I went there for the first time in the early 2000’s. And what amazes me, is how underground, and how private it really was back in the day.
Up until the last few years, social media didn’t exist. So, when you went places, it was all about how to remember the experience. You were present and never trying to convey it through anything else other than your memories. I used to take photos with an old film loaded Yashika or Pentax camera. So that if and when I was ready to relive the experience, I would have to go to the lab and request to see if my photos were done and ready to look at. And then I would pour through Tmax Kodak 3200 black and white 4 by 6 prints. Not only did the photos look like a cooler version of what I saw, it would give me a memory that was more like an artistic filter of what kind of weekend I had. Grabbing light in snap shots of bands and people in unique ways and making it look like a dream to my eye rather than in my mind.
What I really loved was getting lost in the music. Blur, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, MIA. Or being on the forefront of Amy Winehouse on the small stage. You never knew where the hot new band would be and yet so intimate was the experience. It was only the headliners at night that were the “for sures”, but it was running to Jenny Lewis or LCD Sound System if you could make it from one side of the field to another” in time to see them. And the running and the ducking and shoving to see that band, would bring you to laughter, hoping you didn’t lose your friends along the way! And at that time, if you made good time, you could get to the front. You could get on the stage! There were no texts or alerts of where you should go. You would just run into other members of your crew along the way and either share what you just saw or get swept up in their tide. Onto the next set.
One thing that gives me that rear view mirror joy, wether it was day or night, year after year, songs drenched in palm tree swayed air, was the fact that I felt like I could do whatever I wanted at festivals fashion and make up wise. I could swipe silver pigment across my forehead. Wear my chalky white eyeliner to my temple, pajama pants from china town, and a feather in my hair. Trucking around in Wellie Hunter boots, I would tuck my skirt in to my underwear so that it looked like I had a cape for pants with high leg slits. Everything goes at music festivals and I love that.
At that time there were no photographers and no Instagram. Not even cell phones. And as much as I want to wax poetic about the old days, I also love that Coachella, in particular, has become a defining cultural phenomenon. Kudos to you Coachella and all those millennials that have made it truly an “All American” style. Because to share in our experience and make it accessible is the best outcome of social media. To influence and inspire. But to make it also relatable to people that can’t get there. A revolving Woodstock of this generation that is purchasable. Is this good or bad? I’m going with good. Coachella has evolved into something very special. I have a lot of appreciation for when I was there, as a free girl, wandering those Indio desert fields. They were good times. And as they say, “let the good times roll.” But most of all, use it as a platform or a destination to let your true inner style out into the wild. There are no rules. Just play.
Have fun. Get lost. And express. And don’t forget to look up from your phone from time to time.
Images // popsugar.com / usmagazine.com / Rex Features / style.com
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