INDIO, CALIF. Here's the thing about Coachella: It's three days of relentless sensory stimulation. So when gathering a group of festivalgoers for a late-night after-party, it's wise to give them a lot to do and look at, lest you lull them to the sleep they might finally realize they need after a long day in the desert heat. One host's solution: a full-on carnival, complete with rides, games, fast food, and a mechanical moose.
Armani Exchange and 944 magazine presented what they called the Neon Carnival, a Saturday night party that began around 11 p.m. outside at Tradition Aviation, a private airport in Thermal, California, about eight miles from the festival grounds. In addition to the rides and games, there were eats from Chipotle and Fatburger, and tunes spun by DJs Devin Lucien, Jesse Marco, and DJ Politik for dancing on a central dance floor surrounded by booth seating. Armani Exchange marked the launch of its limited-edition Neon sunglasses, available as prizes at game stations.
Even in a remote area of the desert that resembles the surface of the moon, the party drew a celebrity quotient similar to a hot-ticket party nearly 150 miles West in Los Angeles. Paris and Nicky Hilton and Camilla Belle were among the guests. Josh Hartnett took a ride down a towering, bumpy slide, and Kellen Lutz went for a spin on the bumper cars.
Armani Exchange senior vice president and brand director Patrick Doddy worked with Brent Bolthouse on the event's production. Bolthouse has previously worked in the Saturday night slot for T-Mobile parties. ”944 and Armani Exchange are two powerful brands in which music and arts are part of their foundation. As the new publisher of 944, teaming up with Armani Exchange seemed like a natural progression,“ Bolthouse said. “We've been partnering with BNC, now PMK-BNC, for the last two years with the T-Mobile Tone Def After-Party, but T-Mobile couldn't return, so this year we had to change it up to continually make it better, and we came up with the Neon Carnival, giving festival fans the chance to be a kid at heart with all the fun.”
Among the sponsors were Brita FilterForGood, which hosted a water game and kept guests hydrated in the evening heat by providing water and reusable bottles; Harry & David’s Moose Munch, which supplied the mechanical moose ride plus dessert samples; and Jose Cuervo Platino and Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka, which offered its newest variants, Ciroc Red Berry and Coconut at the bars. Proceeds from the event benefited the Surfrider Foundation.
“The carnival format is an event concept I have always wanted to do,” Bolthouse said. “I got the idea when we did an event where we shut Magic Mountain for the opening of a new ride where I invited 4,000 of my closest friends. It was really awesome to see these adults acting like kids, and since then it has been a goal to create a one-of-a-kind experience like that.”