Last year, I almost died jumping off a train attempting to get into Coachella parties, a cataclysm to a less-lit-than-usual weekend. As a Purple Heart veteran living with crippling PTSD since surviving the accident, this time around I approached the parties with some necessary chill, getting the proper training and treatments needed (in the form of brand-sponsored activations) to make it through another year. I dispensed with my usual M.O.—getting drunk off free booze, searching for the hottest festival bros, and amassing a lifetime supply of Influencer swag—to conduct some anthropological research about the Coachella party breed, a special subset of the festival-goer demographic, which brought me to a total of 17 parties within the time span of 72 hours.
Here’s all the shit I got into (highlights only):
After two alcohol and swag-less night parties followed by a couple hours of sleep in the back of a Prius, I woke up in the desert and started my weekend at Shout P.R.’s Oasis Influencer breakfast within the Vestal Village campgrounds of Lake Cahuilla, where I was filmed for KTLA 5 local news doing meditation and yoga for the first time. It was led by DJ Gina Turner and Tim Rothschild of The Third Thing, who imparted within me the importance of “centering yourself before partying,” guiding me to nirvana.
Then I experienced “Brazil does Coachella” at Cris Dios Organic’s Casa Laces in private lakeside estate in Indio, where I got a organic multi-vitamin hair treatment and a massage alongside Steak while being fed actual Brazilian churrascaria steak by Instagram models from São Paulo.
This sentiment was given more rationale from the always-dapper Aussie Marc Neil Baker who DJed The Retreat, a tastemaker paradise within Korakia Penisione, a Mediterranean-style hotel compound. “The festival is too overwhelming, it’s hard to find a relaxing time. The Retreat allows you to decompress from all the madness of the festival,” he told me.
While at Nylon’s Midnight Garden party on a lawn in Bermuda Dunes, I lingered with Armenian bottle service bros wearing dad hats given out at 1OAK x Up&Down’s Coachella pop-up in cabanas hosted by The Dream Hollywood, and spotted Oscar winner/Vetements hoodie star Leonardo DiCaprio trying to be all incognito while twerking to A-Trak’s Disco Bloghouse set.
I pulled up with with A$AP Mob, Playboi Carti, and Ian Connor to Calvin Klein’s CK Desert Sessions all night warehouse rave in Cathedral City to join OFF-WHITE’s Virgil Abloh and Brodinski DJ b2b onstage. AM I A THOT?
The next day, I returned to The Retreat, where I met Reza Fahim, a gentle spirit whose trendy Silver Lake hangout Tenants of the Trees hosted the bar experience for the weekend. “It’s all about the lifestyle,” unlike the festival, “the vibe we wanted to create and bring from Tenants to The Retreat is more relaxed and casual,” he said.
With mini Amazon Alexa speakers in hand, I made my way to The Zoe Report x Guess’ Palm Springs ZOEasis, where I did D.I.Y. spin art on Superga sneakers, and lathered my body in Jessica Alba’s entire line of Honest Beauty products.
Internet It girl Nikki Takesh and the boys of WEDIDIT teamed to host a pool party at The dFM’s The dFM House in Palm Springs, where I got an amazing cowboy straw hat from Sara Designs that takes three weeks to handcraft by women in the jungles of Ecuador.
As A$AP Mob went about their usual rap shenanigans from a gazebo in the middle of the Revolve’s Revolve Desert House in Thermal, I met two random hot bros (I couldn’t resist), who view the parties as an entryway into the crew: “When you’re at the festival, you’re like an ant in the crowd, but when you’re here, it’s like you’re at A$AP’s house, and when you’re next to the crew, you feel accepted by the crew.” This was echoed by former Drake Degrassi co-star/current Ramriddlz manager A.J. Saudin, “the parties offer a more intimate environment to connect with people in the industry.”
By night, I conquered my fears and returned to the site of last year’s accident RE/DONE x Levi’s Neon Carnival at an airport hangar near the fest, where I DIDN’T JUMP OFF A TRAIN. Inside, I went down a super slide all the way out of the party, escaping throngs of people begging to buy my wristband off me for hundreds of dollars, which I would done if the it wasn’t intentionally braided with a Lokai bracelet who’s beads contain water from Mt. Everest and mud from the Dead Sea on some spiritual life balance shit. YAY I DIDN’T DIE.
I ended my night in a V.I.P. perch above the dancefloor at Jeremy Scott x W Hotels LED-lit lake party at the Corona Yacht Club where I caught my dads A-Trak and Diplo canoodling during their DJ set, then woke up the next day wearing a limited edition J. Scott bucket hat printed with electric guitars, matching Katy Perry’s dress for the evening.
On the last morning, I entered a Coachella chill zone at Racked’s Wellness Oasis which offered festival-goers a place to “unwind after a weekend of concerts and ragers” complete with a group detox stretching session, a healthy lunch spread from Crateful, healthy cocktails, fun sunglasses from Pared, and lots of wellness essentials. “It’s all about nurturing yourself,” said editor Natalie Alcala, speaking to the healthy lifestyle that Coachella parties like hers promote.
Feeling in my element, I returned to The Retreat one last time where I got all the treatments: a massage from the Caudalie spa where the masseuse popped my back bones, a manicure from the girl who does Kylie’s nails, and a haircut from the fine men at Baxter of California’s pop-up barbershop. Then I indulged in a healthy meal prepared by Marcel Vigneron of WOLF, his take on hangover brunch.
For dessert, I had a spiked snow cone at Nylon’s BRUNCH ME MAYBE ONE MORE TIME pool party in Bermuda Dunes.
I also returned to the Revolve Desert House, where I hyped the crowd for Travis Scott’s performance, who also brought out Pusha T as a special guest. I played vintage arcade games in AGOLDE’s game room, got a bandana custom embroidered with “IT’S LIT!” from GRLFRND Denim, loaded up on balla powder for my testicles from Birchbox.
The finale of my weekend was spent at The Weeknd’s private party in a heavily guarded estate in La Quinta, where I played basketball with Major Lazer’s Diplo and Jillionaire, and made out with my model crush Issa Lish.
Since undergoing its mitosis into two weekends, attending Coachella has become the ultimate status symbol of our millennial generation—the original FOMO. However, as voiced by those within this exclusive circuit, when you’ve already done the fest and are “over” what can turn out to be more hectic than fun, “doing the parties” offers a sure-fire way to have an elevated “festival experience.” These highly concepted and produced events not only provide a literal retreat from the chaos of Coachella, they are the perfect environment for creative industry types to make authentic connections. Coachella parties, loaded with brands tapping into the Experience Economy, are an extension of the festival that exhibits the aspirational lifestyle of the attendee: one who cares about music, fashion, beauty, health, wellness, and having a good, albeit comfortable, time.
While last year’s Coachella parties almost killed me, this year’s Coachella parties made me want to live better.
‘Til next year Coachella parties! You were good to me.