The Crowd Snake and other Coachella Phenomena

By | April 23, 2015 at 1:32 am | No comments | Coachella, Columns, Feature Stories

By Laura Little

The annual convergence that is Coachella provides an opportunity to experience culture at all levels. From noteworthy musical performances by tried and true acts, to up-and-coming bands performing for the first time on a massive stage, to grand scale art, to special effects and cutting edge AV technology, to fashion, to celebrity appearances, to environmentally conscious recycling, to nostalgic camp activities, Coachella has cornered the market on pop culture each spring. But this article is not about that. It’s about the crowd. Especially you with the GA wristband.

Simultaneously trend setting, sublime and ridiculous, Coachella offers the voyeur a weekend of people watching compare none. For the participant, it is an opportunity to try on and show off a persona for a weekend in virtual anonymity among thousands of people. My favorite dynamic to witness is that of crowd behavior.  In this environment, certain normally undesirable actions become a matter of self-preservation.

How many of these do you recognize?

The Crowd Snake. This is the line of people cutting through an impassable crowd in a train formation, often fronted by a self-appointed leader holding a hula hoop, umbrella, or enlarged celebrity cut out.

Frogging The Express Lanes. A steady flow of pedestrians 3-4 people wide in both directions, mostly keeping to road rules staying to the right of oncoming traffic. Except there’s always a Frogger (yes, an 80’s video game reference) darting through and whilst most make it, there’s an occasional splat. Never pretty.

Involuntary Crowd Convergence. This phenomenon occurs when something surprising happens onstage, causing a magnetic attraction of everyone around to converge on the spot. Perfect example was when Angus Young rose out of the center of the crowd on a lift during AC/DC’s set.

The Sitters. Controlled by one thought: Can’t. Go. On. Must. Rest. Wherever they just happen to be. Most prevalent on day three after sunset. Don’t step on them and take your crowd snake around, please.

I must admit, I found myself participating in (subjected to) a few of these. I am not proud of the step-overs, cut-throughs and push-asides. So I send a blanket apology to anyone who I may have run over. Like you, I believe it was a necessary part of finding my position in the audience to experience one amazing performance after another.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to honor and commend the Good Friends out there who tended to their wasted counterparts. You have a special place in heaven one day…or at the very least, next year it’s your turn.

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