For many years, each of us has gone not only to both weekends of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (www.coachella.com; this year April 15-17 and 22-24) but to the following weekend’s further festivities of Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival (www.stagecoachfestival.com; this year April 29 to May 1). While this makes us experts in neither pop/rock nor in country & western music, it does make us authorities in how to survive a hot three-day-and-three-night extravaganza—one spent alongside up to 100,000 of your newest international best friends on the lush grounds of the Empire Polo Club in Indio. And so, here we hold forth, direct from Rancho Mirage, with our survival guide to the springtime music festivals of the Palm Springs Valley.
Of course, we’re assuming you’ve already secured your weekend wristbands, and figured out carpooling and parking. So, what should you not leave home without? First and foremost, sun protection and layers of clothes. That means hats, sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin even during daytime (ever notice how desert landscapers dress?), and more layers—maybe even a light blanket and long pants—for when the sun goes down and the chill sets in. As for your feet, wear comfy shoes—you’ll be walking for miles. And beware of flip flops. Fellow fans will care not a whit about your vulnerable toes when the mood strikes to sway. You don’t want your tootsies trampled.
On the list of no-no’s are umbrellas (even though the show will go on rain or shine; they block the view of other concert-goers) and pro cameras (cell phones are allowed). You also can’t bring in outside food or beverages, but don’t fear going hungry or dying of thirst. Options abound. Just plan to have lots of cash on-hand. There are ATMs, but lines can be endless. Oh, and in this location, location, location it’s all about water, water, water. Guzzle constantly, especially while the sun’s out.
We also suggest having a friends and family emergency plan should you temporarily part ways—or if you get lost. Cell coverage can be spotty, and the high decibels will make it hard to hear the calls that do come through. Best to name a time and a place, and agree to come together there and then.
What else? Oh, wherever thousands of people assemble in public, porta-potties fill the air. Two hints: Pack disinfectant wipes (the kind you can use on your skin, and the kind you can’t) to disinfect the amenities, and to freshen up after a long day of sweat. Be kind not only to the environment, but to the festival cleanup crews. Pick up after yourself, and use the recycle bins that will be everywhere. And while we know that music festivals are all about the music, Coachella especially has a lot of stunning art. Don’t overlook it.
Finally, don’t even think of going in to work on Monday. Just sayin’…