Coachella Confession: The Ugly Truth Not On Instagram

Finally my Coachella Festival adventure is over! I landed back in London this morning and the harsh reality of home has finally settled. Time for work tomorrow. (Cue me falling to my knees and shouting nOOOOOO at the sky.)

As an upside, this does mean that the onslaught of smug Instagram pics and Coachella tweets from me in the California sunshine has now ENDED. 

As you will have seen, I did an Instagram and Snapchat takeover for Yahoo!Lifestyle, so it was an constant stream of sunshine, cocktails, floral crowns and big smiles. In case you didn’t get it, bottom line was – LOOK AT ME HAVING SO MUCH FUN!

However, as a bit of light relief (and a thank you for everyone who’s been following my adventure) I thought I’d turn the tables and tell you what you really want to hear. Yes, dear friends – there’s an ugly side to Coachella too… and I’m not just talking about the Fashion don’ts…read on!

California Sunshine.

Firstly the weather. You can tell I’m from England, it’s the most important conversation topic for us! The sunshine is fabulous.. until it isnt. As a London resident, I am used to grey skies, light drizzle and a jacket at all times right? Watching the early afternoon sets in Palm Springs was mildly unbearable at times – there is no shade by the main stages, the sun literally radiates off all exposed skin. 

That annoying feeling where you know you should wear a hat to protect your head, but it just cuts off the wind through your hair and makes you hotter. SUCH A CONFLICT.

Thankfully, the beer gardens are all in lovely shaded spots and the real fun doesn’t kick off until about 4pm (once the sun has calmed itself) but when one of your favourite acts has an early set time, it can get quite intense if you’re not used to it! The trick is to find a light, floating coverup – especially for your shoulders!

Here’s me melting in the heat…

Excess Baggage. 

Next ugly truth. Bags are a huge pain but I neeeeeed one. The Coachella grounds and hot weather give you an undeniable urge to BE FREEEE and spin around the grounds like a glorious floral whirlwind. But where am I going to hold my shiz?

Backpacks are bulky and easy to rob, and leather handbags are too beautiful (and too heavy) to be toting around when working your way through the sweaty crowd. Crossbody clutches are borderline too small – especially since you’ll be carrying around water all day – I hate nothing more than a slightly-too small bag.

If you can travel light – opt for decent pockets. However if, like me, you have several urgent yet unnecessary items to carry (emergency plasters, emergency charger, emergency powder compact, spare camera battery – YOU KNOW WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT) then the lightest, least bulky bag you can choose is a canvas bag. It aint too chic but it does the job and survives the weather without meltdown.

Dust & Dirt.

It’s not noticeable but due to the high level of dust in the air, your nose will take a pounding for several days during and after the festival. Before you get grossed out completely, I’m not talking bleeding Carrie-style from the face – I mean like when you blow your nose after a day in London but instead of soot, it’s blood. LOVELY. Happened to me and everyone else in the group but Kendall Jenner definitely won’t be sharing that one with you on her IG feed eh?

Despite the beautiful Choos and Dune strappy wedges on display in the Daily Mail coverage, sandals are undeniably a HUGE mistake. A) They’re not really that comfortable when walking around for 12 hours in a mix of grass and sand. B) they get very dirty, very quickly. C) They offer little to no protection in large crowds. Crushed tootsies a-go. 

I wore open-toed shoes my first day and in less than an hour in my feet were how I’d imagine Esmerelda’s gypsy feet to look like. In case you can’t imagine that – here’s a picture – ENJOY.

Less than an hour in!!

Coachella Culture.

You’ve seen the Daily Mail coverage, you’ve seen the celebs – there’s no doubting that Coachella has become more famous for it’s fashion and celebs rather than the music. 

Whilst Weekend2 tends to weed out most of the selfie-seekers, at least 50% of the crowd are still there to be ‘there’. Topless frat boys and fangirls are rife and spend much of the weekend proclaiming how ‘totally hipster’ everything is. 

Floral crowns, temporary tattoos and hair accessories are EVERYWHERE. It’s great because you don’t feel like the oddball wearing half of the Amazon Rainforest on your head but at the same time, you can’t help but feel like you’re part of one giant cliche

Resolution? Either you’re blissfully unaware, or you embrace it! It’s all part of the deal! I gave in – I rocked a floral crown, the jewelled headpiece, feathers in my hair and you know what? I loved it! (whilst secretly despising myself, of course)

Land Of Far Far Away.

Everything in America is just SO far away. There’s so much space that buildings and plots are bigger but, as a result, it takes you twice as long to get everywhere. 

Due to the hot weather, camping is not for everybody – Palm Springs hotels are a popular option as there are shuttles which take you door to door. Staying in a hotel was super convenient – you have your own RUNNING WATER! However, even the local hotels take 20 minutes to get to. 

Whilst I was super thankful to have secured a hotel room, there were multiple times were I was like, ‘Mommmm, are we there yet..?’ And if you miss your stop on the way home, it’s a bloomin long loop until you get there again! (There were so many drunk people who missed their stop and were trying to stay awake to not miss it again!)

Other than that – Coachella did surprisingly well with basic festival boo-boos like toilets, queues and crowd control. The huge space allows for excellent facilities and ample room for clever crowd control systems which take you half way round the world before you get anywhere near a queue. 

As a result, I had done SO much walking (and sweating) that I’m pretty sure I burnt off all the excess I’d eaten and drank during the day! Prepare to be exhausted in the most satisfying, draining, floral adorned way…

So there we go – a couple of little home truths just to show it wasn’t ALLLLLL fun and games and awesomeness. (but it really was.) 

Thanks again for following my constant social media updates and your lovely comments wishing me a good trip – rest assured that I will always give you both sides of the story, no matter how ‘glamorous’!

Watch this space for a little video coming up on Yahoo!Lifestyle next….

Did you see my Coachella coverage for Yahoo? Have you ever been?

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By Zoe Dubs

Zoe Bayliss Wong
Zoe Bayliss Wong

Zoe is a Forbes ’30 under 30′ finance pro, style writer, presenter and panellist, working for a fashion startup and trying to live that best life in the most IRL way possible.

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