drawing celebrities, athletes and car enthusiasts for what became a dayslong, citywide party.
It was Sunday, just after midnight, and Diplo was in the back seat of an S.U.V., heading to an outdoor gig in the Wynwood district. Celebrities had convened in Miami to watch the race, but Diplo used his time not to geek out over fast cars but to scope out the best scene.
“I don’t care about Formula 1 at all, but I care about parties,” he said.
He had spent the day watching the race at the new Miami International Autodrome, a temporary raceway that loops around Hard Rock Stadium, just north of the city. His day started at noon in a V.I.P. suite sponsored by Red Bull. He hated it.
“It was this bad box, like a jail,” he said. “Also they had no food, and all I wanted was a sandwich, so I left.”
His friends Andrew Watt, the record producer, and Charlotte Lawrence, a singer, were in the Ferrari suite, a three-story tent with a manicured garden, an espresso bar and flowing Bollinger champagne. So he sneaked in, without paying the entrance fee. (“I saved 10,000 bucks,” he said.)
“There was a group of seven of us, and three people didn’t have passes, including me,” he said. “A woman came over to us, and I thought she was going to kick us out, but she was just like, ‘I see you have some extra friends here.’”
“Ferrari had already tagged me on social media, so I knew I would be fine,” he added.
When he got bored of that party, he talked his way into a working area along the track, where mechanics were rotating tires and data scientists were running metrics. He was surprised to run into the former first lady Michelle Obama.
“Her security guard basically tackled me, but that was kind of cool,” he said.
Around 4 p.m., with temperatures in the 90s, he had sweat through his cowboy boots and several T-shirts. So he left before the race finished and made his way back to the Faena Miami Beach hotel, where he was staying, to watch the rest on television.
“When you watch it on TV, it’s so sick to watch the shot, but being there live, I couldn’t get any vibe,” he said. “It was sort of stressful, like being at Coachella. It was just a lot of walking around for no reason.”
Diplo, a three-time Grammy Award-winning D.J. who collaborates with the likes of Madonna, Justin Bieber and Beyoncé, had been in Miami since Thursday, working some parties and attending others. (He took a short break on Friday to fly to Louisville to work a Kentucky Derby party. “We took a jet and landed back in Miami at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning,” he said. “I tried to go to a nightclub, but it didn’t work out.”)
While superfast cars racing around loops might not have impressed him, the hoopla around Formula 1 sure did. “F1 has more high rollers than even something like Art Basel,” he said. “The parties this weekend have been insane. They’ve been packed until 5 a.m., 6 a.m.”
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“My Oura keeps telling me I am dead,” he added with a laugh, referring to the smart ring that monitors sleep and physical activity.
The parties reached a climax on Sunday night, after the final race.
With their races behind them, the drivers were finally able to let loose. Max Verstappen, the 24-year-old Dutch driver who won the grand prix, hosted a celebration at Story, a rowdy, neon-lit dance club in South Beach, before taking the party to E11even, an after-hours club near the Wynwood district.
Lewis Hamilton hosted a party at Socialista, a private Caribbean-themed club in the Brickell area operated by Cipriani. Daniel Ricciardo, the driver made famous by Netflix’s “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” hired a private folk band to perform for family and friends at his sprawling rental home in Davie, a town north of Miami.
And a clutch of celebrities — including LeBron James, Busta Rhymes, Jamie Foxx and Lindsey Vonn — ate uni off an ice sculpture and drank espresso martinis at Carbone Beach, a pop-up restaurant sponsored by American Express on Miami Beach where dinner seats went for $3,000. Nas performed for the upscale crowd, who were decked out in sports jackets and sequined dresses.
Diplo didn’t have to work until 1:30 am, when he was D.J.ing a closing party at Oasis, an outdoor stage in Wynwood. So he got the party started early.
His first stop, at around 10 p.m., was the Fillmore Miami Beach, an Art Deco-style theater where his buddies from Khruangbin, a Houston trio that blends rock with soul and psychedelia, were playing. The trip was productive: During the 15-minute drive to and from the Faena hotel, he prepared his playlist for later.
“I literally make a D.J. set for every party I do,” he said in the back seat of his private S.U.V., wearing a white T-shirt and camouflage-print cargo pants. “I never do the same set twice. It’s the most annoying job. It’s not fun at all. I have folders with folders inside of them of more sets.”
Around 11 p.m., he returned to the Faena, which Red Bull had turned into its Formula 1 headquarters. The hotel’s opulent grounds were packed with 20-something women in skintight dresses and men in T-shirts and trucker hats. “The girls all look so nice, but the men dress like they are riding a bus,” Diplo said. “I mean, I dress that way, but I’m a D.J. so I can wear what I want.”
In the hotel’s red velvet theater, the team behind Club Space, a beloved techno club in Miami, had curated a night of immersive dancing. Diplo made his way through the crowd, taking selfies with fans and greeting regulars. He frequently draws a rabid reception — evidence of his durable popularity despite recent allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied.
“Space is where you go from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.,” he said of the nightclub. “My friend was there at 11 a.m. today. He sent me a picture of him still clubbing in the daylight.”
Diplo was there for a little over an hour when his tour manager, Keaton Kinnaman, a jolly, bearded man, pulled him away for the 20-minute drive to Oasis.
He arrived around 1 a.m., and entered a trailer behind the stage, where his small team had gathered. Diplo offered everyone a shot of Tepozán, the brand of tequila he invests in, though he himself did not drink anything. “We don’t have any shot glasses, but we can put some in garbage bags or you can drink from the bottle,” he said.
At 1:30 a.m. sharp, Diplo took over the turntables, and played an upbeat mix of house, pop and hip-hop music, including tracks from his new album, “Diplo.” About 2,500 fans screamed and started dancing the second he took the stage.
“When you are a D.J., you are moving, and your senses are being challenged,” he said, just before going onstage. “You don’t get tired because there are all these sensations.”
After he played his last song, around 3 a.m., he was swarmed by adoring fans as he made his way back to the trailer. His love for Formula 1 cars may not have changed, but he was apparently smitten with the Grand Prix lifestyle.
“I am going to the Monaco one,” he announced in his trailer. “I’m playing Cannes, then I’m doing a wedding in Nice, then Sunday I am playing Jimmy’z Monte-Carlo, a big nightclub in Monaco, and then I am going to go to the race.”
On top of that, he wants to hit Formula 1’s next race in the United States: Las Vegas in 2023. “The Vegas one will be hot,” he said. “They are going to Crush F1. I can already tell.”