coachella 2 - getting in (in which your blogmistress violates the law and also her own lady parts)

Friday morning I do a thing that can't really be called "waking up", because the transition isn't that defined. I just sort of drift from a state of wakeful dreaming to one of dreamy wakefulness. I haven't gotten nearly enough sleep to healthily sustain myself for what the day has in store, but whatever, it's Coachella. I've been banking "healthy" for weeks, for just this scenario: eating well, exercising, barely drinking, and sleeping on as regular a schedule as I can.

I've been hoarding vice points, and I'm going to cash every one of those suckers in this weekend.

But it's only eight a.m., and vice is still fast asleep even if I'm not, so I order a small pot of coffee from room service and slide the heavy balcony door open. The desert morning is everything I remember: that certain quality of light, the redness of the dirt, the subdued chirping, and the unmistakably dry smell in the air. When I retreat back into the still-dark hotel room, I notice how prettily the daylight spills in, and I take a couple pictures of the view - and myself inserted into it. I post a rather risque shot of my legs and butt to Instagram, and feel a little giddy and hedonistic, doing so. And we're off...

After coffee and some emails, it's still only a quarter after nine, and much as I'd love to sneak in a little bit of R.E.M., I know my excitement will make it impossible. So I slip on my shoes and head downstairs to explore. It's hot, really hot, but before I know what I'm doing, I've broken into a light jog around the grounds. I quickly realize this is a waste of my energy, and head back to the cool of my room.

Showering, hair and makeup, dressing and packing my backpack are a snap, since I've already got everything neatly laid out for the day. The only thing that remains to be done before I leave is portioning out and hiding whatever drugs I want to take to the festival today.

Despite having meticulously planned out every other detail of my weekend, I'm still not sure how I want to go about this. I'm assuming that security at Coachella will be similar to what it's been at Bonnaroo and Outside Lands: a quick once-over of my bag and belongings, and the most cursory of pat downs. I've never had a problem smuggling contraband into a festival, whether I hide it in my bra or leave it more or less in plain view in my bag; say, inside my sunglasses case, or zipped into the coin pouch I use as a wallet. It's just never been an issue. (This is not to disparage the efforts toward safety and security that I've seen at the aforementioned festivals. But scouring festival goers' belongings for no-no's was just not a priority at them, in my experience.)

On this trip, I've brought a couple of small lidded mixing cups from an art supply store to stash my, uh, stash in. I wanted something that would keep the MDMA tablets and the mushroom pieces from getting crushed, when they were transferred, post-security, into my backpack. The cups are about the diameter of quarters, and maybe half an inch thick. They cost three dollars, I think, for a set of twelve.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated the near heart attack that these stupid little pieces of plastic would give me, in about two hours' time...


On the shuttle ride in, I'm antsy and anxious. I switch my phone back and forth from airplane mode about a half dozen times, trying to gauge how much battery power I lose after sending a handful of texts and replying to a few comments on Instagram. I've brought a mobile charging pack for my phone, but I hate the feeling of being incommunicado, and don't want to go dark until the last possible minute.

I glance down the front of my camisole about every thirty seconds, where I can see two lidded cups plainly. I've carefully divided out today's serving of Happy between them, as well as extra, Just In Case. Each container has a few pieces of magic mushroom, and two purple tabs of ecstasy - way more than I'll need or should take, but You Never Know. The tiny cups are resting in the space between the corset wiring of my top and the bottoms of my breasts. I plan on buttoning up the second shirt I've brought over my camisole, as soon as I get off the bus. The containers will be completely out of view, and can only be felt if someone very deliberately feels me up, essentially. The security persons who patted me down at the previous two festivals I attended barely touched my rib cage and sides, much less the area around my breasts.

I'm convinced I'm going to breeze through without a problem.


Well get out your popcorn, bitches, because shit is about to get entertaining.

There are two security checkpoints to get into Coachella, when you enter the festival on a shuttle. I did not know this.

Both security checkpoints are incredibly thorough. I did not know this.

Pat downs at these security checkpoints are extremely thorough. I did not know this.

I'm gonna paint you a picture of the next twenty minutes, which were some of the most nerve-wracking, if hilarious, of my entire life. First, know that it is some ninety degrees out. Blazingly hot. It's noon. The sun is beating down on me and a few ten thousand twenty-somethings. Fuck them. This is my story right now. But they were there. In clusters and pairs, loud, drunk, excited, singing, sweaty, and also loud.

I approach the first checkpoint, which is a series of metal scanning machines (for wristbands), manned by security teams of one man and one woman - men to pat down the men, and women to pat down the women. Since I'm one of a small handful of people disembarking the early shuttles, there are essentially no lines yet. It looks like this:

first security checkpoint

So everything happens really, really fast.

Before I know it, I'm standing in line behind two girls, both of whom are handing over their purses to be checked. I notice that security is looking through these purses pretty closely. Ok, no problem. Nothing in my bag, anyway...

Then I witness the first pat down. And I realize I'm fucked. Eight ways from Sunday fucked. I watch as the female security officer runs her hands over every inch of the girl's body. This is only a slight exaggeration. Forget rib cages. The security staff person not only firmly, slowly, and thoroughly slides her hands up and around the girl's sternum and bra line, she lifts the bottom of the girl's bra.


Now, think back to where I've told you my goods are. Oh, did you need a picture? No problem, I took one on the bus, because I thought I was so goddamn clever. Here you go!

Nice, right? LOLOL (side note: holy skin damage, Batman! WEAR SUNSCREEN KIDS!!!)

Now, imagine being me, with the above pictured load of organics/inorganics tucked oh-so-conspicuously into a bra top that, in about twenty seconds, is going to be completely felt up and pulled out. There is no way this woman is not going to feel these containers in my shirt. No way in hell. The jig is up. And if by some miracle she doesn't feel them with her hands, they're going to fall out when she slides her finger underneath the top with the express purpose of dislodging exactly this sort of shit.

But there are already people in line behind me at this point, and there is nowhere to go. If I were to step out of line, a) it would look majorly suspicious, and b) I'd have nowhere to go, anyway! There are no bathrooms at this checkpoint. The shuttles are leaving. The only traffic flow is through security and into the festival. Not to mention, it's broad daylight and I'm amongst maybe ten, fifteen people tops, most of whom are either looking directly at me or facing my general direction. If I reach into my shirt right now, it's going to be clear as day what I'm doing.

So as far as I can tell, I'm totally fucked. And there's nothing I can do but just go with it, and when I get busted, say something like, Oh well, you caught me, haha, you can just keep that stuff, thanks...I can haz entrance into Coachella Music Festival now, please?? 

Well, this is what happens: I'm next. I step up to the female security officer. I'm asked to take off my outer button down. I do so, and hand it over. She shakes it out. She looks through my bag. She asks me to open my sunglasses case, to unroll my socks.

All of this takes maybe fifteen seconds. It feels like hours.

She asks me to turn away, and then she pats me down, just as thoroughly as she did the previous two girls. My hips, my sides, my thighs - even the area around my crotch. Aaaaaand she gets to my top. Aaaaaaand sure enough, she feels the plastic containers in my bra. She's standing directly behind me as it happens. She's about twenty eight, maybe thirty years old. She's somewhat shorter than me. My face is turned back toward hers, so I see the look come into her eyes. A slight crease in her brow. Wait a second, what the heck is--

"It's the boning of my corset top," I blurt out, in the snottiest, smuggest, most condescending Valley girl tone I can muster. I look directly down at her, over my shoulder, as I say it. My voice brooks no dissent. It's the voice of a girl who is NOT going to deal with this shit, thank you so very much, because ohmygawd, it's hot okaaaayyy? And this is my rully awesome Free People top with CORSET BONING, okaayyyyy?? And could you be any stupider for not realizing that that's what you feel??  I mean, HELLO??

And people? It works. It unbelievably fucking works. The girl has her hands ON these plastic cups, she can feel them plain as day in her fingers, but whether it's my ohnoyoudon't tone, or the fact that it was all happening so fast, or the fact that she knew but just didn't want to deal with works.

And she says "Ok," and waves me through, and down the dirt path towards the festival field.

Which is great. Except that it's only the FIRST. FUCKING. CHECKPOINT.


So now I'm shaking like a leaf, obviously, and I know this isn't going to fly a second time. And people are starting to pour in by the thousand from the camping section, into the grassy area that constitutes this next, main security checkpoint. Lines of several hundred people are forming quickly. Clusters of kids singing, cavorting, downing the beers they can't bring in. Hot. So, so hot and sweaty.

By now I've transferred the containers to my backpack, for the short term, while I figure out what I'm going to do next. My "plan" (LOL) is to hang back and watch this security, to see what if any loopholes there are to getting through. There are so many people streaming in and pressing up that I'm convinced this has to be a more lax checkpoint - otherwise it would take an hour of waiting in line to just get into the festival.

Well, yeah. That's exactly what's going on. It is about an hour wait. And security is just as tight as it was at the first point. I see that almost immediately. In fact, it's even stricter - there is the added measure of requiring attendees to spread their legs as they receive their pat downs (#foreshadowing). I also see mounted security officers on horses, scanning the crowd for precisely idiots like me - people panicked and scrambling at the last second to hide their drugs.

At some point, I have a truly cringeworthy inner dialogue with myself, where I act as both my parents, every guidance counselor I've ever had, and a handful of my favorite professors (including my high school French teacher) - all shaming and scolding me for this ridiculousness, while I cower in a corner and just nod balefully. What the ever loving FUCK, Ellie? How old are you again? Are you really a nearly forty year old woman, trying to sneak drugs into a music festival?? Mon dieu!! 

Oui. Oui I am.

Welllllll, if you're a woman - or at least a man vaguely familiar with the female anatomy - you know where this story is going. It's going the only place it can go. It's going to the only place it can be kept a secret, and out of sight. The only place it will safely fit.

Yep. That's right. In broad daylight, in plain view of about a thousand (mostly sober) festival goers and at least one pair of mounted security officers (that I saw), your blogmistress crept off to as "private" a patch of grass against the fence as she could find, knelt down to pretend she was adjusting something in her backpack, and shoved two quarter sized plastic containers full of drugs up into her underwear. Thank GOD I was wearing a skirt, right?! Not to mention tight, non-thong underwear!

And let's get specific here. These pat downs? They included a nice little pat-pat-pat of the girls' bikini areas. This shit was no joke, yo. So I couldn't just slip those little guys down the front of my underwear. Oh no. They had to ride up in the undercarriage, if you know whumsaying. Without the help of any, you know, fastening agent? Like tape? Or pins? Or anything at all? That's how secure the cups were. In other words: NOT AT ALL. That's what I had to concentrate on not dropping, as I waddled walked back into line. That line looked like this:

second security checkpoint


Your blogmistress then maneuvered her way - with as natural a gait as she could muster - through a densely packed line of singing, cursing, yelling, laughing, drinking, and sweaty revelers, only occasionally reaching down to make, um, adjustments to her wardrobe and ensure the success of her mission. Basically, I looked like some kind of physically impaired person with a raging STD that I needed to scratch every other minute.


But bitches, success was had. I was patted, petted, felt up, looked over, and finally, nodded on through, at which point I shuffled my way into The Promised Land, with as cool a game face as I could fake, even though the whole time my thoughts were something like Ohholyshitohholyshitdontdropthemwalkslowohmygodaretheyfallingoutohholyshit, and proceeded with all due haste (if not much grace) to the nearest Port-a-Potty, where I triumphantly relocated my party favors into my backpack, where they goddamn well belonged, because while yes, I admit to enjoying the occasional hallucinogen or empathogen with my live music, I'm still a lady, goddamn it, and I don't appreciate the inconvenience of The Law getting in the way of my Recreational Drug Use, and forcing me to such drastic and truly unladylike measures, okaaayyyyy?

At any rate, I was in.