When Coachella tickets went on sale in January, I was at my computer with my click-finger at the ready. The possibility of seeing both Beyoncé and Gucci Mane — the king and queen of Lemonade — at the same event allowed me to suppress any feelings of guilt about not paying rent in order to afford the weekend pass. But alas, I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Tickets were sold out before I even had a chance to talk myself out of it.
Luckily for me, the only thing cooler than going to Coachella is pretending like you don’t want to. So when the news conveniently broke that the festival’s owner is an alleged backer of anti-LGBTQ groups and then Beyoncé cancelled her performance due to her pregnancy, I smirked right along with the rest of the Coachella naysayers. But the truth is that I probably did dodge a bullet for a couple of different, but very valid reasons.
I’m not rich. Because the high cost of passes, travel, and housing, there isn’t much class diversity at Coachella. The well-off get general admission tickets and the super-rich hang out in the VIP areas. So to be specific, I’m actually broke by the standards of people who can afford to book tickets on whim and still make rent. I can’t imagine that I’d fit in with anyone else there, and the inevitable consequences of my financial irresponsibility would literally eat me alive.
As such, Coachella is notoriously white. Beyoncé was set to be the first Black female performer to headline the event. And in terms of attendees? It’s whiter than the Oscars. Until college I actually thought it was something relating to Coach, the leather company. That’s how foreign the festival felt to my Black existence. I can only imagine the kind of overt and micro-aggressions I would have to choose to ignore for my own sanity were I to attend.
And then there is the Coachella “look.” It mainly involves bikini tops and tiny shorts — you know, all the stuff that everyone tells fat people not to wear under any circumstances. I’m fat and I’ve been known to rock a crop top and a short short in my day. But for some reason, I’m pretty reluctant to believe that the Coachella crowd is body positive. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever even seen a picture of a plus sized person at the festival.
All things considered, Coachella seems like a disaster waiting to happen for me. It reads like a land of unchecked privilege, and I don’t think there are enough drugs in all of California to change that. I would have to navigate these conditions in unbearable heat — I was literally born in the middle of Chicago winter, I’m not suited for desert life.
Now, I still wouldn’t pass up a couple of free weekend passes for 2018 — especially now that Beyoncé is confirmed to headline. I’m just saying that if I were to make it out unharmed, I’d probably just complain about the whole thing for years after it was over. And I think that’s okay.