By Janday Wilson
I have arrived.
That was the thought that immediately came to my mind as my boyfriend and I made our way down to baggage claim and I saw our driver waiting at the bottom of the escalator, holding up a ‘Janday Wilson’ sign.
I kept telling my friends that I would not believe that I was going to Coachella until I was on the festival grounds, but the reality began to sink in during the six hour flight from PHL to LAX and when I saw the driver from the car service waiting for our arrival.
The entire experience felt surreal to me, from the moment my boyfriend called to tell me that he won the Heineken – two.one.five magazine Coachella contest to now as I am typing these words.
I can count on one hand the amount of times I have won anything cool, and it was certainly never anything of this magnitude: a roundtrip flight, car service to and from LAX, a 4 night stay at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, and two VIP tickets to Coachella Weekend One.
I remember falling to my knees, weak from the heady feeling of pure joy that came over me when my boyfriend gave me the news. The days in between that phone call to our arrival at LAX were a blur.
Despite the fact that we had just come off of a delayed six hour flight and I should have been suffering from jet lag, I could not take my eyes off of the Los Angeles skyline as we made the two-and-a-half hour trek to Indian Wells where we would be resting our heads for the next four nights.
We arrived at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells after 1 a.m. but the resort’s plushness was still very visible at night. I wanted to leap out of the car and hug every palm tree that came into sight. The resort looked like paradise while shrouded in darkness and even more amazing in the daylight.
Heineken set us up really well. Our room was massive, with two queen-sized beds and a balcony that overlooked the pool area. The resort had several pools and hot tubs that we briefly enjoyed and a lot of activities that we did not have the time to do. We wanted to spend as much time as possible at the Empire Polo Club while we were out there.
Heineken staff members were so helpful and gracious all weekend, and made sure everything went smoothly for us. The shuttle drivers were great and brought us quickly and safely to and from Indio. A special shoutout must go to Steve who waited patiently for me and my boyfriend to knock back some brews on the Heineken party bus and drove around with a cooler of water that was so necessary before and after Coachella.
The Empire Polo Club grounds were vast. I praised Dr. Scholls after every night of exploratory trips between stages, forays to VIP for food, and endless hours of standing, dancing and jumping. We went to the General Admission parking lot once and it was slightly traumatizing, so I thank Heineken for the VIP tickets and the shuttle that dropped us off at the VIP entrance every day.
We were so spoiled. The VIP areas were great to kick back in when my feet screamed for relief; and they had a nice mix of food trucks, including some of the freshest, most delectable sushi . We did not do much celeb spotting in VIP, aside from glimpses of the Odd Future boys and Diddy’s son Quincy, because we spent most of our time going wild at the shows.
These are the acts we saw, whether it was for the full set or five minutes in passing: Divine, Fits, Metric, Of Monsters and Men, Passion Pit, Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Purity Ring, FOALS, Theophilus London, Action Bronson, Savages 2 Chainz, Bat for Lashes, Major Lazer, Grizzly Bear, Pusha T, Two Door Cinema, Club, Janelle Monae, James Blake, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Wu-Tang Clan, and Disclosure.
There were some shows that we were dying to see but couldn’t because their set times conflicted with other acts, or we did not make it to the Empire Polo Club grounds in time. Normally, I would freak out about my lack of control over the shows that I was missing but Coachella forced me to learn how to let go and go with the flow.
So what if I missed R. Kelly randomly popping up during the Phoenix set or Solange performing with The xx? I still got to see some amazing shows. I did not miss Karen O doing some unprecedented acts with her mic, I experienced Purity Ring’s ethereal cover of Soulja Boy, was in spitting distance of Solange at the Grizzly Bear show, watched Yannis crowd surf while he shredded his guitar, and dropped it low for the cameras at the front of the Major Lazer show (my friends definitely caught me during the Coachella livecast).
If I took a shot for every crown of flowers, Native American headdress, crop top, and HUF, Supreme, and OBEY hat I saw I would have been a very drunk girl during Coachella. But I can attest to the fact that you do not need any stimulants, natural or unnatural, to enjoy the festival. However, your neighbor will certainly be willing to share his or her goods with you. There are very generous people in the desert.
Coachella Weekend One as a Heineken winner was an experience I will always remember vividly, from the highs of getting access to VIP treatment and seeing performers that I love framed by blue, sunny skies and palm trees to the lows of soaking my pained body in nightly hot baths and that epic sandstorm I hope to never experience again in my life. I adored every bit of it.
Thank you so much Heineken and two.one.five magazine!