The lineup of events thrown in conjunction with Coachella is almost as extensive as event itself. Many folks come just to attend the pool parties, the dance parties and the swag giveaways thrown at local hotels and mansions by various brands and media outlets.
Tricked out with free booze, secret performers and, you know, celebs, these parties inspire attendees to spend weeks perfecting their outfits, physiques, hair, nails, tans, etc. So we too threw on a bathing suit and went to a few.
The Party: Spin House
The Venue: Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs
Time of Day: Saturday afternoon/early evening
Difficulty Getting In: Easy with an RSVP. Even those who hadn't pre-registered were granted access by the particularly welcoming ladies minding the guest list.
The Crowd: Rock hipsters, babes in bikinis and friendly (read: drunk) bros floating around the bathwater pool in captain hats and neon swim trunks.
The Swag: As much free beer and wine as one could tolerate.
The Music: Performances by Nite Jewel, King Tuff, ANTWON, and DJ sets by Chrome Sparks.
Overall Vibe: Held in the smaller of the two pool areas at hipster desert oasis the Ace Hotel, the Spin House was a chill midafternoon hangout sesh that maintained an ultra mellow vibe — possibly exacerbated by all the white wine. While things never got rowdy, there was a lot of beach ball swatting, so to speak. (Well, literally.)
The Party: Neon Carnival
The Venue: The tarmac of a tiny airport in Thermal, CA
Time of Day: Late Saturday night/early Sunday morning
Difficulty Getting In: So, so hard. The guest list was ultra-tight and attendees weren't even allowed near the front gate without a wristband. (“Take one more step towards the exit with your wristband on and you cannot come back in!” a security guard yelled at us.) Hopeful partygoers waited outside scrounging for extra wristbands while dejected looking dudes in the dusty parking lot made last ditch phone calls to those on the inside.
The Crowd: Several thousand of the trendy and the trendier, including Paris and Nicki Hilton, half the cast of Glee, lots of model types, and, awesomely, this OG baller dude named Clint Eastwood.
The Swag: Free booze, free food, free carnival rides (ferris wheel, giant drop, big slide), and the softest Armani t-shirts. Plus as much people watching as your eyes could eat.
The Music: Hyphy mashup DJ sets by Jesse Marco, JUS SKE and Kayper
Overall Vibe: Put on by the L.A. nightlife luminaries at Bolthouse Productions, Neon Carnival is the Hollywood in the desert holy grail of Coachella parties. Now in its third year, this event is a full on carnival with free everything. As one partygoer put it, “I don't care how it sounds, I just prefer hanging with the beautiful people.” As another partygoer put it, “I don't care if Daft Punk is playing with Phoenix right now, I'd rather be here.” And as another partygoer put it, “This is one of the best nights of my life.” The dance floor was still writhing (hard) when we left at 3:30am.
The Party: Guess Hotel
The Venue: Viceroy Hotel, Palm Springs
Time of Day: Sunday afternoon/early evening
Difficulty getting in: Hard
The Crowd: Highly good looking and ultra-trendy. Very Special Guests to this pool party included Chloe Sevigny, two of the Jonas brothers, a slew of starlets, some more people from Glee and an appearance by The Bumbys, the performance artist duo gaining fame for writing short appraisals — on their typewriters — of anyone who stands in front of them. (Ours: “I feel like you just came off the set of a music video for some band that combines dubstep, rap and folk music…”)
The Swag: Free booze and tacos, Guess beach towels, sunglasses fanny packs, headphones, gift cards, fans, and even more top notch swag for anyone who got into the gifting suite at this chic, sexy hotel.
The Music: DJ sets by artists including The Knocks and Classixx.
Overall Vibe: This vibe at this chic fiesta was swanky but relaxed and branded to the point where no one could forget who was throwing the fete, with all of the cocktail waitresses in matching Guess outfits and early nineties-era Claudia Schiffer Guess ads plastered everywhere. Even the cocktail stirrers had a logo.
The Party: REVOLVE x Coachella
The Venue: Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs
Time of Day: Sunday afternoon
Difficulty Getting In: Too damn hard, considering that all in our party had RSVP'd and showed the confirmations to the rude (bordering on hostile) women monitoring The List. Eventually we were granted access, but immediately made the mistake of trying to enter the event through the (unmarked) VIP area. The security guard alerted us of the mistake by laughing at us — hard — and telling us we could check out the “area for the normal people.”
The Crowd: Mellow sunbathers, and then whoever was in the VIP area, which was hard to see as there was literally a fence between the two sections.
The Swag: None to be had in the “normal people section.”
Overall Vibe: Awkward. We left after five minutes.
The Party: Hard Rock Hotel Music Lounge
The Venue: Hotel Zoso, Palm Springs
Time of day: Sunday afternoon/early evening
Difficulty Getting In: Not so hard.
The Crowd: An attractive, eclectic crowd that looked fashionable but rather faded after three days of desert debauchery. Definitely saw one girl peeing in the bushes next to the bathroom.
The Swag: Pharell's new liqueuor Qream. Yes, with a Q, and it tasted like an unsettling mixture of cotton candy and flowers. Also, wine-based cocktails, temporary tattoos and massages. (We briefly fell asleep, hard, in the massage chair.)
The Music: A late afternoon extended set by A-Trak
Overall Vibe: Fun and extremely relaxed, as the crowd was worn the fuck out after three days of partying hard in the desert. That didn't stop everyone with a festival wristband from clearing out at sunset to head to Coachella though.