Whenever the words “Coachella Festival” come up in conversations, it’s expected to hear everyone revel about how they loved dancing on the festival fields to their favorite bands or sweating their head shaking asses off inside one of the tents but another experience that always comes up is The Neon Carnival…
Since 2010, Brent Bolthouse and various sponsors, have been responsible for bringing a magical glowing wonderland of carnival rides and midway games where celebrities, Coachella performers and special invited guests could continue Saturday night’s shenanigans into the wee hours of the morning after the festival closed its gates. This year, Levi’s Brand and Don Julio returned to aid in bringing the neon giant back to life at the newly renamed Jacqueline Cochran Airport in Thermal, CA.
In past years, thousands of carnival goers would park in the large dirt lot in front of the entrance of the airport, but this year, to combat the congestion and the craziness that would plague the venue entrance, year after year, check-in would now be handled at a different lot a mile away with school buses running all night to drop off and pick up guests. It was pretty hilarious and ironic to be packed up into yellow school buses that were delivering "students" to a location of ZERO learning...and as the diesel engine roared on its way to the event, we all cheered like giddy children.
Greeting all guests upon entry was a super cool Volkswagen Kombie that had been converted into a Levi's photo booth. I have to say that this was probably the coolest photo booth I have ever seen, and I've seen many. After snapping a photo in the VW bus, a plethora of midway games tempted the skills of any willing to try. Having spent a few years on my junior high school baseball team as a pitcher meant that knocking down milk bottles and/or dolls with baseballs and tossing a softball down a milk can was a pretty easy task... sadly, that wasn't the case for many, but Don Julio is to blame for that.
With Coachella just ending and the carnival just beginning, many patrons didn't and don't have a chance to stop by their temporary homes to freshen up. This was not a problem because Batiste Dry Shampoo had returned with their styling tent. Gals and guys could quickly stop in for a dry rinse of their hair before stepping out onto the carnival dance floor. Team Fauxchella gives these little cans two thumbs up as they have assisted in keeping us looking our best while on the road and hopping from event to event.
Wait a minute...did Drake just pass by us? It's no secret that some of the biggest artists, supermodels, and actors/actresses come to hang at THE after party of the desert. Over the years we've come across A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio dancing in the crowd, Rihanna being her bad ass self, Clint Eastwood (punk!), supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio and many more. The dancefloor was the place to be if you were a stargazer as Drake, French Montana, Aaron Paul and P-Diddy could be seen hanging in the bordering Wynn Las Vegas VIP booths.
With Victoria's Secret hosting their first party earlier in the day, it was guaranteed that everyone attending the carnival would definitely brush shoulders with an "angel" or two.
You never know who you'll bump into at the carnival. On top of the celebrities and models that filled the Neon Carnival, we were stunned to be standing in line next to cosmetics mogul Wende Zomnir (Urban Decay co-founder) and makeup maven Kandee Johnson.
With the night's festivities going full thrust, Don Julio tequila was at the ready to quench the thirsts of all with crafted tequila creations that kept everyone wanting more. We were all about the "Razzle Dazzle" and "Neon Sunset" cocktails and they were all about keeping us tipsy throughout the night.
Deeper exploration of the carnival revealed two more bars that generously poured Don Julio along with any other drink you could think of. Team Fauxchella opted for some Red Bulls and vodka (energy recharge) as we continued to maneuver through a sea of gyrating beauties and beat-stomping fellas we came across the Bud Light truck complete with rooftop viewing deck.
Along with the Levi's Brand VW bus photo booth, spread out across the event there were a couple other photo booths that offered unique twists to the traditional "photo." Don Julio had a photo set up complete with a vintage truck as a prop to pose on, which transformed your pics into a moving gif once done.
Lokai also set up a really cool "bullet time" style photo booth that was comprised of 30 cameras arranged in a crescent and programmed to all snap at the same time to create an amazing wrap-around freeze frame shot.
With our heads feeling that Don Julio buzz and the energy of the carnival continuing to blow up, we decided to hit the long line leading to the iconic neon-lit Lokai Ferris wheel. If you have never attended the carnival, always remember to grab your friends and ride the Ferris wheel. Not only do you get the best view of EVERYTHING but you can also snap some great photos of the sheer magnitude that is the Neon Carnival.
One of the things that makes a carnival great are the rides and they definitely were present for the drunken masses. Guys and girls searching for a connection could pair up and "bump" cars at the Tinder Matchmaker Bumper Cars. Others could take a long sloping ride on the Don Julio Mega Slide. If you rode the Lokai Ferris wheel then you could head over to the Levi's double mini Ferris wheels for more up-in-the air thrills.
Gone this year was the Fatburger truck that we all loved and lined up for, but in its place was pizza-extraordinaire Urban Pie, delivering some deliciously wood-fired pizza slices to the hungering guests. You can never go wrong with pizza, especially when you've got a belly full of booze.
As the night progressed, DJ's Kayper, Politik, Jesse Marco and Ruckus were feverishly serving up the sounds that drew the crowds onto the dance floor. We tried to get our boogie on but the mobs of dancing bodies were so great that it was impossible to even get close.
As we continued to bounce around the carnival, it was easy to lose track of time. Alcohol stopped being served at 2:00 AM and even though we still had a couple of rides to hop on, the 3:00 AM hour meant that it was time for Team Fauxchella to head home. And as we walked through the purple halls of the NC, we were a little sad that it was over (for us...others kept it going until 4:00 AM), BUT we also were already excited for next year's return. Many thanks to Brent Bolthouse, Levi's and Don Julio for another amazing late night in the desert.