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Splash House Makes Smooth Return to Palm Springs for June Edition
It’s late on a temperate Friday evening in Palm Springs, Calif., and a hundred or so millennials are queued up to check in at the Riviera Resort before the Splash House box office closes at 10 pm. They look agitated, frustrated and eager to down the cases of champagne and beer nestled amongst their suitcases.
The hotel and festival employees are avoiding the venomous eye daggers coming from the line until it’s absolutely necessary, but solace can be found in the presence of the boutique festival's founder Tyler McLean. He is quietly observing the check-in process from the middle of the lobby and reassuring a smooth operation.
“We had some issues earlier, but everything is looking good now,” says McLean.
With a little patience and the foresight to go ahead and open up their cases of alcohol, the lubricated line sorts their wristbands and shuttles off to the Splash House afterparty at the Palm Springs Air Museum.
On June 10, Flight Facilities headlines the airport tarmac party that sits opposite two vintage warplane hangers. They play a “decade DJ set,” which delights with throwbacks from before the new millennium.
The stage’s lighting rig resembles an eleven-pointed crown that acts as a candescent beacon to the overhead travelers arriving in the desert night. The colorful display gives the dance floor a subaqueous mystique as the clock ticks into the next day.
The first night ends late, and Saturday morning starts slow. Half-naked partiers begin to drip out of their hotel rooms at the Riviera around noon and fill up the sparse shady areas. This is the first year Splash House has occupied the very modern resort, and patrons appear to embrace the loungey environment.
Relative to camping festivals, the audience is in more control of their experience because of the accessibility of the hotel rooms. They take breaks when they need them. They attempt proper hygiene. And contrary to typical festival culture, there isn’t a huge migratory push for everyone to face the stage.
“There is nothing like this,” says Lauren from Orange County, Calif. “We went to Coachella, but having your hotel room overlooking the stage is next level.”
The 23-year-old suddenly cuts the conversation and “run[s] back to the room” to take another shot and charge his phone.
Around mid-afternoon, headliner Jai Wolf hops out of his shower to a bedroom filled with cannabis smoke and an entourage that is escaping the desert heat. Before he makes his way to the main stage to play his set, he takes a minute to discuss the Splash House scene.
“I did Splash House last year, and I loved it,” says Jai Wolf. “It’s nice doing the tour then doing something like this because it’s casual. It’s fun. It’s just me playing the songs that I think people will chill to, so I definitely cater the set a little differently.”
Four miles southeast of Jai Wolf’s room, another party is brewing with a completely different experience. It takes fifteen minutes on one of the frequently running shuttle buses to land at Splash House’s staple residence, The Saguaro. The hotel has a 1970s retro aesthetic and provides an adrenaline-filled alternative to the Riviera’s commodious vibe.
In this location partiers are hanging from their rainbow-colored balconies shooting water guns at their peers below. The pool is packed wall-to-wall with “definitely swipe right” men and women, and the deck is crowded with people dancing to deep house. The stage faces east and jagged mountains the color of an elderly cigarette smoker’s teeth peer over hotel’s roof to the west.
Lee Foss is running through his set and mixing in deeper sounds before Nora En Pure finishes out the day’s pool party. He hops off the stage wearing a gold sequin head scarf underneath a flat brimmed hat and follows a few friends up to their hotel room.
“You have to make the realization that every [set] is different,” says Foss concerning the energy down at the Saguaro pool. “And as long as you’re not a jukebox, and you’re reading the room and being true to your artistic integrity, then you’re always going to come out feeling confident in yourself.” Foss’ sentiment resonates into sundown as Justin Jay carries on the party over to the Air Museum. The tarmac is bustling with sunkissed dancers squeezing out the last late night party of the weekend.
Odesza, FKJ and Guy Gerber round out the final evening and complete the middle ground between a Vegas pool party, a music festival and a Hollywood nightclub.
The Splash House staff takes a quick break then gets back to it for the August 12-14 rendition. Tickets are still available at splashhouse.com.