[Tucker Gumber, AKA "The Festival Guy," has been to more than 90 festivals and has written a book, Festival Thrower's Bible, about how to make them an optimal experience. He is also creator of the FestEvo festival resource app for fans. Ahead of Coachella, L.A. Weekly asked him to share some of his insights on the art of festivalgoing.]
As the sunny days of winter in L.A. turn into the sunnier days of spring, one word is on the mind of music lovers: “Coachella” — the Super Bowl of festivals.
I've been blessed with the opportunity to travel across North America to experience almost any festival of my choosing, and I can report that the word "Coachella" does not have the same meaning to fans who haven’t yet attended this extravaganza. Thanks to all the riveting articles about what people wear to Coachella, public opinion seems to be that the only reason anyone goes to Coachella is to look good and be seen. While there's some truth to this, what the world needs to understand is that Coachella is so popular not because it's a fashion parade but because it’s an incredible festival.
Coachella’s commitment to delivering the best art, lighting, food, and music-viewing experience and its ability to pair it all with natural beauty and perfect weather make this a festival that every patron wants to return to, regardless of who’s in the lineup. This is why Coachella is the only festival that can sell out two 99,000-capacity weekends before the lineup is even released.
While Coachella is America’s best megafestival, it still has the same issues that every major festival faces. A small percentage of people always leave their trash on the ground for everyone else to deal with. Coachella often runs out of schedules; the campground is a mundane parking lot of cars lacking any flair; and there are always people who push and shove their way through the crowd.
The issues will not even come close to ruining your glorious weekend. Your time at Coachella will include some of the best days of your life. And the more fun you have, the better the vibe is going to be for the people around you.
Follow the below tips and you’ll do your part to make Coachella an even better festival. Together, we can make this Coachella’s best year ever.
1. Leave No Trace (+1)
This simple motto is the solution to the festival trash problem. If everyone picked up after himself and one other person, the entire venue would be spotless. Every time you pick up a piece of trash, others will see you and will follow suit. After each set is done, give a simple shout encouraging people around you to “Leave No Trace +1.”
2. Walk to the Right
The area behind the Gobi, Mojave, and Sahara tents can become a sea of people if we don’t work together. Walk to the right when navigating stages so everyone can easily get to their desired location.
3. Take Their Photo for Them
Just as some people leave trash, others take boring selfies instead of getting a quality picture highlighting the awesomeness of their surroundings. Take a quick minute and offer to take a snap of them with all of their friends.
4. Enter and Exit to the Sides
When you see that amateur pushing his way back through the never-ending crowd, remind him to exit to the side. It’s easier to navigate, and he'll disturb fewer people.
5. There Are No Strangers, Only Friends
The people you’re standing next to as you watch music are the people most similar to you. Not only did they choose the same festival, on the same weekend, but they chose the same stage and same place to stand. Treat all of these amazing humans who are clearly making proper life decisions as if they were friends — and soon, they will be.
6. Mind Your P's and Q's
As you’re in close proximity with thousands of people over the course of the weekend, you’ll undoubtedly bump into people, step on toes, and probably spill someone’s beer. "Excuse me," "I’m sorry," and "Thank you" should be used early and often.
7. Decorate Your Campsite
The ten feet in front of your campsite is your piece of Coachella real estate. This priceless property will be passed by tens of thousands of people over the weekend. A funny sign can put a smile on all of these faces. Light your campsite up at night with battery-powered Christmas lights and you’ll be doing your part to make the campgrounds a more magical experience.
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8. Hold the Door
On your way in and out of the porta-potties, hold the door open for the next person. This little act of kindness is an easy way to show the next person how easy it is to be courteous. (Bonus pro tip: Go all the way to the back of the porta-potties. They're way less crowded.)
9. If It’s Broken, Fix It
A festival the size of Coachella has so many moving parts that it’s impossible for event producers to be everywhere at once. If you see something that’s not right, like a knocked-over trashcan, fix it for the benefit of the festival.
10. Dance, and Dance Hard
Dancing is contagious, and it’s your responsibility as a Coachellagoer to transmit this fever to the people around you.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be part of the solution to making Coachella a cleaner, friendlier, and more enjoyable festival for all. See you in paradise!