Avoid: Blagging Your Way In
Unless you’re a celebrity heavyweight (think Lucky Blue Smith, the Hadids and Kardashian-Jenners), Coachella is probably the hardest festival to sneak or charm your way into. While Glastonbury is still relatively easy to hop the fence into with some wit and wile — and does anyone know where the Burning Man desert ends and reality begins? — don’t be that free-spirited fool who sashays up spur of the moment with a great line for the security guards before wandering red-faced and alone for hours to Target, in need of a Gatorade and an antidote to the harsh dose of reality and march off-site that you’ve just been served.
Solution: Buy a ticket and make sure it’s not a scam. There are lots of them, because apparently the whole youth population of California and Arizona combined have marked off their calendars for this (SPRING BREAK!). Last-minute ones are still traceable, though, if you look hard enough, because some people’s parents decide last-minute that their child is not going to the desert to get wasted this weekend.
Avoid: Whiny Company
Curate your group ahead of time with a degree of care and caution that is not quite Regina George–esque but not far off from it. You do not need anyone well rehearsed in complaining to ruin your lovely festivities, nor someone with a low heat/tiredness/bladder control threshold. With the right group you can truly have the trip of a lifetime — think water fights, memorable shoulder sitting during your fave band’s set under the stars, barbecues and more. Leave the mopes at home.
Solution: Enlist your most spontaneously chill friends who can deal with a bit of heat, dancing all night and all the fun of waiting 90 minutes to relieve yourself.
Avoid: Overstuffed Cars
The road trip to Coachella can be half the fun, as you stock up on supplies, whack on your Wayfarers and hit the dusty tracks to Indio. However, it can be tempting to imagine you’re the main character in Into the Wild and your car might come to resemble a camping shop. Plus, in all your excitement you may have agreed to drive your friend’s friend and your friend’s friend’s brother and the girl from the gym who overheard you talking about the festival on the phone in the changing room.
Solution: Split the journey between two cars. Now is not the time to get high and mighty about climate change, even if Radiohead is headlining this year.
Yes, you are an animal. Don’t go getting above your station. Are you an animal who needs to shell out hundreds of dollars for a pop concert then shrivel away to dust in a tiny tent you found at Walmart the day before you leave? No. Coachella-goers needn’t sweat it out under canvas when the whole aim of festival is to be/look/feel fabulously glamorous in contrast to your real life.
Solution: Four words: Ace Hotel, Palm Springs. Book in advance or pray for a cancellation miracle (see aforementioned ticket solution on rich kids’ trips being nixed in the nick of time).
Avoid: Binge-Drinking in the Only Areas Designated for Boozing
A rookie error. Don’t overdo it. The rumors are true — it’s really quite warm here.
Solution: Depending on how nifty you are with a hip flask, it’s an all-round tough one with Coachella’s drinking policies. That said, once you experience the obliterative humidity firsthand, chugging on the very stuff that dehydrates you is neither appealing nor clever. Keep hydrated, keep a check on your intake and use the boring bands’ sets to go soak up your designated mezcal allowance.
Avoid: Cultural Appropriation
I must like dictating to some degree, as I’m a journalist, but I don’t enjoy dictating to people on what to wear. Here, though, I will use this space to gently remind the fan of feathered war bonnets that it’s not really cool to buy one/make one/wear one, and besides, it won’t even shield you from the beaming rays.
Solution: Cowboy-style gear is also under debate. You’re best off with an athleisure-hipster stark white cap and matching tennis whites to reflect the sun and look totally and inoffensively Sweet Valley High. This level of imitation is fine. When in Cali....
Avoid: Packing Your Yoga Mat
There will be no time for that, sonny/missy. This is not that kind of festival. At Glastonbury or Burning Man (the comparisons will stop here: Coachella truly is in its own league), it’s perfectly acceptable to be found doing your down dog or meditating to oblivion. But if discovered in either of these compromising situs at Coachella you may a) be forced to beer-pong till dusk as punishment b) miss your ride to the festival, because whilst chanting your oms the rest of your crew ordered an Uber.
Solution: Get hella fit before you arrive and accept that there will be no time for mindfulness. If you must, find an ambient set for some meditative time swaying at the back under a palm tree. All the snapping cameras and glitter and noise can really disturb one’s Zen, but in spirit of mindfulness, it’s important to be in the moment. Go get a beer and have an amazing time.