This April I decided to take the plunge, both financially and culturally, and try an American festival. Coachella has a global reputation for being an Insta famous gathering of LA rich kids running wild in the desert, so I thought I best go and see if this was true. Before even stepping foot in Palm Springs I had already racked up a £480 return flight, £450 air BnB bill, and £350 car rental expense, so expectations were high to say the least. Armed with my American flag bikini, converse and rave googles, I was set for Palm Springs.
Issue number one: transport. If you do catch the 11 hour plane, get a rental car and endure driving on the wrong side of the motor way for 3 hours from LA to Palm Springs, you are still actually not at Coachella. You are in Indio, is a very small city with a population of 40,000, that hosts all global sessioners. Uber have cleverly clocked on there is a demand for stranded Brits to get from AirBnB land to the mosh pits of Martin Garrix. As a result, there is a surplus of Uber drivers in the desert, charging $100 to the festival and $200 back. This was not something we had budgeted for. Luckily, we came across a slightly on the spectrum happy-go-lucky Lyft driver, who had a 6 seater that was perfect for our group of 7. Ivan, had driven from LA with 17 of his mates to do the Coachella commute up to 20 times a day – charging $70 each way, leaving the weekend with close to $5000. Without Ivan, there would have been no beer kitty. My advice here is order an XL Lyft on day 1 and become best mates with your driver to the point of speed dial.
Having now made it past 4 rounds of very intimate female security (I’m talking underwear band flicks here), you find yourself in Insta selfie land @ the iconic ferris wheel. Everyone is hot, thin, in long draping gowns, wearing head flowers and aviators. There is no mud, no one is lying in a pile of their own piss, a lot of people are getting together and the toilets are very, very clean. There is no ethnic diversity, everyone has money, and a lot of it because a beer is $10 from the designated drinking area. Drinking is only permitted in four large beer tents that are run more efficiently than a US army base in the middle east. The bar is overstaffed, with contactless payment systems are pouring over the counter. All drinks have been pre-made, meaning the whole ordering process takes all of 5 seconds. Despite the mind-blowing organization of the beer tents, a lot of people are sober, in every sense.
“Ravers” at Coachella go for the EDM (Electronic Dance Music). The uniform of an EDM’er is a bandana over your face, Black Raybands, army print shorts and an American baseball vest. EDM’ers can be found in the Sahara Tent, and they will use their iPhones as an extension of the light show and put them under water bottles and aggressively fist pump with them to feel like they are contributing to the show. Although a lot of the EDM’ers are dancing like they are being electrocuted, this an act, they are in fact sober.
With the heat, and the good looks, comes Coachellaship. This is where two beautiful people find the love of their lives (/weekend), and enter a 3 day partnership. I was exposed to the Coachellaship from day 1, and I can confirm from what I saw in the tents – the style is a lot of tongue. Power couples ploughed through the art installation fields, holding sweaty palms tight, passionately embracing each other under the Bumble Airplane. Bumble was so big, it had its own official after party run by the Jenners. Coachellaships do not proceed past first base due to a plethora of heat and distance related obstacles, but you can expect ear kissing in the crowds.
Coachella is a festival of timings. If you go at 1pm, you will have to buy over 30 bottles of water to survive the afternoon sizzle. The sun sets at 7.30pm, so a 3.30pm entry allows you sufficient beer tent time to consume alcohol and feel the effects of it without Heineken seeping out your pores causing a tragic SULA (sweaty upper lip alert). It is essential to be at the main stage for sunset so you can enjoy Kendrick Lamar perform live between a sea of palm trees back dropped against the Californian mountains as the sky transforms from blue to pink. The festival finishes sharp at midnight, so if you are planning on going crazy you have a post sunset 5 hour window to run wild. Post 12, you need a plan. If you are planning on going to Snoop dogg’s Palm Springs After P, you actually can. You need to sign up to the official after party mailers and when they come out INSTANTLY RSVP. Last resort plan, there is a surprisingly good silent disco in the campsite that goes till 5am.
If you plan Coachella, you will enjoy Coachella – there is definitely no spontaneity to it. Watching Hans Zimmer’s entire orchestra perform the Lion king in the middle of the desert is an unforgettable experience, just remember factor 50 doesn’t mix with glitter, camel water backpacks are cool and hip flasks cannot fit in your pants so start saving now for Coachella 2018.