There comes a time in every It Boy's life when he must explore beyond his bright lights, big city. That time is usually the second (or third) weekend in April, when the prospect of high-intensity live music drives you out of the comforts of your urban bubble to the scorching California desert.
Don't go to Coachella to mingle with Emma Watson. Don't go to get a suntan. Don't go to show off your new sand-colored Air Newport Oxfords. Don't go for the trippy drugs or the hipster boys. The only real reason to go to Coachella is the music. So get your schedule and highlighter ready, because Boy Toys never miss a good show.
As lauded as this music festival is, it's just not as fun without 23 of your closest friends-of-friends. So start sending those chain emails months in advance and make reservations before the lineup is announced. Each villa at La Quinta Resort comfortably accommodates six people (if you don't mind bikini-clad girls jumping on your roll-out mattress at 3 in the morning), and the resort is one of the shuttle stops on the way to the Empire Polo Club. Trust me, camping and waking up dusty and sweaty at 6 a.m. to the hot morning sun and a temperature of over 90 degrees is not how you want to start off the day.
The weekend is nonstop, so take some time out early in the afternoon to lounge by the pool and stock up on energizing carbs. Unless a smaller act you just cannot miss (Santigold) is performing, there's no need to head out to the festival until around 5 p.m., depending on the severity of your hangover. On the shuttle, always take the first seats available. The cool kids may have an affinity for the back of the bus, but there's a reason Rosa Parks fought for the front: no waiting for the hordes of tipsy L.A. teens to trickle out of your way.
Once inside, backpacks are indispensable. Not only will your girl friends thank you for eliminating their need to carry a purse, but it's also nice to have the necessities -- chapstick, water bottle, Neosporin, eyedrops, sunblock, map, hand sanitizer, cigarettes, compass, moist toilettes -- at your immediate disposal. Plus, backpacks accentuate your pectoral chest area.
Security is not what you'd consider tight. Even though you're not allowed to bring in any outside food or beverages, guards barely search your bags and act completely uninterested in finding any contraband. Try to sneak in oranges, raisins, and water to keep you going until the headliners. Don't worry, no one was ever sent to jail for smuggling in some fruit.
Emergencies are imminent, and perhaps the biggest nightmare at Coachella (besides missing Miike Snow) is snapping your entry wristband. Don't freak out; with a proof of purchase and a puppy-dog look, you should be able to get it replaced. Just don't be fooled by the bogus $25 replacement fee. An emergency you can avoid is dehydration. Fortunately, H&M had an oasis tent this year, complete with refillable water stations and air-conditioned vanity mirrors. Take a couple of minutes to readjust your bandana so that it's smoothly wrapped around your forehead.
With over 70,000 people at the festival, more than one face is bound to look familiar. Don't count on spotting a long-lost friend during Martin Solveig's performance, especially if that friend happens to be Madonna. The tech-savvy should look into GroupMe, an iPhone app that sends text messages to an entire group of phone numbers, alerting them of your location at any given point. It's essential, considering that traditional cellphone coverage on the grounds tends to be nonexistent.
Although neon-lit installations are common, bigger landmarks like the ferris wheel are harder to come by. The best place to meet up is right before a show you all want to see, especially at one of the tents. Soundcheck problems aside, bands tend to stick to the schedule, so you'll have a set time to meet up by before Florence and the Machine. The lead singer's triumphant voice makes for a remarkable desert valley summoning call.
If trying to meet up seems futile, don't be afraid of venturing out on your own. With five stages, dozens of bands, corporate-sponsored tents, DJ huts, food courts, beer gardens, and lounges, Coachella is a village unto itself, with three days of distractions. It's impossible to get 24 people to travel across the expansive lawns, but alone, you can make the distance. Nothing should ever get in the way of checking out one of your favorite bands live. Perhaps you will regroup before the end of the night, perhaps not. But how could you miss Rihanna's surprise appearance during Calvin Harris' set for a "We Found Love" rendition. Musical surprises are a Coachella mainstay.
One thing Coachella has plenty of is man candy. Just don't get it twisted and think the hunky, shirtless straight guy is looking back at you because he wants to jump you. He probably just thinks you're weird because you're dancing on your own. Smelling his sweat is about as physical as you'll get with him...
Rally until the headliners; otherwise you'll miss those iconic moments Coachella is known for (hologram Tupac anyone?).
Back at the villas, party don't stop! Aren't you glad you figured out ahead of time who was going to bring down the portable speakers? The night is younger than a David Guetta groupie, so make sure to keep hydrated. Orange juice is a lifesaver here. But beware of Zac Efron look-a-likes crashing your villa after-party. Of course, he's heard so much about you! Just dismiss whatever rumors he's heard as true. If the stories are contradictory, quote Walt Whitman and explain you are made of multitudes.
A blacked-out buddy will undoubtedly want to bring a questionably sober fella upstairs to engage in what can only be assumed to be consensual lovemaking. Did you mention there are six people staying at each villa? No one wants his or her room to be the sex dungeon! So be diplomatic, straightforward, and concise. Knock, knock, knock. Stop having sex. Alex needs to take out her contacts.
If three days of live shows amidst a stampede of glowing Apollo-bodied dreamboats moving in slow-mo is not enough, the Coachella spirit spreads far beyond the festival grounds, with riotous, celebrity-laden after-parties. The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs welcomed Ke$ha and Kirsten Dunst last year to their Desert Gold party. Lea Michele and Lauren Conrad were all poolside style at the Lacoste L!ve Pool Party, while night owls Kellan Lutz, Mark Sailing, and Josh Hutcherson had a merry round of fun at T-Mobile and Armani's Neon Carnival. These parties are all invite-only, of course, but you knew that.
A version of this post originally appeared on Confessions of a Boy Toy.