Coachella 101: What to Expect at the Festival - Day 1

Photos by Lindsay Schallon/StyleBistro

Hi class, and welcome to Coachella 101! I'm Lindsay, StyleBistro Associate Editor and your Coachella tour guide for the weekend. (That's me in the gray!) I'm kicking it California with the Free People blog team and a few style bloggers — yep, that's Natalie Off Duty and her sister Dylana from Color Me Nana with us! — to bring you the lowdown on festival happenings, straight from the front lines.

So without further ado, here's what went down on Day 1.

The Shuttles: We're not exactly ones for roughing it, so we're staying in Palm Springs this weekend with a bunch of the fashion set. (It's where all the parties are going down. More on that to come!) So, to get to the fairgrounds, we had to take a shuttle.

You know those touristy charter buses that look like they were furnished on the set of a bad '80s pop video? Uh huh, that was our ride. Empty Coors Light cans decorated the cup holders, naturally.

It's about a 30-40 minute trip from Palm Springs to the festival, so it gives you plenty of time for activities, like selfie snapping...

Me and Brigette from Free People

And body-painting! The tribal-y the patterns, the better at Coachella. (No, I'm not flexing...)

We've arrived!!! Or so we thought. From the point of the shuttle drop off to the gates it is a mile-long walk. This would be a good time to tell you, don't wear heels. Even wedges are pushing it.

Expect to walk...

And walk...

And walk. Once you hit this yellow tent thing below — which promps a loudspeaker to pump the Munchkin version of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," thus making you want to watch Wizard of Oz immediately — you know you're close.

Well, sort of.

After passing through three, count them, three different checkpoints — keep your shuttle passes out, you'll be thankful you did — FINALLY you've arrived at the gates. A spot that's perfect for an impromptu photo shoot.

The Outfits: Here's Natalie's head-to-toe look.

I kid you not, her pants (Free People, obv) got her a thousand compliments. I don't even think I'm exaggerating here.

Dylana wore a flowy tank with cutoff shorts and an embroidered vest she found in a Philly thrift shop. (Cue Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, what what, what, what...)

Julia from Free People rocked a crochet fringe vest — side note: I saw fringed stuff everywhere — with a basic tee.

I'm basically obsessed with Brigette's skirt.

And last but not least, I wore a gray maxi dress with a hat (so glad I did, it kept the sun off my face all day!) and carried an army green backpack with rhinestones and studs.

And just in case you were wondering, backpacks were the thing to carry. Especially ones in bright colors...

Tribal prints...

And florals.

Another big trend? Flower headbands. Lana Del Rey, if only you knew what you started.

The Festival: Okay, back to the festival. Here's the iconic Coachella ferris wheel! FYI - It makes a great meeting place. And the bathrooms by it have virtually no line since it's at the front of the grounds. These are important things to know people, especially when one member of your group jumped into the pool the day before with his phone. Cell reception sucks inside anyway though, but still... Can you imagine having no phone at Coachella. (No bueno.)

Also, while I'm on the topic of advice giving, your ID — that thing that verifies to people (ID checkers) that even though you have a media bracelet and are clearly not a high schooler (a girl in a bikini top and cutoffs), you're of legal drinking age — don't forget it. Seriously, don't.

They have special double-gated sections marked "Beer Gardens," all of which are heavily patrolled with not one Heineken bracelet check point, but two. Prior to walking in, you have to show your ID at one of the ID Check tents. After realizing I left my driver's license back at the house — 40 minutes away in Palm Springs — my conversation went something like this.

Me: Hi, soooo I'm so sorry, but I left my ID in my travel bag after my 8-hour flight yesterday.

Bouncer: *Rolls eyes*

Me, continuing frenetically: But I'm in the media *holds up wrist band* and that's my group over there *points to group of obviously over-age people* and I'm 24 years old and have a real person job, so yeah I'm legal to drink.

Bouncer: *Stone cold face, no sign of sympathy* Sorry, you've got to have an ID.

Me: But, but, I'm media. *Holds wristband up again, batting eyelashes, hoping this Dior Show Mascara pays for itself somehow right now*

Bouncer: *Deadpan* Congratulations. I'm glad you work in the media. But still, no ID, no wristband.

Me: Ballz.

Also, don't put your ID in your pocket. There's already been one loss in our group due unsecured pocket storage. RIP, Dylana's ID.

Now, after that downer of a story, here's a place I like to call "The Trippy Tent."

From what I saw, there were performers dressed in futuristic suits doing acrobatics in the air. Also, dubstep. Lots of dubstep playing. Most of the people around this area had tie-dye headbands and smelled like, ahem, a certain herbal refreshment. Later in the night, a rainbow of flashing lights emerge and a glow-in-the-dark snail (yes, snail) slowly moves around the outside of the area.

The Food: The lines move fairly fast (major!) and I was surprised by how much variety there was in cuisine — don't get yourself, though, it's still festival food, it's not gourmet.

Prices are what you'd expect — not that outrageous, but definitely not cheap. Pizza is $7 and a beer is $9. Oh yeah, and water is $2. I know this well, because again, I couldn't drink all day. Womp womp.

Also, portions aren't all that bad.

My Favorite Set: Of Monsters and Men. Oh how I love Of Monsters and Men.

The View: Breathtaking. I want to move to Cali. (Sorry New York team!)

The End: It's incredible how fast the day goes. We were all so immersed in the music and taken in by the sights, we didn't even realize there was a whole nother side to the festival. Apparently there's a rave tent (surprised?) and a few other fashion pop-ups. We'll be checking those out today — on Day 2.

Stay tuned!

To see more on our Coachella adventures, click here!