Coachella

It’s the morning after my week-long adventure in Southern California, and I have a hangover. Not the kind of hangover that’s induced by drinking and partying (though there was certainly some of that), but a travel hangover.

If you’ve traveled a lot, you know what I’m talking about. The afterglow of a fantastic trip can feel a little weird. I’m both sad that it’s over and super happy that I had so much fun.

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I had planned to do a lot of social media posting over the course of the week, but I should’ve known better. Despite my blogging and social media aspirations, I like to live in the moment. The last thing I wanted to do was look at my phone. Coachella was such a fun and unique experience: lots of music, dancing, art and good vibes.

My boyfriend Logan and I decided to go to Coachella on a whim a couple of months ago. We’d literally just started dating at the time, so the idea was pretty spontaneous. We’ve both been super excited ever since buying our tickets – and the experience definitely lived up to the hype.

We left for Los Angeles last Wednesday morning at 1:30 a.m., stopping for breakfast on the way to O’Hare. We’d booked an early flight (6 a.m.) so that we could arrive in LA in time to enjoy a full beach day before driving out to Palm Springs.

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I’m so glad we did. We stayed at a little inn near Manhattan Beach, right on the water. We spent the day riding bikes along the shore, eating Mexican food and enjoying the sun. We had dinner at a gourmet pork and burger place down the street before passing out at 7 p.m.

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The next morning, we set out for Palm Springs! The drive was beautiful, with mountainous terrain and bright blue skies. Coachella takes place in Indio, about 45 minutes from Palm Springs, right in the middle of the desert. It was hot. Really hot. (Though it got pretty cool and windy after sunset.)

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After setting up camp and ordering some pizza, we started making friends with other festival-goers at our campsite. We met a lot of cool people over the course of the week. People from all over the world come to Coachella – we met Aussies, Americans, Kiwis, Brits, Canadians and everyone in between.

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On Friday morning, we headed over to the festival grounds. We were some of the first people to arrive at the festival, so we got to see what the grounds looked like with only a few hundred people there. The LA Times reported that about 100,000 people attended the festival daily this year – it’s hard to conceptualize just how many people that is until you experience it firsthand. It’s crazy to see that many people in an event space.

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The Coachella grounds are well-equipped to deal with the crowds, though. It’s hard to explain how perfectly designed the festival is. It’s basically a huge light show, decked to the nines with art, lights, landscaping, and some of the coolest stages and venues I’ve ever seen. There are six large stages, two smaller dance tents, beer gardens, food stalls, shaded knolls and hills, interactive art displays, and lots of space in between for the 100,000 people at the festival to navigate.

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Because we ventured out so early on Friday, we were super tired by the end of the night. We forced ourselves to stay awake for the last act (Purity Ring) because we both really wanted to see their show. But on Saturday, we went out a little later in the day, having learned our lesson.

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And yet there were still more lessons to learn. Important rule: PICK A PLACE TO MEET UP IN CASE YOU GET SEPARATED. Logan wanted to go to a show that I wasn’t really interested in, so I decided I’d take a walk around the grounds to explore and relax. I was all like, “yeah, just stay by the stage and I’ll come find you in a bit!” Uh, nope. Again, there are 100,000 people at Coachella every day.

So we spent about an hour looking for each other before we ran into each other near the food stalls. It was kind of scary, actually, because our phones were dead and Logan was carrying my wallet in his backpack. Kids, if you ever go to Coachella, pick a meeting place.

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Saturday and Sunday were both equally bright and enjoyable. There’s something beautiful about the mentality of a music festival. People are very open, friendly, and looking to connect with others. Everyone hugs, no one judges, and the music puts everyone in a really great mood.

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We did a lot of dancing. There was a lot of EDM going on, but other genres were well-represented too. My favorite act was CHVRCHES … I am now completely in love with Lauren Mayberry. Other great acts were Major Lazer, Snails, Calvin Harris, Run the Jewels, Grimes, LCD Soundsystem, A$AP Rocky and Purity Ring. I’m kinda beating myself up over not going to see Ice Cube, though, because he brought out Kendrick Lamar as a surprise guest.

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Coachella is all about the music in theory, but there’s also a big focus on appearances, obviously. Coachella is a major fashion event at this point, and since I’m not too cool for anything, I had a lot of fun picking out some festival-style outfits.

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On Day 1, I wore a crochet crop top from Forever21 (shoutout to my sister Aleda for finding this one) with some pink shorts I’ve had for a looooong time. I also wore an arm charm from Free People and sunglasses from Torrid. For shoes, I wore my absolute favorite boots, which I got from Steve Madden a few years ago (they are now falling apart, though, so if you know of any similar styles please let me know!). I didn’t get any full pics of this outfit, but you can kind of see it in this nighttime photo as well as the Besame Mucho pic (you know, the kissy one) earlier in this post.

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I affectionately titled my Day 2 look “Queen of the Sun.” I found this awesome flowy maxi skirt from a thrift store in Chicago, and paired it with a black crop top from Free People. My necklace was from A’GACI, my shoes were classic ballet flats from Gap, and I wore my Free People arm charm again.

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On Day 3, I wore my favorite boots with another pair of shorts I’ve had forever. My blue crop top is from Anthropologie and my necklace is from A’GACI.

Monday morning dawned bright and early. We woke up before the coffee had even been brewed, and had a minor moment of panic when we thought it wasn’t going to be served. We packed up our tent and drove our rental car back to LA, where we spent the following day at Venice Beach. Once again, we rode bikes, went out to eat and walked along the beach. We also explored Santa Monica for a while before catching our flight home on Tuesday.

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All in all, Coachella was an amazing experience. I definitely hope to attend more music festivals in the future. It was a beautiful, big party with lots of fun people and incredible music. And, duh, lots of dancing. I think I want to try a more laid-back festival next time though. The downside of Coachella’s massive attendance is that standing in line for the bathrooms or water is kind of inconvenient. I really don’t have any complaints, though – I had a wonderful time and am so glad I went. Hopefully there are more music festival adventures around the corner.

As they say in Indio, Happy Coachella!

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