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Pop & Hiss

Coachella 2015: Outside the VIP area, a tale of two festivals

Coachella is comparatively luxe nowadays, even for those who don't buy VIP tickets, but at what cost?

Paris Hilton arrived at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio Friday through the VIP entrance, of course.

But then, so did seemingly hundreds of other attendees who were not Paris Hilton or Kanye or even C-list reality stars.

The VIP areas of Coachella have been expanded over the years, as have the multitude of packages one can buy to ensure their experience is closer to that of Hilton’s than the non-VIPs out on the general admission field. Have a four course meal in a private setting or sit on a comfy couch next to other cocktail-sipping VIPs.

FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2015

But no matter where you stand (or sit) on the Empire Polo Grounds, where the annual festival takes place, there’s no real roughing it at Coachella anymore.

On the main grounds the air-conditioned Yuma dance tent feels like an exclusive club, mammoth art installations provide eye candy and shade (the giant, slow-moving snail from 2013 is now a giant, slow-moving caterpillar) and food choices are more refined.


For the Record, 10:54 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said a giant snail appeared on the Coachella grounds last year. It was part of the festival in 2013.


Essentially, the desert event’s expanding VIP culture is now informing the rest of the festival.

Sure, those who paid upward of $900 for VIP access were able to watch acts on the main stage, from Azealia Banks to AC/DC, standing steps above the majority of general admission attendees (it costs less than $400 for an entry-level wristband).

They could eat from the raw vegan food kiosk or celebrity-watch, though the results were rather disappointing since the non-famous now outnumber the fabulous in the VIP area 100 to one. They could also brave a mist machine at the risk of ruining their hair.

Those outside the VIP area might have stood in longer lines to enter the venue, sat on the grass and witnessed unspeakable horrors in the restroom areas (bad enough to make anyone’s glow stick dim). But from the shaded arbors to the air-conditioned Sephora makeover tent, theirs too was a fairly catered experience.

COACHELLA 2015: Your survival guide

That should be a good thing, right? But by continually expanding these luxe amenities, the basic cost of attending the fest has risen beyond the reach of many who’d probably like to see Kaskade or Alabama Shakes but would also like to pay the rent and eat.

As a result, the demographics of Coachella aren't terribly broad. It’s mainly white, mainly well-heeled, mainly a crowd who could be mistaken for Paris Hilton or whomever her male counterpart is now.

The tale of two Coachella’s does not exist on the ground at the festival. It’s instead a divide between those inside the venue and those priced out entirely. But, hey, for those about to rock, we salute you and your overpriced cocktail.

Follow me @LorraineAli

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