Coachella: The Influencer Olympics or Just a Sign of the Times?

Coachella: The Influencer Olympics or Just a Sign of the Times?

I bounce down the dusty path with a rhythmic strut on, influenced by the poolside champagne mules and desert-dry sunshine. To the left of me is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. To the right of me? The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. In front of me? You guessed it, another female competing for the title of being the MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN I HAVE EVER SEEN. I have never seen so many good looking people in one place, and I’ve been in a lot of situations which involve good looking people. We que up by the gates waiting to slither through the electronic security scanners (UK Festivals take note… or don’t?). My see thru’ pale eyes are blinded by a sea of diamanté netted dresses with nothing but a black thong bikini underneath. Shell suits and bucket hats don’t quite cut it here when it comes to the epitome of festival fashion. “OH NO! WE’RE GOING THROUGH THE GA (general admission) ENTRANCE” a group of girls behind me gasp as it dawns on them they’re at the wrong gate and they’re at a high risk of catching cooties from the ghastly commoners who grace the general grounds, who paid just $500 for their ticket, instead of getting it for free from a brand.

Security cleared and the bag (entry) secured, I weave my way through the impressive art installations and even more impressive collections of individuals, all huddled around the infamous Ferris wheel trying to get that perfect Instagram shot. I want in on the fun. “Will you take one of me with the wheel?” I ask my agent (lol joke, my friend) rhetorically, not waiting for an answer as I thrust my camera into her hands. “Yeah can you like, get lower? Get the wheel in. Make my legs look skinny. How’s it looking?” In my head I look like all those other girls. You know the ones. With the perfect silhouette. The best background. The impeccable lighting. The face-wide smile. My friend hands back my phone and as we huddle around to look back at the ahem-magic- of which we’ve most certainly just created, we can’t help but burst out into infectious laughter. What the fuck is that. A Victoria’s Secret Model I ain’t. “It’s not quite the image I had in mind” I manage to mutter through the breaks for air in the childlike giggling. Not willing to take all the credit for the god awful creations, my friend isn’t a professionally trained photographer either, and what we thought would be the next hottest post on the gram’ turned out to be more “wham, bam, no thank you ma’am”. “It must all be in the editing” my friend comforted me, whilst lying through her teeth. But then again you see, it really kind of is in the editing. And the model of course. And the photographer. The lighting. The app. The location. The filters. The camera. What attending Coachella taught me is that the images you see on Instagram- well, they’re fake. There’s always a million people around you, whilst these influencers manage to be in a half empty field (or not at the festival at all). The lighting isn’t a bleached app hue and everyone doesn’t live under a permanent state of a sun-kissed warm tone. This doesn’t mean I enjoy the festival any less, in fact it’s allowed me to give less of a shit about comparing myself to the impossible professionally taken and edited Instagram posts I see online, and accept that the magic I can create with my face, a Judy and an iPhone 8s is a little bit different than what the girls being sponsored to be at the festival and being followed by agents, social media managers, content creators and professional photographers can produce- and that’s alright by me.

The not-so money shot.

We worm our way through the flower bed of influencers to collect our ID band- a tradition which has not been passed on to it’s British equivalents. This is my fourth time visiting Coachella (I know, I’m a lucky sod) but each year without fail the individual blessed with the importance of checking my pink plastic will still squint at me with a judgemental glare, and act as if they’re doing me a favour granting my 26 year old self exclusive access to the sweet fountain of alcohol that awaits. The alcohol system they have in place at the festival is one of the most obvious differences to me as a beer guzzling Brit. Whilst in a UK festival you’d be handed a warm can of Amstel for a fiver, here cold beer is on tap, which I guess is why you pay $11 a pint (this is the cheapest drink you’ll get btw, so you better get comfortable with it). If ever we decided to splash out and get the $18 *gulp* tequila shots in, then buy either State law or maybe just plain boring festival rules, they have to serve it with ice so you can’t just neck it- which kind of defeats the point. Then, in typical American fashion, there’s the awkward “How much do you want to tip?” Screen which flashes up and glares at you with it’s readily marked percentages. SOZ to say but not sorry to admit it, by pint 3 we’d reached British confidence level of selecting “no tip” and scurrying off before the server could give us the evil eyes. I know, I get it, we’re bad people. But you’ve literally handed me a readily poured pint whilst barely raising a smile, and quite frankly that’s just not enough to get a British person to part with their hard earned ca$$$h. Shuffling along with our tail between our legs and a pint in our hands, we find a spot to enjoy the liquid gold in our cups. Except we’re limited for seats. Because for some reason which I’m yet to fathom why, you’re not allowed to take alcohol out into the main area. Fenced in like cattle, you’re confined to the grounds within these white walls. Which might not be a problem for the average tee-total member of generation Z, but for two booze-guzzling Welsh women it certainly switches up your festival experience. There’s nothing better than the sun beaming down on your glittered and sunburnt scalp, a luke-warm pint of Carlsberg in hand, watching some indie-band playing songs you’ve never heard of whilst you’re being rained on by liquid which you hope is just beer, but in your heart know the likelihood is that it’s someone’s piss. But those sweet UK festival memories will not be made out in the desert; in fact it seems no one really gets steaming here at all. We succumb to defeat and find a spot in our pen to watch the main stage from, and that’s where we’ll set up camp for the next three days of the festival (you’ll notice on my Coachella vlog that all the clips of artists are filmed from the exact same angle – the bar!).

Where do all these people go in everyone else’s Insta posts?!

All around us people are posing for pictures. One girl is sprawled out on the floor, another is holding up a product, someone else is pretending to walk whilst going nowhere. Coachella is the only place in the World where you can look like an egotistical twat, and no one can judge you for it. But for all it’s fake-assery and pretentious-ness, there’s something about this festival which draws me back every damn time. The location is beautiful. The guaranteed sunshine changes your whole mood. There’s a laidback vibe to the place (this might have something to do with the stench of weed everywhere you turn). The art installations are incredible. The organisation is smooth. The acts are great. It’s just a bloody great place to have a bloody great time. I’ve seen influencers posting about how “it’s not what it seems” or “how it’s not fun anymore” and I understand everyone has a different experience, but your personal experience will be what you make it. Sure, everyone’s after that money shot for their gram’, but isn’t that just a sign of the times we’re in? People take pictures of the chicken nuggets and chips their mums made them for dinner, of course you’re going to want a picture next to a 100ft moving Astronaut. But it’s not all content creation and posing for photos. All around there are tens of thousands of people that are enjoying the music and making memories with their friends; soaking in the atmosphere and forgetting about how many likes their new post has got. If you’re being paid to be there, under the pressure of getting content to post for your sponsors and having to take separate outfits with you just to get a decent promo’ pic, then yeah, you’re probably going to have a shit time. But if you’ve been dreaming of visiting this magical place in the desert, to party with your friends and have a holiday of a lifetime, then go, and make it what you want it to be. Plus, imagine how good your Instagram feed will look afterwards. It’s a win, win if you ask me.

Catch my Coachella and LA Travel Vlog, going LIVE on YouTube Tuesday 30th of April!

Two beer’s in and Instagram content secured, you can rest in the knowledge that we were having a bloody great time.
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The Not So Lonely Hearts Club: Valentine’s Re-boot

It’s the evening of February the 14th, and after a day full of small gestures of self-love I’ve poured myself a large glass of Merlot and hunkered on down to put together this piece. The topic of being alone is one in which has graced my ‘blog idea’s’ notes for a while now, but there was something about today, Valentine’s Day it seems, which has magnetised me towards my keyboard and made me actually punch out some words.

A day full of “Boy done good” facebook posts and shouts of declaration, Instagram pics of throwback holiday destinations. Trending topics on twitter of how people try to snag dates, and reassuring messages from my family and mates. “There’s always next year” they lovingly share, worrying that I’m sitting home in despair. “I wonder who he’ll be, what he’ll do, what he’ll look like” I promise you mum, I’m really alright. For amongst all the glee, the roses and the clutter, I’m fine here alone, making pancakes with butter.

Image by Jessie Cave. Instagram @jessiecave

My Facebook memories flashed up with an old post reminder, of my housemate’s gallant efforts to wine and fine dine her. But the her was me, and the housemate was she and we dined in alone, the two singles of May Street. That night I was greeted by a “What you doing?” text, I should’ve said I’m busy, but we all know what comes next. Thirty minutes later and there’s knocking at the door “That’ll be for me!”, for that I was sure. In strides my blonde Valentine’s booty call, a bag of Haribos’ in hand, he’s not that bad after all. After a brief introduction and a token gesture chat, we ditch my housemate- I was fickle like that. Craving some contact, some romantic attention, we head on upstairs giving the day not much mention. For it’s really quite sad that we’re entwined in eachother, caved to the day’s pressures of needing a lover. February the 15th came and we said our goodbye’s, now don’t get me wrong- he’s a good looking guy- but did I feel any more satisfied, than if I’d of text back “I’m busy” and lied? I still had no boyfriend, no flowers, no date. Just bags under my eyes from staying up way too late. The fling was just that, a few times thing, turns out he wasn’t looking for a Queen to his King. So by the time February 14th came back around, I reassured myself I’ll be fine if he hasn’t been found.

It’s been six years now, and I’ve still got no date, but this time I’m less eager to go searching for a mate. For heartache and rejection certainly leaves a scar, but what is most damning is finding out who you are. I’m single, I live alone, I work alone too, and through my life lessons I’ve certainly grew. Through brushing off the embarrassment of standing alone at a bar, to travelling solo across countries, near and a far. To weddings and family gatherings without a plus-one, to realising I’ll be fine when my friends have all gone. And by gone, I don’t mean disappear off the earth, but follow along paths of marriage and birth. Pathways that I hope to step on one day, but I won’t let fear of being alone get in my way; Or force me down rabbit holes I’m not ready for, all because they tell me time’s ticking- and more. For being truly comfortable as single old me, can only prepare me for being a two– or a three. And when I fear most that I’m quite happy alone, I remember the thought of my house becoming a home. Love shouldn’t be forced just because I’m getting older, for fake love will only ever grow colder. I’m happy as one, I’ll be happier as three, but right now I’m content with just being me.

New Year: Don’t Look Back in Anger

New Year: Don’t Look Back in Anger

As the year draws to a close I’ve found myself musing over the past 12 months and torturing myself on what didn’t quite go to plan. “This will be my year” is a phrase which has penetrated my vocabulary and exposed itself simultaneously each time January comes back around. The notion that the clock strikes midnight on December the 31st and shunts a “new you” into formation is an idea in which I have indulged in through the seek of pleasure and to rid past disappointments. January the 1st has become a metaphor in so many of our lives; A scapegoat to the trials and tribulations of the past 365 days in which we barely kept our heads above the water. “This year will be different”. We thrust all our hopes and dreams which have built up over past ages into a new realm, beaming with the possibility that things won’t go to shit over the next 13 moon cycles. But what if this approach is only setting us up for failure? You see, the issue which has evolved within me of the decrepit catchphrase “New Year, New me” is that behind it’s glossy and buoyant exterior is the underlying notion that there was ever something wrong with the old me, the matured me, the battered and bruised through approximately 9,371 days on this planet me.

When things are going good, then it’s fucking great. That awe-inspiring feeling of your avenue into eternal happiness finally laying it’s marble tiles in alignment with your dreams. I’ve been on this path way and skipped up my sunflower-lined avenue many of times in my 1338 weeks on this earth. I’ve planted trees across the Atlantic and smelt the roses as far away as Tahiti. I’ve scattered my petals across publishing houses and studio sets, and swam in the most crystal of seas. I’ve rooted myself amongst some of the finest flower beds on this Universe, entangling myself with a unique array of species I now call my best friends. But whilst burying myself in a rabbit hole of disappointment this year, I almost forgot the tunnels in which I have ran. 2016 was a specifically good year for me. One in which I continue to reminisce on whilst stealing any potential future happiness through comparison, with thoughts that nothing will ever live up to those first-time experiences and fire-igniting discoveries within myself. Anything since then has just been catch up. A chase in which to reach the end of the rainbow that I potted approximately 36 months ago. I’ve read that some of the lowest points for young adults often affect the most ambitious. Those who set their bar so high that they are destined to fall before they can fly.

We live in a culture where we are obsessed with setting goals and achieving things; With living our lives as if they are a shopping list, ticking off buying a house and getting married like you’re picking up bread and milk from the supermarket. But our lives are not lists and our journeys do not begin with a trolley and some eggs. Our avenues are not always tiled in marble but paved with cracks and missing stones. A year of setbacks or failing to manifest everything on your calendar within the given space of 525,600 minutes should not be cast down as defeat. Of course having ambition and a vision for what you are going to work towards is a healthy and important aspect of life. It ignites the fire in our bellies and wraps us in purpose, but we must not endorse it as our only purpose.

A handful of some of the highlights of my year ❤️

What I have come to realise this year is that we are so much more than the house, the car, the job, the relationship, the baby, the holiday. We have wasted not one of our 31,536,000 seconds this year. This was our year because we are still here. I was prepared to look back on this year as a write off, a crestfallen chapter to my happy ever after. I placed all my value on my goals and achieving professional and material status. I haven’t done this so I can’t be that. Next year I will be this so I can be that. I was willing so fruitfully to toss aside 365 mornings of waking up alive and healthy as a failure, because I have not reached the industry level that I so nobly set upon myself 365 evenings ago. But whilst my shopping list may not have been complete, I have sank my roots much deeper than they were 52 weeks ago and added an immeasurable and invaluable ring of experience to the pattern of my life. I have spread my pollen further, scattered my petals wider and planted my seeds in a bottomless pot of endless opportunity for growth and hope.

This year saw me pick up a bike for the first time in thirteen years and cycle across France on an invaluable memory making journey with my Dad, whilst raising funds for a wonderful charity. For my 25th Birthday, I raised a glass of bubbles in Beverly Hills with two of my best friends and danced front row at Coachella to some of the World’s most talented artists, surrounded by people I love. I have watched my relationships with my family grow to a deeper level through strength and resilience as we drew closer whilst loving, and losing, the head of our small dynasty. As cliche as it may sound, I have laughed harder and smiled wider with my friends than ever before- seriously, you all fucking rock. I have (occasionally) beat my inner procrastination monkey to finally set up this blog (That IS something I can tick off the shopping list!) and although I have slipped off some stepping stones along the way, I have never given up on chasing my dream; I have never given up on the old me. This January I won’t be saying hello to the new me, but commit to watering the 25 rings of my life with love and gratitude; Preparing to sprout new buds of abundance and seasoning my avenue with lessons learnt, filling in the cracks one marble tile at a time.

Raise a glass of bubbles to your personal achievements of the last 12 months, however big or small, and remember it’s okay to pat yourself on the back and remind yourself of how far you’ve come in- even if that is just waking up this morning.

Cheers to you!

Happy New Year!

X

Friendship: A love letter to my friends.

Friendship: A love letter to my friends.

I glance across the table as you take a sip of your drink, red wine of course, we’re adults now. We catch up as we swap stories of our adventures and glee, of beer fear and the hangover anxiety that claimed you last week, as it does after every heavy night. Laughter engulfs your face from your mouth to your eyes like a thief of sadness, and his merry men take over mine too. I bask in this happiness, the reliable waterfall of sun rays between us as we reminisce on old times and dream about the future ahead. This is joy. This is friendship.

I have spent so much of my time joking about having no friends, feeding into this gag of being alone and offering myself up as the jester. Yet somewhere amongst all the satire I have regretfully bypassed the ones who are right there. The ones who have always been there. I have, perhaps selfishly (most definitely selfishly) watched my friends grow whilst expecting our friendship to stay the same. As priorities change, then people change too. This is something I did not understand, or perhaps more something I did not want to understand. Why don’t you want to come get drunk with me last minute, on a school night, when you have an exam tomorrow? I convinced myself that my friends were dispersing, abandoning me to enthral themselves in lives of boyfriends, and jobs, and new friends, and new cities. In lives where I was not invited. But it seems the invites were always there, I just forgot to RSVP.

They say if a friendship lasts 7 years, then you will be friends forever. I have several of these friendships. I have friendships that span nearly twenty years, built on the basis of fear as a six year old in an unfamiliar town and grown as my own personal comfort blanket of warmth and familiarity. I have friendships that started on the cusp of my freedom, formed at a burly block of student flats and made between jäger bombs and the-day-after-the-night-before chats where we would all accumulate in one bed to eat pizza. I have friendships that grew from a friend-of-a friend to a deep intimacy and companionship of understanding where no secret, or story is withheld. I have friendships that evoked in an old town pub, between 80’s hits, Cointreau and a love for getting pissed. I have friendships that have formed from bra-shedding, nipple flashing and a complacency for each other’s nudeness. I have friendships which are less than 7 years old, but feel like they have been there my whole life. I have friendships founded at work, and tested in a Karaoke bar in New York. I have friendships I can call upon in my hour of need, be it for a drag show companion, a moan down the phone or a prosecco gulping Saturday afternoon, to moan a little bit more. I have friendships with those who are older, wiser, whose life experience both provokes and galvanises me. I have friendships where months and years pass by without seeing each-other, yet we always seem to pick up where we left off. I have friendships who have seen me cry over a boy and overlooked as I ignored their advice, Friendships who were still their to hug me a week later when I cried again over the exact same thing. I have friendships which have made me laugh until I couldn’t breathe and cry through tears of happiness and disbelief that these are my people, and these are mine. I have friendships.

I don’t know if this appreciation for those around you grows as you get older, but as I roll in after another night out, another quick drink, another walk with the dog, another VK, another city break or another shared tray of chips, the completeness in which runs through me feels like an ever expanding infinity pool, with no end in sight. A text, a WhatsApp, a ‘liked’ picture or a voice note. Every expression of affection soars through me like a bird of prey and sometimes, usually after three tequila shots, I feel like I could fly. The high you get from receiving love from someone you care so deeply for is a drug I wish I could be addicted too forever. The feeling of love from like minded people, from your chosen ones, from your extended family, is a love which I will to never disappear. As your lives change, I hope I will change with them, adapting and bending to keep these special people entwined within this new family tree I’ve grown. I may not have enough friends to fill a church, but I have enough friends who fill my soul. And so, I would just like to say to you and to everyone here, “Gracias para vivar en la casa, en la escuelas, en… en la azul… “markada”. Tienes con “bibir” en las Fortuashla?”. You are my best friends, and I treasure you. ❤️