It’s been four days since Coachella Weekend 1 ended and my ears are still ringing (in the best of ways). A mash-up of Postal Service, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Moby is playing in my head, and I’m jealous of those of you who are going this weekend — especially because you have the chance to learn from my mistakes.
The festival is magical: from the over sized Ferris wheel to the millions of glow sticks, from rainbow palm trees to strings of glowing balloons lighting the sky, from whimsical outfits to the endless supply of live music, the Empire Polo Club in Indio is transformed into a fantastical, hippie-rave-carnival for music lovers (basically my version of heaven). However, if I could do it again this weekend, here are a few things I would do differently.
1. Bring a sweatshirt
It was 93 degrees in Indio during the day last weekend, so when I left my house for pool parties pre-festival at 1 p.m., lugging an outer layer around the next 12 hours was the last thing I wanted to do. But when the sun went down and the wind picked up, I was ready to give an arm and a leg (not to mention my beloved flower crown) for the warmest article of clothing I could find. By 6 p.m. on Day 3 I braved the merchandise line (and jacked up prices) and bought a touristy $50 Coachella sweatshirt (complete with the full lineup on the back) which totally killed my rock and roll vibe but at least got me through the un-missable final set (Red Hot Chili Peppers CRUSHED it).
*Note: sweatshirts DO sell out. A friend of mine actually bought a sweatshirt off of someone's back for double the selling price. Bring your own and tie it around your waist or throw it in your backpack. I promise it's worth it.
2. Pick a meeting spot
Newsflash: cell phones do NOT work at Coachella. Texts are delayed, calls fail, batteries die faster than you can type “meet at the Outdoor Stage before Pretty Lights.” I felt so prepared with my phone-charging iPhone case, but that wasn't even enough to keep my phone alive. If you want to meet up with friends, choose specific times and locations. This can be difficult as there are multiples of just about everything (i.e., Heineken beer tents, popcorn stands, giant colored teepee-looking structures) and meeting "in the back left of Sahara" or "near the A6 speaker at the main stage" did not prove specific enough. Also, make sure the spot you choose is actually stationary as some things (such as the giant light up snail) move unexpectedly.
3. Bring a unique object (and preferably a tall friend to hold it up)
"Look for the pink noodle!" "To the right of the blow up crayon!" "40 feet back from the green light saber!" These were actual (delayed) text messages I sent and received this weekend. You would think these would be specific enough, but apparently noodles, giant crayons, and light sabers are frequent objects at Coachella. One successful friend-finding idea that I did see was a laser pen pointed at a sign. That way the person's friends could follow the laser beam all the way to him. Smart.
4. Figure out a way to get home ahead of time
This might sound obvious. And if you’re willing to wait in the two hour long cab line at midnight, go for it. But between the wind and the dust storm on Sunday night, even fifteen minutes standing still was brutal. No matter what, you’re probably going to have to wait or walk to a car, but having a designated driver or befriending a cab driver is definitely a good idea. Also, parking lot signs are few and far between so if you do drive, make sure you know where you parked.