“So let me get this straight… I show up on Thursday, and, we don’t leave till Monday. We pitch our tents and remain there in 1,000 degree heat with no shade for 3 full days among millions of obsessed concert-goers within millimeters of each other in a densely packed parking lot. Huh. You mean like an extended drunken college tailgate party in the middle of the Sahara??”
Most people I knew advised against it. Even die-hard campers were hesitant, insisting that it just wasn’t worth it. That the 3-day concert alone would leave you with PTSD. Funny thing was… no one that I knew had ever committed to the entire experience.
Honestly, the thought of camping anywhere for any reason sounds like a pain the ass. I don’t really like dirt. And insects don’t like me. It’s not about being prissy. It’s about being comfortable after a night of heavy drinking, which I assume goes hand-in-hand with extreme parking-lot survival-camping.
Granted, the outcome of an adventure is often proportional to the preparation. But when diving blind into an experience like camping at the Coachella Arts & Music Festival there are just so many wildcards that—look, if I’m punished because of something “I” did, then it’s ok. However, if I’m going suffer immensely due to someone else’s stupidity, then, count me out.
All this bounces around in my little head as I send my email to the powers-that-be in hopes of reserving a car-camping spot. And wouldn’t ya know it, I get one. No turning back now.
Fast-forward to April 24 @ 3pm…
As I loaded-up Darren’s (my contributing partner’s) car with my lackluster camping crap, a good friend of mine offers to lend us her home which sits just outside the event grounds. She insists that if anything were to go wrong, I am to call her immediately and head towards the safety of her air-conditioned sanctuary.
A rather macho “thanks, but no thanks” escaped my mouth. I visualized chewing up a piece of paper with her phone number on it, and swallowing. Air-Conditioning?? Pfff. I’m a mission from god: Eat, Sleep, Rave… Repeat.
A few hours later, in the dark, we arrived at the Coachella Campgrounds. Once again, Goldenvoice had everything dialed-in with adequate signs and plenty of parking assistants. All staff was relatively helpful and knowledgeable until we reached the infamous car checkpoint where both vehicles and concert-goers were subject to a 1970’s Turkish strip-search.
While getting a thorough pat-down I glanced over to my buddy who was in a state-of-panic as one of the “Staff-Pro Gestapo” walked off with his 136Hz Ohm tuning-fork. Seconds later, a menacing group of no-nonsense security guards huddle in the darkness determining the fate of this bewildering object.
All I hear is Darren’s distant plea, ”but… but… it’s for healing…”Good thing they were busy with the tuning fork; the distraction made it much easier to sneak in the two kilos of hashish strapped to Darren’s chest.
As day breaks, we were painfully aware of the lack of shade in the Coachella camping areas. This is exactly why an EZUP is MANDATORY. If there’s only one thing you can fit in your car, make sure it’s the pop-up canopy. Now we fully understood why ALL of our camping neighbors winced when we told them we didn’t bring one.
Tip Two: Bring several cars and park next to each other. This allows the creation of multiple “living spaces”; one for lawn chairs, one for cooking, and one for passing-out naked.
Tip Three: Get plenty of sleep BEFORE camping at Coachella. Each morning, a gaggle of sorority girls battled against the testosterone-loaded fraternity boys for the coveted title of “Most Annoying Before 8am”. Expect to be awake all… the… time.
Tip Four: Head to the VIP showers between 12pm-2pm. Do yourself a favor, borrow some extra money from mommy & daddy and pay the $5. The free common-shower facilities are fine, but the lines are horrific. Spare yourself.
(Insider Note: Showering at the free water-refilling station was really the best choice. No wait whatsoever and people look at you funny; perfect for attention-whores like me.)
Tip Five: Buy lots of ice BEFORE coming to the event. The official Coachella Ice Man does make his rounds but your constant state of inebriation may work against you. If you do catch him, make sure to bring a machete to hack your way through the dehydrated mob, ensuring that your tribe back at camp will erect a statue in your honor.
I heard a lot of complaints about the 10 dollar price tag, but instead of complaining we should all be thanking the Coachella producers for making such essential provisions readily available.
The Coachella camping experience is utterly bizarre. It’s eerily similar to camping when you were a kid, except you’re surrounded by drunken people instead of squirrels.
Strangely enough, though, I heard no one having sex; probably a lot of pillow-biting, but no audible grunts. Well… I attempted a risky Skype session in my tent one night, but the poor WIFI signal left my GF sexually frustrated. There was, however, plenty of farting, burping, dirty talk, and this coming from the sorority chicks next door!
The makers of Coachella did their best to create pastimes for those early-risers between 9am (when the sorority girls would take their first b-loads) to 12pm (when the sorority girls would head to the beauty salon).
Yes. There’s also a full-service salon on the campgrounds. Here the lovely ladies enjoyed their hair and make-up before stepping back out into the 1,000 degree desert heat. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sport a stylish do while sweating like a pig?
On that note, fashion in the camping area differs GREATLY from that which makes it into the Coachella concert grounds. Girls parade in their PJs or bikinis, with some in their panties–terrible I know. The boys rocked their hard-bodies in Silverlake Wannabe-Wear or puke-covered tees.
Though not my first-time attending Coachella, camping does lend a whole new element to the experience. And with the 18+ age limit, we have the official green-light to act responsibly irresponsible.
Campground pastimes were well thought-out, effectively uniting the crowd of international concert-goers. Thankfully, sweating was not our only option. There was always something to do regardless of your buzz-state…
Still rollin’? Head to the Art Studios, Pinball Arcade or Silent Dance Party. Feeling macho? You got Dodge-Ball, 3-Legged Racing or Pie-Eating Contests. Seeking enlightenment? Yoga, Pilates or Massages were available. And there was much much more.
Though Coachella Weekend-Two landed on Easter weekend, the Easter Bunny harbored no resentment or distain. I found colorful Easter underwear strewn about the grounds, lively pained Easter beer cans hanging from canopies, and uplifting Easter drinking games which left everyone with that “good feeling.”
And, well, it being 4/20 on Easter Sunday… there was, that.
Should we talk about my new health-conscious coffee, cranberry & vodka breakfast drink? Should we discuss the importance of carefully timing your BMs to coincide with the daily Porta-Potty cleaning schedules? Should we talk about the frat boys who actually brought a massive barbell weight-set to the event?
Stories. Stories. Stories…
Though it helps, it’s not really about being physically prepared for this experience; it’s more about being mentally prepared. The Coachella Arts & Music Festival is an experience in itself, but tack on extreme parking-lot survival-camping and you’ve got something magical. Moreover, people come from all over the world for this wackiness. There was one group that drove from freakin’ CANADA. Now that’s a serious commitment.
There is no clever ”one-sentence summation” for what transpired. To comprehend, one must live it. So here’s how you do it:
Screw your fearful anxious parents, they’ll NEVER understand.
If your boss doesn’t give you the extra days off, then quit.
Save your extra-money spent on Civet-Poop Coffee and overpriced Silverlake Wannbe-Wear.
If you encounter resistance from friends, dump them. You’ll make new ones.
Take a shot.
Buy a ticket.
Ultimately the Coachella camping experience is about people… and your tolerance to people. Everyone who IS there WANTS to be there, and everyone is ready to deal with all of the relative discomforts that are associated with camping.
The campgrounds may not be situated on some idyllic Baja beachfront or a Yellowstone Shangri-La, but then who wants babbling books and endangered wildlife when you got people walking around in Victoria Secret underwear?
…suddenly, ice becomes irrelevant.