Coachella is so close! In the meantime, Pre Chella has arrived!
I started my day today the same way I would if I were at work-with Wendy’s Hot Topics!
After about a half hour I tore myself away from the television and set off for the journey to the desert. I knew that I needed some things before we got to our destination. You see, once your car is on site you cannot leave until Sunday. I mean, you can, but they won’t allow any re-entry. So, I think it’s better to enter with as many supplies as possible.
After I bought those items, we went to a grocery store to purchase a disposable cooler and some DRY ICE! A little dry ice in the cooler can last all weekend if you keep it in the shade with regular ice. That’s an essential for the campsite.
Though Indio, CA is only about a two and a half hour drive from LAX airport, when there’s traffic the travel time can vary greatly. This is really important because on “Pre-Chella” day the longer you wait to start the trip the longer it takes to get there. I was eager to get going, but the gridlocked traffic around LAX didn’t agree. A long drive is perfect for music so I put some on and adjusted my seat for the ride!
— JermaineCoachella (@jermaine) April 13, 2018
It ended up taking over five hours to make that drive. According to the maps application, there were six accidents causing slowdowns between my starting point and my destination.
When I finally arrived, the sun had already set. Setting up the tent and meeting the neighbors would have to occur by light of the giant area lights throughout the campgrounds. I prefer to arrive while it’s bright so I can set my tent up and meet my neighbors, but that wasn’t in the cards this year.
Once you arrive on the property, your car and all of your belongings are searched for weapons and all the things you’re not supposed to have. Make no mistake, having teams of two searching each and every car is a bottleneck, but we were lucky in that there weren’t too many cars there and we drove right up to a search team without having to wait. I rolled my window down and said what’s up to one of the security officers. “You guys have any cocaine, pills or drugs on you?” I gave that security guard the biggest screw face—AS IF?!
After the security check, our high tech festival wristbands were scanned for entry. And after two quick scans we were in. Not my ideal arrival time, but the security check was pretty chill so I’ll take that. This process can vary wildly btw. A general rule of thumb is to be friendly with any festival staff. They can make your weekend a nightmare if you give them reason to. They are usually local and pretty chill. A friendly word or kind gesture can go a long way toward actually getting through a checkpoint quickly. Avoid slick remarks. They are checking for glass, metal tent stakes, weapons, and drugs.
We then made a slow and winding journey through the campgrounds to our spot. Each car camping vehicles gets a 10X30 lot. You park your car and set up your campsite behind it. We were directed to head down to a less trafficked area, but decided to pretend like we didn’t hear that as we made a slow bee-line to get a better spot. It worked, and I’m pretty happy with the spot!
After getting the campsite set up, I went around and introduced myself to my neighbors. There’s two guys on one side from Switzerland and on the other side of me, a Russian couple from Moscow. Finding this out really made me happy because one of my favorite things about Coachella is that it draws people from all over the world. As the weekend goes on, I’ll have tons of conversations about music and concerts and life with Coachella attendees. And these conversations are a cheat sheet to discovering new music.
There is a cold storage service at camping where you can drop beer off and they’ll keep it cold for you — and sometimes even deliver it directly to you via bicycle rickshaw if you’re really lucky. So I was eager to drop that beer off. Letting them cool the beer means I can have a much smaller cooler, and purchase less ice over the weekend.
The main camping area has an internet lounge. A swanky spot to take photos and selfies sponsored by a lifestyle brand. An activities tent with a DJ and dance floor. There’s a boutique that sells clothes. That’s new. There’s also a giant dome with lights, a DJ and tons of excited coachellans dancing the night away. After 2 am this club turns into a silent disco where they turn the speakers off and give everyone headphone to continue the party.
Camping food is pretty typical here: pizza, burgers, noodles, lemonade. The best food options are in the festival and that area won’t open until 11am tomorrow.
The weather was mild during the day here so that means that the night would be cold. At this point, the temps were in the 50s so I wanted to change into my hoodie.
Once I did that, I asked my neighbors if I could join them for a bit and they were eager to accept. And that makes for a great Pre Chela day. It’s too chilly to stay up and hang too long. Most campers are turning in. With it feeling chilly, my sleeping bag is calling my name. Until tomorrow!