Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Camping Coachella

It's eight am and the heat is already punishing. Bare limbs, tanned brown in the desert sun, sprawl haphazardly out of open sleeping bags and across inflatable mattresses. An occasional groan rises up: gentle resignation to the morning.


Welcome to Coachella 2012, a three-day celebration of art, showcasing major names in music and exploring the boundaries of sculpture and interactive visual media. Our crew opted for car camping this year, setting up house April 20-22. 

Temperatures heralded the beginning of summer. Soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat left festival goers sweating in the shade. A layer of dirt and grime greeted us at the gates and remained a fixture throughout. Even after the rare (and heavenly) shower, the filth returned with zeal.


 But the shit and dust and grease were integral. They fueled the reckless abandon that made this three day party so epic. Camping, I dare say synonymous with suffering this weekend, was the only way to go. Sure there were moments when I teetered on collapse, but pushing boundaries was half the fun. 

In fact, I would say Coachella is designed to push your boundaries, whether or not you choose to camp. With simultaneous sets on five stages from 11am to midnight, endless interactive exhibits, food and booze, a ferris wheel, and plenty more, it's really impossible to do everything. The conflicting awesomeness forces you to choose between  a great spot for a headliner like Radiohead, and mediocre proximity if you want to bounce between shows. It's built-in crowd control. 


So, here's the nitty gritty on camping: eight of us (4 boys, 4 girls) rented 2 car companion spots, and shared that space comfortably. Car camping (basically tailgating) was great because we could lock up our valuables during the day, and there was no schlepping  of heavy equipment between the car and the campsite.

Our absolutely essential equipment: 
-Four large canopies (covering the whole site)
-coolers full of Beer (no bottles allowed, only cans) and ice ($10/bag at the festival)
-Hot dogs and pasta were big hits for communal meals
-Water!!! (about 7 gallons/person). I brought extra to wash my face and to brush my teeth. Sounds small but boosted morale tremendously. Don't rely on showering.
-Baby wipes
-Toilet paper and individual wet ones for porta potty adventures (the potties really weren't too bad though!)
Camping Coachella allowed the festival to become it's own logistics-free little world. For a few days, music, art, good friends, and a rare awareness of one's own physicality materialized from the desert's red dust. It's an experience not to be missed.  

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