Neon Carnival: The Adult Playground in the Desert
Anyone who has to been to Coachella, the three day annual music and arts festival held in the Coachella valley in Indio, California spanning across two weekends knows about Neon Carnival, one of the most coveted afterparties of the year and the most challenging party to attend. Neon Carnival returned for its eighth consecutive year to Thermal, California on April 15 thanks to the brainchild of famed LA nightlife, mastermind Brent Bolthouse. The carnival invite-only outdoors dance fête in the desert featured new amusement park rides, games, photobooths and return appearances from the biggest names in brands and entertainment. The whole experience created a child-like euphoria where once you walk in around 10 PM, the night is not only free, but free to do what you wish til the wee morning hours with 8,000 other dreamers.
“I love creating moments in time, people having a great time celebrating life. A carnival is timeless. If we are dragging them out, that’s success!” – Brent Bolthouse
The Levi’s® Brand, the iconic American denim inventor headlined the event. Tequila Don Julio returned for the third year in a row to pour specialty drinks from the Airstream Speakeasy and provided Don Julio 1942 bottle service for VIP tables, including a special debut of their new Magnum Don Julio 1942 bottle. Pizza from Urban Pie satisfied guests with multiple wood burning ovens. Batiste Dry Shampoo hosted on-site hair styling stations and offered samples to attendees seeking a quick hair refresh.
Tinder paired festivalgoers with new matches on their bumper car ride. Adding to the drink offerings, Bud Light was onsite with a cool double decker bus for guests to enjoy a beer and cool off before they tackled the rest of the carnival. Of course, photo and video opportunities with brands abound. Even Las Vegas nightlife leader Wynn Nightlife’s branded VIP area featured a giant custom art mural for social media. Hollywood heavy hitter DJ’s including Kayper, DJ Politik, Jesse Marco and DJ Ruckus kept partygoers dancing with performances that lasted into the early morning hours.
What may make this event so unique is not only dancing next to your favorite celebrity, but you can’t buy your way in, nor can you skip pass the door with numerous check-ins because your name must be registered on their computer system. You have to be invited because you are a celebrity, brand worthy, an influencer, in media or PR, or know someone who can get you in. You can’t even buy your way in with a table like a typical club, but this ain’t no ordinary night out. You must collect your wristband in Hollywood at undisclosed location announced a few days before or plan on waiting in line on site. The wristband (that is placed on you and can’t be removed unless cut off) this year came with a green one-of-a-kind Lokai bracelet that was presented for admittance.
This year party goers may have had more of struggle entering the adult playground. After waiting in a car line at opening, hundreds of attendees waited in shuttle lines to hop a school bus to enter the party. However, like in previous years, the vibe was electric and there was buzz in the air – everyone smiling and wanting to have a stellar time like kids waiting to experience something for the first time. In standard Coachella fashion, half naked girls in body suits with sheer cover-up dresses, customized denim, knitted bikini tops, cut-off jean shorts, bandanas, broad brimmed hats, neon, color chalked and braided hair, fringes, multiple necklaces, and glitter just about everywhere were all the rage.
This year proved to be another stomping ground for celebs. We spotted Coachella fashion pro, Victoria Secret’s model Alessandra Ambrosio frolicking around and hopping in the bumper car line, while three times throughout the night Drake walked by us with his posse to French Montana’s table. Aaron Paul and his wife Lauren continued their Neon Carnival tradition by arriving early to be seated at their private table partying the night away with good friends, while Leonardo DiCaprio closed out the night with his crew, adorned with models and bottles. As we filtered out at around 3:30 AM Amber Rose was getting flashed by the papparazi.
Other revelers included Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Diddy, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Nina Dobrev, Vin Diesel, Zedd, Ryan Phillipe, Halsey, Future, Taylor Hill, Sara Sampio, Jasmine Tookes, Joan Smalls, Michael Pena, G-Eazy, Gucci Mane, Alesso, Quincy Brown, Christina Milian, Scott Eastwood, Jhene Aiko, Kat Graham, Tove Lo, Tinashe, Cassie, Alexander Wang, Akon, Ashley Greene, Sophie Turner, Danny Masterson, Leona Lewis, Ryan Destiny, TY Dolla $ign and many more.