Death Will Never Kill Coachella's Drug Culture

Categories: Coachella

coachellakidsdrugs.jpg
LA Weekly
Coachella kids, some of whom are surely sober
Oakland resident Kimchi Truong was 24. She passed out on the Coachella grounds last weekend, likely due to an overdose. Her death, Thursday, was shocking. But what's really shocking is that this kind of thing doesn't happen more often.

This story is about very young people doing a shit-ton of drugs, but let's start with the old folks of the Coachella Valley. Fooling themselves into believing they're not going to die, they populate ticky-tacky communities behind guarded gates, with giant televisions, preposterously lush lawns and mammoth green hedges. They've bought into the illusion that this is a lush paradise, rather than a punishing desert that will remain hospitable only as long as politicians willingly waste the diminishing stash of Western water. The men, who are tan, and the women, who take walks in the morning, came from greater L.A., arriving to places like Indian Wells and Palm Springs to escape the smog, traffic, crowding and chaos.

See also: Woman Dies of an Apparent Drug Overdose at Coachella

How betrayed they must feel, then, when the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival brings the riff-raff back to their doorstep for two weekends every year--the biggest, most unruly traveling circus imaginable.

Marked like convicts with green, yellow, and blue wristbands, the young people are regarded with distrust. With good reason: They make only the slightest effort to assimilate into their temporary communities. Drunk on their parents' money and preparing to descend into squalor, they rent houses or apartments for $400 or more per night, cramming each room with three or four of their best friends, laying down sleeping bags they'll barely touch and stocking the fridge with water they'll forget to drink. Upon arrival, they immediately break out the vodka, or the molly, and blast off: Coachella is their Christmas, the greatest time of the year, as much for the chance at unsupervised recklessness as for the festival itself. (Many won't even make it inside.)

"It's common for my friends to wake up, start drinking and taking Adderall," says one early-twentysomething festival veteran. "Then they mix acid and molly together in a water bottle and take that into the fest. They drink this mixture throughout the day and night while continuing to supplement it with booze, weed, and Adderall. They'll lick their fingers and dip them into bags of molly."

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Ed Carrasco
Coachella after party
The thrifty ones don't even purchase tickets to the festival, instead hitting up the Valley's exclusive parties timed to the event, flush with celebrity DJs, rappers, fashion designers, models, and young millionaires. At these parties, branded within an inch of their lives and held at places like the Corona Yacht Club--whose signature feature is a freshwater lagoon - the drinks, kale salad, gummi bears, and Aerie-brand bras and panties are free. The girls, having dieted for months beforehand and brainstormed outfits that will make them not, technically, naked, travel in packs, the guys inflate their resumes. Absolutely everything is photographed.

When the parties end the kids drive home, at the mercy of their oft-failing GPS systems, drunk out of their minds. But though it's well past midnight it's not too late for psychedelics, chocolate-covered mushrooms or Sour Patch Kids laced with LSD. The drugs, combined with a lack of sleep, lack of food (In-N-Out Burger is closed, yo), and a general, half-assed sense of artistry inspire all sorts of late night shenanigans: impassioned guitar performances, EDM dance parties by the pool, impromptu outdoor photo shoots with old-timey popping flashbulbs.

By early afternoon the next day it's time to go into the festival, and despite last night's insanity the kids are far from depleted. (Before long they'll have sinus infections and crushing depression, but that's still days away.) And so they head over to the Polo Grounds, only sometimes remembering to pack sunscreen into the fanny packs they've brought because their swimsuits don't have pockets.

They have, however, remembered to stash drugs on their person and in just about every orifice.

See also: The Worst of Coachella 2014



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30 comments
taidodinh
taidodinh

all nice peoples at cochella no getto peoples all good vibe next year two weeks in da roll 

taidodinh
taidodinh

tickets 400 hotel 1500 pool party 125 per day i saw three black guys walk out i mean far walk no tickets how stupid can u be drive from la down to here n have no tickets

Alex Chavira
Alex Chavira

Death never kills the drug culture.... rimshot.

George Yee
George Yee

At least she didn't end up as a 'pickled vegetable' - oh wait.....

Bry Redmon
Bry Redmon

And you can tell Rolling Stone magazine that my last words were... I'm on drugs!

Alix Luu
Alix Luu

Actually.. It happens pretty often - it's just not pronounced dead at scene and often goes unreported even if it did

Ro Hart
Ro Hart

kinda like Woodstock... and all the other music festivals...

Nick Lynn
Nick Lynn

it is a tragedy forsure but we are so desensitized to death and i know first had how amazing of an experience one can have.. its not that people dont care but if it does not personally affect them they dont care..they = we

Michael Araujo
Michael Araujo

Really. How many accidents due to drinking every day in a metro area? It's naive to think it changes anything. Or should change anything.

Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor

I'm sorry but this story doesn't sound accurate. I suspect the informants you relied on were morons. First, the way LSD or MDMA function, mixing them in a water bottle and sipping on it all day isn't going to work very well. You need to take a reasonable dose of MDMA to actually get the desired effects, and getting it slowly into your system over a period of many hours simply won't work. Likewise the LSD. The main problem here, assuming the story is at all accurate is that the "Molly" is probably not MDMA but some alternative synthetics and dosage and purity etc are totally uncontrolled. Which is of course a problem stemming entirely from the prohibition of MDMA. If you want to save lives you allow people to bring in their pills and powders and provide a drug testing service inside the venue. Thinking you can create a drug-free music festival is insanity, so err on the side of harm reduction.

Frank Acosta
Frank Acosta

It's sad, a life is a life, but one death due to an overdose can be considered a success. I'm surprised nothing to the extent of 20 to 30 people dying at once hasn't happened..

Robertho VaSramz
Robertho VaSramz

Hello everyone hi Kathleen are u from mission viejo nice

Heather McCoy
Heather McCoy

What's the big deal? People are killed by our drones all the time and our media doesn't go on and on about it.

Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien

@shawn - sad state of affairs when a Harvard educated man uses such coarse language.

Gladys Perez
Gladys Perez

So sad that the love for music isn't enough and ppl have to take substance to have a good time

Jane Angeles
Jane Angeles

I would hope most pay hundreds for all the live music. Not to do drugs, sweat, and eat nothing in a desert with friends.

Andy Au
Andy Au

Only one person through out the weekend died from drug overdose. How ironic there wasn't more than one?

Jorge Orduna
Jorge Orduna

Bad choice to do drugs. Moral: too much drugs will kill you. Not sad.

Mike Frenes
Mike Frenes

This is like a rehash of what happened at the Colleseum some years back. Sad thing but not the first time or the last.

Shawn Thackrah
Shawn Thackrah

prolly tryin to impress some dude women love the cock

Sophia Murillo
Sophia Murillo

Its sad cause u get so pumped up u just do what u wanna do u dnt care cause u are having so much fun!

John Hald
John Hald

Why pay hundreds to do drugs sweat and not eat anything? I can do that in the desert with my buddies for the cost of gas money lol

Steve Byrens
Steve Byrens

And rape (17 reported last year) will never kill Stagecoach's alcoholic/ redneck/misogynist culture.

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