I first saw you in a photo. Was it in a magazine, a website, or my Instagram feed? Doesn’t matter because it was love at first sight. I was enamored and could picture myself frolicking and dancing my way through the grass like a cliché. Thought it was a dream when I finally got my hands on a wristband. And this weekend, we finally met.
Let’s talk day 1. Got off the bus and was greeted by the view of a group of guys lined up next to one another peeing on the grass with functioning port-a-potties behind them. But forget them, too early to rain on my parade. I finally got the quintessential picture in front of the Ferris Wheel, but didn’t go on it. Should I have?
I listened to Raury for the first time ever and bopped to his beats and lyrics. I laughed to Mac DeMarco and left his set early but not before a douchey male grabs me by my shoulders without my consent and asks me, “What? You don’t like it?” I said, “don’t touch me” and nudged my way out of there. Wish there was a no douchebag policy. Recovery was quick though as I jumped in the air to the beautiful sunset. Then I listened to Father John Misty’s wisdom and capped the night with the best musical dream that is The XX.
Day 2 tested my love for the sun and my little patience with Coachella goers. As soon as we got there we were on a mission to find water and shade because it was going to be a long day. Gaga wasn’t supposed to come on until 11:10 pm. 7 bucks got me a bottle of water and a slice of watermelon for me to enjoy while sitting in the shade.
That peaceful moment got interrupted not once but three times. Thanks to the girl who would have sat on me to take over my space but chose to sit on my sneakers instead. Thanks to the guy who chose to sit less than a foot in front of me, gracing me with the sight of your bare back.
Last but not least the guy running away from security who refused to sit down, and the security guy who insisted on handling this physical situation two feet in front of us. Plenty of unoccupied space, but sure do what you please. We moved but felt physically exhausted by the sun and people.
We took the shuttle back to the hotel so we can rest before Gaga’s performance and grab some much needed food. After we regained our sanity and health, we trekked to the shuttle stop and got on the bus for the second time that day to finally see Gaga. Shout out to the girl on the bus who asked us a million questions and made an anti-Semitic remark prefaced with “I’m Jewish but…” Next shout out to the security guy who told me to “hold em up” after I already got through security. I stared at you because I wasn’t high or drunk like you expected me to be. I kept walking but I saw the smile on your face.
Next shout out to the girl who apologized as she nudged her and her boyfriend into the little bit of space that I was taking up, making me smaller and smaller. Then Gaga was 20 minutes late and doing something with her voice and music that didn’t feel genuine. I have loved her music since 2009 and left the set after 3 and half songs feeling disappointed.
By day 3, my friend and I decided to remove our Chandler disposition to this entire experience and be more like Joey (Friends reference). Almost two glasses of rosé later, I found myself excited to let loose and dance the night away. We watched people dance even though Tove Lo’s sound was off and walked off before the anticipated boob flash she apparently is famous for. We went to the beer garden but chugged our $15 drinks after realizing that we would miss Lorde’s performance if we didn’t run for it. Lorde was worth the run in the dusty wind. Her performance was amazing and dancing to Green Light was exactly what we needed. We stayed for a few of Kendrick’s songs and wondered if the people dancing endlessly around me understood his lyrics beyond the catchy phrases. The night ended with the third and final trek to the shuttle and back to the hotel.
I have now accepted that you were not what I expected. You are to me, somewhere between a bit of a disappointment and a bit of a dream come true. Maybe I should have done more research and looked beyond your clever marketing photos. The maybes are endless. But mostly, maybe I could have just you accepted you as what you are, a messy, beautiful, organized, chaotic bubble. I keep asking myself if I would do this again and I can’t say never because I don’t like absolutes. I know for sure though that next year I am participating in Couchchella because I like being comfortable as much as I like good music, if not more.
I would like to end this letter with a thank you to the beautiful sunsets, the momentary breezes through the heat, the space for people to be exactly who they are, and the $2 water bottles.
If you’ve made it through this long post, thank you so much. This post is an honest as possible recap of my Coachella experience. I hope this informs anyone who dreams of going to Coachella like I did for many years.
P.S. This is not an ad.