A Weekend at Coachella Valley Music Festival

After 4 years of admiring past line ups, poring over my friends’ pictures of Coachella and watching countless videos of what the Coachella experience is, I finally got to experience it for myself this year. Of course, the media can only do so much to capture these moments since it is honestly something that needs to be truly experienced, but I wanted to document some of the beautiful moments and struggles that made this first Coachella experience something special.

So if you are curious, here’s a break down of what happened!

THURSDAY

PRE-COACHELLA // CAMPING

TL;DR: We left Los Angeles at 5:00AM to get a camp spot at Lot 5, met some really cool and friendly camping neighbors, slept a LOT and explored the Coachella camping grounds.

My boyfriend Austin and I left Los Angeles at around 5AM and managed to get a decent spot in Lot 5, which is only a 5-10 minute walk from the venue. We got two camping spots stacked on top of each other, so we had plenty of room for both of our cars, three canopies and one huge 8-person tent.

One of the best things about camping at Coachella is the sense of community. It seemed that it obvious from the start to our neighbors that Austin and I were camping newbies at Coachella, but they were very welcoming and offered to help us set up our canopies and tent. We learned that one of our neighbors was from Arizona and the others were from near Santa Barbara. It still astounds me that so many people from all over the country, and even the world, come to Coachella.

After we set up the campsite and recovered from our early morning excursion, we checked out the camping grounds and the camping center, which is the central hub for all of the Coachella campers. We found all the amenities such as the general store, food trucks, booths, artworks and an activities tent chockfull of things to do during our weekend stay. They also had a huge dome like structure with millions of lights for their silent and not so silent disco.

FRIDAY

DAY 1

TL;DR: Day 1 SUCKED due to various reasons: a strong special brownie, dehydration, grogginess, hunger and boyfriend almost passing out from all of the above. Aka Coachella: 1 // Us: 0

The rest of my group finally joined us for Day 1, excited for the weekend to start. Little did we know that this day would be a complete shit show.

We left the venue pretty early in the afternoon (around 1 or 2PM). This turned out to be the HOTTEST time of the day. Five minutes into walking towards the venue and sweat was already dripping down my back. In addition to the intense heat, we had also eaten a special brownie before leaving. This made us tired and groggy the entire day.

To get a sense of what the tiredness and grogginess looked like, here is a picture of us napping in the Gobi tent. Shout out to the Gobi tent for being our home base at Coachella!

Because of the heat and the grogginess, Austin almost passed out due to dehydration during Francis and the Light’s set (very cool set, btw. I’m a fan). This was probably the worst thing that could ever happen on the first day of my first Coachella, but luckily the Coachella community looked out for us. Some passersby gave him water and calmed both of us down, while the security guards that were posted told us to get rest in the shade. I guided Austin out of the Gobi tent and into the shade next to the misting fans, which thankfully helped him a lot.

Day 1 was also the day that I blew too much money on unhealthy, overpriced food. I remember eating an oily Cuban sandwich, Monster fries and a corn dog.

To be completely honest, I was so tired and sleepy by nighttime that I hardly remembered the xx’s set except for Intro. I also remember attending Travis Scott’s set and hearing him say, “I better see all y’all mofo’s getting in that mosh pit.”

And that was it. By the end of the day, I could sense that the overall mood of the group was ending on a negative note. Despite the day’s events, I still hoped that the rest of the weekend would be better.

  

SATURDAY

DAY 2

TL;DR: This day was so much better than Day 1! Top highlights for this day were seeing Two Door Cinema Club, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga live. Also, shout out to our “sugar daddy”, Ricky, for hooking us up with drinks.

After the dreadfulness of Friday, my group and I took what we learned from Day 1 and started it on a better note. We drank alcohol and took *other* recreational goods that would not have us tired and groggy like the brownie. We arrived at the venue much later in the day (around 4PM). We were immediately introduced to our “sugar daddy”, Ricky. Surprisingly, he got us all drinks at the Absolut tent (I’m still not sure how we ended up getting there).

Much of the day was spent taking lots of pictures of each other and of the artwork, trying out moscow mule ice cream, hopping on to the massive ferris wheel and experiencing dope sets from Two Door Cinema Club, Future, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga. I made sure to keep myself awake by drinking coffee and only spent money on one overpriced order of two small Pilipino fusion tacos (can’t really avoid overpriced food at this point).

Day 2 was hands down better than Day 1, and by the time I fell asleep, I was excited to see what Day 3’s adventures would bring.

  

SUNDAY

DAY 3

TL;DR: SO LIT! This day convinced me to come back again and re-experience another crazy Coachella weekend. Top highlights: Kendrick’s set, The Antarctica dome and our amazing camping neighbors for helping my jump my car.

Day 3 was honestly the perfect end to a crazy, illuminating first Coachella experience. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but I will try.

We made sure to check out places that we couldn’t get to go to during the past couple of days, such as the Sephora booth and The Antarctica dome. The 360 visual experience inside the dome, Chrysalis, was so incredible that I saw it again at the end of the night.

The line up was incredibly stacked, starting with Mura Masa at the start of our day, and Porter Robinson and Madeon later during the night, which was an incredible last performance even while sober. Austin and I *dropped* during this set and it finally kicked in once it ended. We jumped around from Hans Zimmer, Lorde, Kehlani and finally, Kendrick Lamar. I wish I could fully describe Kendrick’s set into words to recreate the experience, but these things are better experienced in person. AKA go to Coachella next year to experience the wonders of live music while on another level!

Unfortunately, the night did not end without a hiccup. It turned out that the battery for my car died over the weekend, so I turned to a camping neighbor who happened to be awake at 2:30AM. Not only did she have jumper cables, but she also offered to drive her car over to mine and help us figure out how to jump it (we were all had 0 experience with jumping cars). After poring over the manual and getting all the cables to link up to the correct spots, my car was brought back to life.

And so the hiccup faded and as we fell asleep, we left the serendipitous weekend behind us.

THE LESSON

Every trip has a lesson, and as I drove down the 10 Higway with music from the Coachella weekend flooding through my veins, I finally realized the purpose behind this experience. At the Antarctica, the 360* visual experience called Chrysalis shows incredible visuals that replicate a metamorphosis. I realized that Coachella was exactly what Chrysalis was – a metamorphic experience that acts as a vehicle for self-discovery, renewal, and creation of new life and feelings. Despite the obvious struggles at the beginning of the weekend, the music and the good vibes from the great people I was surrounded with uplifted everyone’s spirits. The weekend could not have ended on a more rejuvenated and refreshing note.

Coachella also introduced me to drug culture in music festivals, and helped me fully recognize it on another level. It’s something that is not spoken about explicitly, but it is still silently appreciated and understood.

All of these moments and memories have made me excited to see what the next Coachella will bring.

Overall — Coachella, I am ready for you next year!

If you have read this far, thank you so much for being interested and curious about my journey at Coachella. Please leave a comment below if you went to Coachella this year, or let me know if you’ve ever had a “metamorphic” experience similar to this. I know I have been on a small hiatus, but I promise to have more blog content (and hopefully more video content as well). Stay tuned!

A Day in Downtown LA

Although I have been living in Los Angeles for nearly 5 years now, there are still areas within this monumental city that I still don’t know. Downtown LA is definitely on that list. I have visited DTLA before, but I can still count the number of sparse visits I have had on my hand. So when my boyfriend Austin and I finally booked a Paint Nite in the heart of DTLA, I knew that this was also an opportunity for me to explore a piece of my 5-year home a little more in one day.
Whether you’re traveling from much farther away or you live 20 minutes away, Downtown LA is perfect for a one day outing. If you’re interested, check out how I spent my day in DTLA!

PARKING
Like much of LA, parking is terrible in DTLA, especially during the weekend. We found parking in one of the lots that charge $10-20 for the whole day. It’s still pricy, but at least it covers for the whole day and you don’t have to worry too much about it once you pay. If you’re lucky, you can find street metered parking, but that only covers for several hours at a time, which can be inconvenient if you want to spend more time out in the city.

THINGS TO DO
Paint Nite
Paint Nite is essentially a painting class that you take while drinking an alcoholic beverage (although drinking is not required to paint, it definitely gets interesting + boosts your confidence level when you have a buzz going while painting). They have tons of paintings and locations to choose from. Austin and I reserved spots at the Paint Nite in the El Compadre Restaurant, which is right next to the Staples Center. We went inside, chose seats, ordered drinks and began painting once the class started. It was honestly so much fun! Although the teacher sped through the lesson, she was very experienced and understanding of everyone’s skill sets. At the end of the paint session, Austin and I brought home our own versions of Flight of the Fireflies. If you want a fun girl’s night out, a date with your significant other or even a date with yourself, I highly recommend it! GroupOn usually has deals for Paint Nite, where you can get the tickets at nearly half the price, so I definitely suggest going through the GroupOn deals first before purchasing!
The Last Bookstore
If you know me, I absolutely love books and consider myself a bibliophile. So it isn’t a surprise when I say the bulk of our day in DTLA was dedicated to The Last Bookstore. This was my third time at this bookshop and it never fails to disappoint. It’s smaller than Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, but The Last Bookstore is still very sizable. Austin and I spent around 2-3 hours after our Paint Nite session, just roaming through the shelves, stopping to read excerpts from books and admire all of the tomes poking out through the shelves. We spent a lot of time upstairs on the second floor looking through the sci-fi/fantasy novels and examining the artworks. I usually am tempted to buy books whenever I go to a bookstore, but that day I resisted the temptation and reaffirmed myself that I would be coming back again to buy a book one day.
Walking Around
Honestly I had a lot of fun aimlessly walking around DTLA for the fun of it. It’s much grittier than what I am used to on the westside, but the architecture and food that permeate the air are rich with culture. Don’t be afraid to stop and window show or take pictures of the city like I did!
DINING
7th Street Cafe
This cafe was one of the closest to The Last Bookstore, so we took a stroll to the location to grab dinner. 7th Street Cafe is a pretty small cafe with limited seating. However the food is very decadent and savory. It’s perfect for when you have “drunchies” and “munchies”– delicious and heavy on the carbs and fat. I tried to be healthy with their California Benedict, but I was definitely eyeing their loaded fries and their famous chick on a stick combo. It will be something to look out for when I go back.

Although we did not do too much during our day and didn’t fully plan out what we were going to do after our Paint Nite, it was refreshing to be in a part of Los Angeles that I wasn’t used to. It is important to still be a tourist in your own city, regardless of how much time you have lived in it. Everyday is  a new experience for me, and visiting DTLA was one of those new experiences that help to broaden my perspective of LA. Sometimes exploring the city you live in can almost be taken for granted, but this year I want to make sure I explore more of this little piece of home I have constructed.