It’s been a week since I was dancing my days away in the desert of Indio, CA, and to fill that hipster-shaped hole in my heart that its absence has created, I want to share my Coachella weekend fun and playlist.

Despite all my planning and pre-fest excitement, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my first Coachella experience. A part of me thought it would just be a sea of celebrities and hipsters who were there ironically, and another part expected a fun place to listen to some tunes and people watch, but it is so much more than that!

Coachella can change your life, and if you haven’t gotten the chance to experience it yet, make sure to buy your passes to Coachella 2017 the day they go on sale. I know I will. Until then, let me help ease your post-Coachella pain by sharing my experiences with you, from the music I heard to the parties I attended to the stages I didn’t want to leave!

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The Parties

In some ways, NOCHELLA can be just as good as Coachella! I only had Weekend Two passes, so during Weekend One, I focused on the parties. I was able to attend a poolside party on the Merv Griffin Estate that was put on by theAudience Social Club, and I have to say, it was by far the coolest party I have ever been to.

The event had two time sets, the first a day-time pool party that included an insanely awesome set by a favorite Los Angeles local, PAZ, and then at night one of the houses was transformed in a full club that brought out such incredible talent as Bonobo and A-Trak!

It was hands-down the best produced party of the weekend, from the beautiful location to the Space Yacht-cultivated lineup to the open bar. It is what I imagine a party on the old TV show The OC would have been like in real life. There was a gifting suit by Wild Fox, a braid bar, a bike-powered margarita machine, and most importantly, mermaids!

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theAudience Social Club’s wasn’t the only party, though. Thanks to performances by Pete Tong, Cash Cash, Lido, Skrillex and friends, and even disco queen Nicole Moudaber, Day Club Palm Springs kept vibe as hot as the weather (my intense sunburn and ridiculous tanlines can attest to that)!

Our contest winner Karem Idrees was given the opportunity to catch Cash Cash poolside, while I got my dub-step on with Skrillex and Friends — even after closing my Friday night with Jack U, I couldn’t wait to get more Skrillex!

Every year, the Hilton Palm Springs Hotel’s Day Club offers Coachella attendees a chance to catch some of dance music’s top talents up close and personal, and 2016 was no exception. If next year’s lineup is half as amazing, you will definitely catch me poolside in 2017!

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The Stages

There really was no bad stage at Coachella! The only complaint I could give was that the Sahara tent made me feel so claustrophobic that I ended up staying a little bit outside whenever I wanted to attend a set at the stage. Hearing the music from the stage was actually really easy with the Here active listening earbuds that I had. They had a specific setting for each stage, including the back of the Sahara tent, so I didn’t bother getting squashed inside.

The opposite experience of the Sahara tent was The DoLab’s Big Fish stage. It was my favorite stage of the weekend because it was just fun. The music was vibey, the colors were very representative of The DoLaB, and the water hoses during the day made it one big party every time I visited. I can’t wait to see even more of the big-kid-set-free vibes next month at The DoLaB’s own festival, Lightning In A Bottle!

the dolab at coachella by aaron glassman
Photo by Aaron Glassman

The Music

I cannot begin to do justice to the amount of amazing talent at Coachella this year. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, but everyone I saw was absolutely amazing!

My three favorite acts of the weekend:

Sia
I have wanted to see Sia live ever since she released Colour The Small One in 2004. She has been a longtime obsession of mine, and I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I cried when she sang “Breathe Me.” I didn’t expect her to play it because it’s so old-school and such a powerful ballad (not really what I expect to hear at a festival), but it fit in amazingly with the production and storyline. Sia knows how to take a crowd with her on a musical journey better than any other artist. Hers was hands down the most beautiful and powerful performance of the weekend.

Ice Cube
So you might not expect it from a little blonde girl from Wyoming, but I have long had a love for West Coast hip hop. When I was in junior high, I owned one rap CD that was some random ’90s mix of Snoop Dogg, 2pac, N.W.A., and a few others. I remember it started with Tupac and Dre’s “California Love,” and I’m pretty sure that track prompted my decision to move to Los Angeles one day, so to hear it performed live by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre was insane! Ice Cube has stage presence that just can’t be stopped no matter how many years he continues to perform.

Zedd
This was the surprise stand-out for me because I have never really considered myself a huge Zedd fan. I’ve heard a couple of his songs and liked them, but I never really listened to all of his stuff. However, his set at the Outdoor stage was incredible!

I could not stop dancing and jumping and singing along, and I was absolutely floored by just how much fun Zedd’s music is. He had great stage presence, and the production was really entertaining. Even though it was dark and fairly cool in the desert by the end of his set, I found myself sweating up a storm from the hour of non-stop dancing. There wasn’t a single moment or song that didn’t keep the energy high!

If you want to experience the full range of artists I caught in Indio, check out my playlist for Coachella Weekend Two!

1. “The Touch” – KOLAJ
2. “Tilted” (MS MR Remix) – Christine and The Queens
3. “Desire” – Years and Years
4. “Dream” (Boehm Remix) – Autograf
5. “Crystals” – Of Monsters and Men
6. “F**kin’ Problems – A$AP Rocky (EXPLICIT)
7. “Don’t Need Nobody” – Ellie Goulding
8. “Mind” (feat. Kai) – Jack Ü
9. “Mustang Kids: Baby E” – Zella Day
10. “Running Out” – Matoma
11. “Never Ending Circles” – CHVRCHES
12. “My Blood” (feat. Zhu) – AlunaGeorge
13. “Buzz” – LondonBridge
14. “Omen” (feat. Sam Smith) – Disclosure
15. “Ghost” – Halsey
16. “California Love” (Original Version) – 2pac & Dr Dre EXPLICIT
17. “Go To Church” (feat. Snoop Dogg & Lil Jon) – Ice Cube EXPLICIT
18. “Daisy” – Zedd
19. “Working for It” – ZHU
20. “We Bring the Fire” (feat. Drones) – Brillz
21. “Heart on the Ground” (feat. Kiya Lacey) – TOKiMONSTA
22. “Temple” (M.I.A & G-DRAGON) – Baauer EXPLICIT
23. “ Who Loves The Sun” – NU
24. “Powerful” (feat. Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley) – Major Lazer
25. “I’m Yours” – Alessia Cara
26. “Don’t Let Me Down” (feat. Daya) – the Chainsmokers
27. “Breathe Me” – Sia
28. “Bird Set Free” – Sia
29. “ Never Be Like You” (feat. Kai) – Flume
30. “Open Wide” (feat. Big Sean) – Calvin Harris

Bonus (my go-to happy song!): “I Need Your Love” (feat.Ellie Goulding) – Calvin Harris

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Now did Coachella ’16 change everyone’s life? Judging by the number of people who were willing to push and shove me just to get a smidgen closer to the stage, I’d say no.

But what I learned is that Coachella is what you make of it. You can either take it as a way to escape from your problems at home and process them in this weird, alternate reality the desert has created, or you can just enjoy the good times. It’s up to you!