THINK the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is all about roughing it? Think again.
While many old-school Coachella boosters camp on-site in tents, a growing gaggle of the festival's fans are heading off to splashy $2,000-a-night house rentals and swank parties.
In fact, an entire ancillary scene has developed in the Coachella Valley over the last five years, with many Angelenos making the trek to the desert exclusively for parties only loosely connected with the main event.
Among the myriad choices this year: a GQ magazine happening at the Viceroy featuring DJ Paul Sevigny; a T-Mobile soiree in an airplane hangar; Anthem magazine's annual pool party; Tokio bar owner Danny B's after-hours Saturday night shindig with DJ Dave Dresden; Filter magazine's annual kickoff event tonight; Spin magazine's party Friday with Perry Farrell; Dim Mak's Sunday afternoon blowout; and perhaps the festival's most-buzzed-about (invitation-only) bash, BPM magazine/Paramount's the Smurf Village (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the cartoon).
"Every year, there are great parties going on around the festival," BPM vice president of marketing Matt Colon says. "As soon as word got out about our event, the response has been overwhelming."
But Smurf Village is hardly the only party for those seeking respite from the heat (not to mention the $7 beers inside the festival grounds).
"This is actually the first year that we've hired some private security just in case things get out of hand," says Anthem publisher Andreas Herr. Anthem has thrown pool parties during Coachella for the last three years, catering to many who skip the festival entirely.
"A majority of our guests come from L.A. due to the close proximity," Herr says, "but a lot are from major markets across the U.S. as well."
Companies such as T-Mobile, Adidas and the Gap (sponsoring the GQ bash) are keen to throw lavish events for the festival's prized demographic.
"This is where trends start," says Peter Hunsinger, vice president and publisher of GQ. "The people who come to Coachella go home and influence all their peers and friends and work associates and family. They become the agents of change that every client wants to make a part of their marketing outreach. If you are not here, you are not there."
Adds Tashion Macon, a senior promotions manager for T-Mobile: "We found that Coachella really works when it comes to targeting the young and social consumer."
So what can "young and social" types lucky enough to wrangle up an invite to T-Mobile's bash expect?
For starters, an open bar all night. Factor in DJ sets from Steve Aoki and a crush of celebs like Carmen Electra, and you have a party more fit for Hollywood than a music festival.
But not everyone thinks dropping thousands on a Palm Springs-area house (or airport hangar) is worth the effort. Urb magazine is passing on throwing a bash.
Josh Glazer, the mag's editor, says, "Sometimes you look up from your free (insert vodka sponsor) and (insert energy drink sponsor) and think, 'Hey, isn't there a concert going on?' "
TONIGHT: Filter Magazine's sixth annual Coachella kickoff party, location revealed with RSVP, open to the public. Limited spots at www.filter-mag .com/CoachellaRSVP.
FRIDAY: GQ's "Rock Party," invite only, Viceroy Hotel. 12 a.m.-3 a.m.
Spin's "Friends and Family," invite only, undisclosed location.
Flaunt magazine's Music Loves Fashion party, invite only, Horizon Hotel. Also Sat.-Sun.
ATURDAY: Danny B Productions' "Hotel California," open to the public. Desert Palm Inn, 67-580 Highway 111, Cathedral City. 9 p.m.-5 a.m. $30. (310) 560-3540. www.wantickets.com /hotelcalifornia.
T-Mobile Sidekick party, undisclosed location, invite only. 11 p.m.-2 a.m.
Adidas Party, invite only (Palm Springs).
SATURDAY-SUNDAY: BPM's "Smurf Village," undisclosed location, invite only. Noon-6 p.m.
Anthem Magazine's "La Fiesta de Fiestas," location revealed with RSVP confirmation (limited number for magazine readers). Noon-6 p.m. www.anthem magazine.com/rsvp
Dim Mak's party, 1-9 p.m. Sun., location with RSVP confirmation (limited spots: firstname.lastname@example.org)