A beginner's guide to Coachella, by Jude Dobson

Jude Dobson has been announced as a Dancing with the Stars 2019 contestant, and the TV personality got some serious dancing practice in at an iconic music festival.

At the age of 50, the former co-host of Sale of the Century headed to Los Angeles to join her daughter at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

She wants to share what she learned as a Coachella beginner with other Kiwis looking to head over and party in the Californian desert.

Elle Keoghan, Phil Keoghan, Louise Keoghan, Ella Dobson, Jude Dobson.
Elle Keoghan, Phil Keoghan, Louise Keoghan, Ella Dobson, Jude Dobson. Photo credit: Jude Dobson

Jude Dobson's 10 tips for Coachella first-timers:
 

1. Know what weekend you are aiming for

It's a two-weekend thing. Go for the first if you can, when the grass is green. By the second weekend, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California has a heap of dust underfoot from the previous weekend's foot traffic. 

Palm Springs.
Palm Springs. Photo credit: Getty Images

2. Do your homework before you buy your tickets

Set up an account and know what you want to buy. The Coachella website has all you need to know about the festival itself and packaged deals. https://www.coachella.com/. The tickets seem expensive, but for three days of entertainment in a beautiful venue, I thought it was good value. The shuttle pass is well worth the extra fee, too - waiting for an Uber or Lyft, when you are miles from home at the end of the night, paying crazy surge pricing, is a real downer. 

A beginner's guide to Coachella, by Jude Dobson
Photo credit: Jude Dobson

3. Secure tickets

This is a bit of an exercise, given tens of thousands go. There are two releases for the annual April event. If you don't secure them on the first release mid-year, early January is the date. Join their comms channels to get the heads up. Have more than one screen on the go, with more than one log in, as you can only buy two tickets max. We had three laptops, two side by side, and one in another city logged in from the moment they went on sale, and only one was successful before they sold out. The little blue man running along the screen as you wait in line can take quite some time, sometimes 30 minutes. Quite stressful stuff.

A beginner's guide to Coachella, by Jude Dobson
Photo credit: Jude Dobson

4. Book your accommodation ASAP

Push the boat out if poss. My friend had a gorgy Airbnb with a pool and we filled the rooms. It became 'pre-gaming' central with the kids' 20-something friends rolling in from wherever they'd found accommodation, and a very nice place to retire post-festival. Our spot in Rancho Mirage was a 25 minute drive from the festival gates and a 10 minute walk home. 

A beginner's guide to Coachella, by Jude Dobson
Photo credit: Jude Dobson

5. Download stuff

Spotify have a Coachella list so do some homework on what's on. The Coachella app has the line-up and much more. Look at the set times so you can make yourself a schedule and share it with your fellow festival-goers. Make sure you also have 'find my friends' and 'find my iPhone', or the Android equivalent. You don't want to lose either.

A beginner's guide to Coachella, by Jude Dobson
Photo credit: TVNZ/Jude Dobson

6. Pack your day pack

The Coachella website has a list of what you can and can't take in. No selfie sticks, pro cameras or beverages in bottles as a starter. Definitely take ID, cash/cards, sunscreen, a portable phone charger and a plastic bottle to refill with water. 

INDIO, CA - APRIL 23:  Porter Robinson & Madeon perform on the Coachella Stage during day 3 of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 2) at the Empire Polo Club on April 23, 2017 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)
Photo credit: Getty Images

7. What to wear

Anything goes, from the wild and wonderful to the more pedestrian and peaceful. I loved sitting in the beer garden on the cool grass, cold drink in hand, people-watching between shows. Comfy sneakers are the go - open toes beg to be stepped on in a crowd. Layers are good, as it's a desert and hot during the day, but cool at night, and sometimes windy. Pack the bandana to try and keep the dust out of your eyes, ears and nostrils on a bad day. 

INDIO, CA - APRIL 13:  Festivalgoers attend the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 13, 2018 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)
Photo credit: Getty Images

8. Broaden your musical repertoire

The sound stages, what's on at each, and their set-ups are all quite diverse. Dive in - it's just a short walk to a whole new experience.

There are always the headline acts at the end of the night, but my favs were eclectic. Hearing the catchy 'Feel it Still' with Portugal. The Man; going back in time with Chic & Nile Rodgers; David Byrne and The War on Drugs were both quite spare and beautiful against the setting sun; Odesza and their amazing light show including drones; and Cardi B even got my attention - it's hard to miss her!

It was great going with a bunch of 20-somethings - we went to stuff they knew, and they did the same with us. We all got to experience something new.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 18:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image was shot using a long exposure) A light painting on the terrace during day 2 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 2) at The Empire Polo Club on April 18, 2015 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Coachella)
Photo credit: Getty Images

9. It's more than music

The art is utterly superb - art you walk into, walk up, experience in 3D, and interact with. The food and drink are excellent, with heaps of options. Eat, drink, people-watch, recharge for the next gig. 

INDIO, CA - APRIL 20:  Escape Velocity art installation by Poetic Kinetics is seen during day 3 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 20, 2014 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)
Photo credit: Getty Images

10. It's a well-run festival for grownups

The toilets are always clean, with short lines and people are well behaved. I didn't see any bad behaviour or ever feel unsafe. Plus, it never feels crowded - except in the mosh pit!

Jude can be seen taking to the dancefloor when Dancing With The Stars NZ premieres on Three on April 14.

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