For music lovers, opting to skip Coachella and do a party-only excursion is a tough decision. The obvious pros (money saved, leg muscles spared, obnoxious concert-goers avoided) don't really lessen the bummer of missing the amazing assortment of live music. Or do they? Coachella's YouTube channel allowed us to watch most of our favorites on our laptop in cool comfort, and our Saturday jaunt to Palm Springs consisted of pool lounging, swag collecting, dancing and (free) drinking and eating. Lots of the latter, we might add. Since it's a fun weekend for the acts playing Coachella as well, most of them are doing the same thing when not rocking the stage, so we got to hang with a few too.
Still, even for someone who often hits three LA events in one night like we do, figuring out a viable itinerary for the bounty of Coachella bashes was a bit difficult. We were as ambitious with our Saturday soiree list as we have been the past 10 years covering bands on the polo field. Our goal? Four, possibly five fetes by day and two by night. Read on for our party tally (arranged by time) along with a survey on swag, trends, and the moments of brilliance that only happen when free booze and party mongers collide in the hot, hot heat:
Mist Lounge (Noon-1:30)
At the Agua Caliente Casino, one of the first casinos off the 10 freeway driving into Palm Springs from LA, this three-day party promised a swimsuit fashion show and celebrity DJs. Since we hit it first, it wasn't exactly packed, but there was the expected array of perky boobies in bikinis, tribal tattooed muscle boys and mirrored sunglasses reflecting off of everything. Even though the DJ, Josh Madden (Good Charlotte's guys non-twin bro) was pretty good, the loud beats he was spinning were too hard and too thumping for the noon time lounger crowd. He deserved a better slot. Also, the drinks were not free. We left around 1:30.
The Look: Tight bods, skimpy swimwear and high heels.
The Swag: BCBG sunglasses on every lounge chair.
The Talk: "In LA everybody looks like Paris Hilton, don't they?" No. No they don't.
Lacoste L!ve Pool Party (1:45-3:45)
With all the hub-bub about wristband checkpoints driving into the vicinity of the polo field, we were apprehensive about attending any event too close. A couple of party invites (Belvedere, Vestal, Flaunt) touted themselves as being near it, but thankfully, they weren't so close that we had to encounter traffic. In fact (fest-goers be jealous) we were able to avoid traffic all together the whole weekend. Lacoste's event was one of the most crowded, however, requiring parking several blocks down from check-in. Thankfully, the organizer provided golf cart escorts from our cars to the entrance and since we happened to arrive at the same time as MEN, we hopped a ride with the band and subsequently, ended up being in a little vacay video JD Samson happened to be filming.
Parking it under an umbrella'd bench to chomp on food truck grub, our table became a sort of makeshift "press tent" as DJ Ana Calderon joked after we started shooting the shit (and shooting pics) of everyone from Elijah Wood (look for him to spin at Calderon's No America at El Cid, possibly as soon as this Thursday) and I'm Boy Crazy's Alexi Wasser (with "Awesome" kids book author Dallas Clayton). Also seen amidst Lacoste's blow up alligator pool props: Adrian Grenier, Alexander Sarsguard and Kirsten Dunst. Shout-out to DJ Chris Holmes who did an awesome job on the decks spinning a mix of classic rock, retro indie and hip-hop. Maybe our favorite party DJ set on Saturday.
The Look: High waisted shorts. Floppy hats. Mismatched separates.
The Swag: Lacoste towels and wristbands, HTC Coachella Survival kits (earplugs, sunscreen, wipes, deodorant, mini flashlight)
The Talk: "Bro! I just had a great idea. I want make t-shirts that say, "Bro-Chella!"
Vestal Village (4-5)
By the time we arrived at this shindig sponsored by the ubercool watch company, it was close to triple digit heat. The party, at another sprawling desert estate, offered DJs spinning in a bright red and blue Red Bull-sponsored DJ booth. We'd hoped to see Junkie XL, but he wasn't on deck. A camping area saw lethargic bodies lounging about while a small PBR-can-littered pool area packed in a fashionable and friendly crowd. But it was dwindling and it appeared most were leaving or had left for the fest. After a fully-clothed drenching under the party's Paul Mitchell sponsored outdoor showers (our dress was dry in like 5 minutes) we followed their lead.
The Look: LOTS of script/word tattoos.
The Swag: Paul Mitchell samples, Pull-In bathing suits and towels.
The Talk: "It's satan's balls hot."
A Club Called Rhonda/Scion shindig at Ace Hotel (6-8)
The Ace Hotel scheduled events all weekend, under the name Desert Gold, but the most flamboyant and shamelessly foxy flocked to the rager thrown by LA's own A Club Called Rhonda. The polysexy pool party had some of the most interesting clothing statements (and we mean statements) we've seen in one place, period, not just in Palm Springs. Hedonism oozed from the every corner of the packed party: couples making out, girl posses doing shots, femmy fellows grinding on each other. One gal overindulged in something and had to be carried out by an ambulance. Many were kicked out for not having the proper wristband. This was "the place" to be if yow weren't at the fest, for sure.
The look: Multi-colored hair, caftans, cutouts, Technicolor nail polish... the more unique style, the better.
The swag: none. This bash was -refreshingly- not about celebrities or product placements or corporate sponsors, though Sailor Jerry's had a big presence at the bar.
The Talk: "I'm officially off the wagon. Whoo-hoo!"
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Day party tally: Four. We missed only Belvedere's event (and a planned pow-wow with Taryn Manning who was deejaying) and Flaunt's fete at the Trousdale Estate. Not bad.
Two more parties to go! Read all about the after dark Coachella parties here.
See hot shots from all the above parties in our Nightranger slideshow.
Follow us on Twitter at @L_in_A.