Coachella Parties 2012: Hollywood, Brands Favor First Weekend

The Coachella Music Festival has expanded to two weekends but entertainment marketers have front-loaded their inland invasion for the opening weekend

As the 2012 Coachella Music Festival expands to two weekends of the Black Keys, Radiohead and Dr. Dre, the lineup of branded mega-estates and pool parties remains largely a one-weekend affair — the first weekend of April 13-15.

"We want to get everyone when they are fresh, of course,” says Emily Coppock,  Vice President of Marketing for Lacoste.

Here’s an advance look at the social calendar for Coachella’s front-loaded first heat:

Lacoste L!ve’s Saturday and Sunday daytime pool parties at an estate in Thermal are the festival's answer to croquet gatherings. The grassy site looks like Greenwich, Conn., there are inflatable crocodiles in the pool and an on-site pop-up shop spiffs those who have been un-spiffed by a dusty afternoon at the polo fields.

Widely cited as one of the festival's top social events, the T-Mobile and Armani Exchange neon carnival will return to light up the desert on Saturday. While early discussions had the glowing Ferris wheel, rides and outdoor dance floor sparkling on both weekends, the pop-up late-night amusement park will amuse for one night only.

The “play” button that recently appeared on the top ribbon of Gmail and other Google pages will come to life as Google Play’s Magnified Artists will provide a live soundtrack. Despite the remote location and late-night curtain call, try to dodge the gypsy cabs offering rides all the way back to L.A. for $600. Last year, Rihanna was spotted a tour bus.

Simultaneously to the west at the Parker Palm Springs, English luxury fashion line Mulberry brings its private party back to the posh hotel.

The Hard Rock Hotel brand continues a productive spring of music-based events after last month’s “Sound of Your Stay” music lounge at the South by Southwest Festival. For Coachella, the hotel will convert the same Bermuda Dunes spread that was the PopChips house in years past (at left) into The Hard Rock Hotel Music Mansion for three afternoons beginning on Friday.

Eschewing the 50,000 promotional-item giveaway and the roaming branded ice cream truck of last year, Guess is opening its own stay-and-play destination, the “Guess Hotel”.

"Nothing fun ever happens in the desert before dark," according to Details magazine, whose "Details @ Midnight" series of VIP events has traveled the country offering intimate music performances over the past year. On Friday night, they'll pop up in a secret location that they're not emailing out until hours before the event.  

Perhaps because it's the new kid on the block, the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs is going for longevity with a DJ-heavy lineup spinning from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon. The self-described “virgin” property won’t be pure for long.

Dub Frequency and the “don’t-show-your-face” photo collective Hello Stranger will either be lonely or packed as one of the few hosts that will be partying on the second weekend. Filter magazine's annual Thursday night kick-off "Yacht Club" event, the one where people were actually clean and fresh, is also reloading for the uncharted territory of the second weekend. 

In Palm Springs, Gillian Zinser of TV's “90210” will host the Planet Blue and Foam Magazine event at the Alcazar Hotel.

Top-shelf promoters The Alliance, SBE and Night Vision Entertainment will bring enough velvet ropes to fill the 4.000-square-foot pool at the Mirage Artist Retreat, just outside the festival grounds. Look for the mob out front.