Coachella isn’t just about the glitter make up, the selfies in front of the ferris wheel and the celebrity-strewn after parties. Okay so, a lot of it is. But behind the scenes, there is a vast group of pivotal people, without whom Coachella would not be possible. GLAMOUR meets the unsung heroes of the world’s biggest music festival…
Richard, the medic
Having worked as a medic in the US Air Force for ten years, Richard is accustomed to extreme situations, which has equipped him well when facing a weekend of treating hundreds of patients.
“You’ve got thousands of sleep deprived, dehydrated and often intoxicated people – the medical staff need to be on their a-game to make sure every one is safe and cared for.”
Aside from the inevitable ailments of any big party, there are certain elements of Coachella which raise unique medical concerns. “We’re in the middle of the desert, so the wind carries the sand through the air, which can prove problematic people with underlying respiratory conditions like asthma,” explains Richard. “There’s also the heat. It’s reached 98 Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) before. And people will be drinking alcohol all day, so dehydration and heat stroke are very common for us to see.”
The past few years of the festival have also seen the legalisation of cannabis, and with alcohol only permitted in certain designated areas, cannabis is fast becoming the drug of choice.
“A lot of people go too hard on the cannabis and combined with the heat and the alcohol, they just crash out. We have a lot of people sleeping it off in our tents.”
Joe, the trash services employee
Coachella generates over 100 tonnes of rubbish over the two weekends, with only around 20% of it being recycled. In an attempt to reduce waste, festival attendees are encouraged to bring ten used plastic bottles to designated recycling stations in order to receive a free, reusable bottle. “There’s more focus of recycling now, but there’s still a hell of a lot of trash thrown on the ground,” says Joe.
Joe, who lives in one of the neighbouring towns, is totally wrapped up from head to toe, with not even one inch of skin showing. “I’m out in the sun and the dust for 9 hours, I can’t show any skin or I’ll burn. I also wear a face mask so I don’t breathe in too much dust – it makes my throat so dry.”
Joe works alongside thousands of other litter collectors, filling sack after sack full of recycling and trash. “Yesterday, I filled 44 bags,” he says. “I’m just glad they’ve banned straws now. Straws were the worst to try and pick up – and there was so many of them.”
Izzy, the talent agent
While Coachella is bursting at the seams with celebrities and influencers alike, there are as many talent agents working alongside each one to make sure they are delivering to their fans – many of whom have travelled from across the world to see them perform.
Izzy is here to look after her client, a British celebrity who is booked for a number of appearances throughout the weekend. “I’m working, so I’m always switched on. I’ve got to make sure she’s in the right place at the right time, as well as managing any interviews.”
“It suits me fine because I don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera and I find it so weird that people spend so much time taking photos. In my mind, a festival is muddy, dirty, you don’t know where you phone is let alone posting on Instagram every 20 minutes. Luckily my job means I’m safely behind the camera at all times!”
Troy, the security guard
Needless to say, when you have 100,000 revellers piling into a confined space, crowd control is a major operation. “We mainly deal with the volume of people – making sure everyone is moving along, people don’t get to crowded up. It’s a big, big space and no one knows where they’re going, so it’s basically ushering them in the right direction and making sure they’re safe to do so. We constantly have vehicles needing to get through the streams of crowds, so there’s also the issue of cordoning off the stream of people to allow them access.”
“We have a strict alcohol policy and we enforce this at all times. Attendees are only allowed to consume alcohol in certain cordoned off areas of the festival. We have security at every exit and entrance to make sure the drinking stays where it’s meant to. It just means the main crowds are easier to contain and lessens the chances of overconsumption.”
While Troy takes his responsibilities as a security guard very seriously, his dream is to become a model. “I always work Coachella because there’s always that chance you’ll be scouted. There’s agents and talent spotters all over the place!”
Patrick, the hair stylist
“I love Coachella – not just because the best artists perform each year but it is also an amazing opportunity to work on a huge number of clients and show my work,” says Patrick, hair stylist.
“A typical day means getting up at 7am and getting right to work. I’ll do about nine styling sessions each day, depending on how crazy the looks are! Some of the more elaborate looks can take hours.”
Along with his usual kit consisting of brushes, GHD heat tools and sprays, Coachella requires a whole extra suitcase all of its own. “I bring every colour of extensions, hundreds of hair accessories, glitter gels and a good few wigs.”