Weedmaps, Grindr, and Moschino: Inside the Branded Paradise of Coachella's Party Scene
The festival itself is only the beginning.
Photo courtesy of Mekeal Dawson
Even in our time of impending doom, Coachella parties offer the perfect escapist mirage—if you're invited, that is. As a purple heart veteran of the Coachella party circuit, I've risked my life to infiltrate the lavish world that exists surrounding the fest, where every year brands take over fancy desert estates and invite celebs and industry folk to revel in what I like to call an "influencer's paradise." This year offered up more of the same activities and swag as years past: free alcohol in the form of cleverly-named cocktails, gourmet catering to make your tastebuds feel like they're on E, surprise performances and DJ sets (thank you, Ms. Erykah Badu), fun freebies (but stop with the dad hats already!), scenic hikes, SoulCycle rides, and wellness booths to resuscitate desert-goers from looking weathered. A dive into capitalism's maw has never looked, sounded, and tasted this good.
Then there were the events hosted by the Kardashians, like the tween-filled PrettyLittleThing x Paper Magazine party and the winter-in-the-desert themed Bumble app party. Here, partygoers seemed unable to let loose with everyone's attention hyperfocused on every subtle movement of a single "celebrity," whereas other (better) parties allowed us to heighten our senses and actually celebrate something of substance. More than big brands or famous faces, 2017's best Coachella parties celebrated gay pride and the joys of getting high.
Getting High at #WeedmapsOasis
This year, cannabis was the newcomer onto the Coachella party scene, thanks to Weedmaps, a mobile app that connects marijuana patients with local dispensaries. Its weekend-long #WeedmapsOasis, a festival retreat for those 21 and up, brought the best cannabis brands together on one lawn to host activations in their own geodesic dome.
There was nothing quite like starting my weekend being smoked out by the owners of Nameless Genetics—the self-proclaimed "Dom Perignon of Marijuana"—all while getting a deep tissue massage so that I could "experience the whole luxury lifestyle." Two budtenders ground up their signature Mega Wellness OG for me, funneled through a $4,500 Futurola Knockbox machine that can roll up to 100 joints in two minutes.
After my impromptu marijuana massage session, I wandered around to the other domes where I did dabs out a blown glass pipe with the bros at Sugar Leaf Extracts, nibbled on Sour Patch Kid and peach ring edibles from FlavRx, and walked through a greenhouse of live plants to collect weed samples from the girls at Kaya Farms. Right as my kush coma hit, I stopped to take a weed nap in the VICELAND van for WEED WEEK.
By night, the geodesic domes lit up and so did the party, as the oasis turned into a roaring stonerland complete with walking fire breathers and rap entourages getting loud. A$AP Rocky pulled up with Kendall Jenner in Gucci goggles, but I pulled up with Drake's dad. Shout out Dennis Graham.
Going gay at Grindr x Galore's Desert Queens party
Since there are never any Coachella parties for the gays (except maybe tent orgies you can find on Craigslist… yikes), gay social app Grindr teamed up with Galore Magazine for their Desert Queens pool party for all the gays to gay out. Grindr continued the weed love, providing fun party favor table spreads with branded weed paraphernalia and vintage Playgirl magazines, with more weed sampling from Humboldt Brothers. If you didn't get the message, gays love 420 too.
DJs Simihaze and Jordyn Woods came through with the LV print looks to play all the rap bangers, before Charlie XCX, Brooke Candy and Cupcakke joined forces to perform their high energy fuck anthem "Lipgloss" for the crowd. In between the faux-sex moans that dot some of her songs, Cupcakke shared a message of love for everyone regardless of sexual preference, by way of introduction for her song "LGBT": "FUCK OUT MY WAY WHEN YOU SEE ME, I'M ROLLIN WITH THE LGBT!" All the gays gagged, looking like they were having the time of their lives. In this moment, surrounded by so many beautiful, colorful people filled with positivity, I was overcome with a sense of happiness and pride—it seemed like how the world should be!
Turning rappers into gay allies at Moschino X TIDAL's Candy Crush party
The climax of this year's Coachella parties was Jeremy Scott's 10th annual celebrity-studded Coachella party for Moschino's latest Candy Crush collab at the Corona Yacht Club. It was decked out like a candy shop on steroids. Performances from breakout rappers Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti were livestreamed on TIDAL; Uzi Vert unleashed his flamboyant shoulder shimmy dance—the same one that sparked the viral "Lil Uzi Vert Challenge" online—and had the crowd yanking. According to Twitter, he also changed the lyrics of his song "XO TOUR Llif3" from "all my friends are dead" to "all my friends are gay."
During a chance run-in backstage, Carti made a comment about my gay BFF Lex—who was wearing nothing except a Jeremy Scott Snickers hoodie and boots—asking, "Yo son, where your pants at?" Then Uzi Vert chimed in, " Those legs though!" His compliment came with a giant smile, and he was eager to pose for the gram. Discovering that this new crop of rappers is gay-friendly is a high of its own.
Well, thanks again Coachella party gods for another iconic weekend one. Coachella festival weekend two, here I come!