[Editor's Note: Typically our interaction with security guards at Coachella is limited to either avoiding them or hiding drugs from them. This year, we met local man Michael Dwaileebe who was working as a security guard during Weekend One. He offered to give us a behind the scenes look at his experience working the festival and all the madness that entails. This is his story.]
By: Michael Dwaileebe
To best understand my thee days and nights in the desert, it is best to understand me. I am a 49 year-old, white overweight stoner who likes his cushy bed. So I headed out to Coachella with a tent, a sleeping bag and everything I need for my journey. Checking in was a nightmare from the start. There was a long line in a dusty parking lot in the sun to a small tent with two workers dealing with over 500 people. After about three hours, I got my wristband and headed to the staff campsite almost a half mile from the venue.
The camp didn't seem too bad at first. The grounds looked good, about 25-30 shitters, the semi trailer with a shower and a big ‘ol tent towards the back that looked impressive. I set up camp next to the fence in the first open spot I could find (animal instinct I guess). I ended up camping next to a group of Samoan guys who set up the long maze of barriers that made your Coachella experience so organized. Smartest move of my journey. These dudes were the best. I made friends with them from the start and they even broke bread with me (shout out to Nikko!).
Friday morning was chaotic. I got up at 5a.m., and had to do a quick whore shower because there was no organization. Then it was off to get my daily assignments. I stood in line inside the giant hangar-looking building for three hours. Once again, pushing, shoving, total chaos. My first assignment of the day was to stand center left of the stage, at the VIP cut off point. My job was to check wristbands and answer questions. If shit breaks out, find a cop. Don't get involved. Things in the area went pretty smooth, till Kylie Jenner and about 30 of her friends tried to bum rush a security checkpoint leading to the backstage area. By the time I got there, the Riverside Sheriff had their asses in check. I rushed back to my post, so I don't know what happened after that. I get back to the camp around 2:30 a.m. exhausted as fuck and everyone else was partying. Even with the high winds, the pot smoke was still all around. I went in my tent and did my best to get some sleep.
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I got up early enough Saturday morning to hit the showers and get ready for the day. They are all trickling water. What the fuck! The staff camp’s population is more than 70% black, maybe 20% white, about 5% Samoan, a few Mexicans and 1 asian guy. There was this big white tent on the ground that at first I thought may have been a kitchen area. Turns out it was a big empty tent for anyone without one. Everyone started referring to it as the "Section 8 Tent." The inside was a depressing human squander with no lights or rules. People were saying others were going through their stuff. I made friend with a guy from South Central L.A. He was telling me a lot of them were bussed in from Victorville, San Bernardino and L.A.
Man, these guys really love their Chronic and keep referring to each other as “my nigga.” The poor asian guy walked past once and someone yelled out “Hey, did somebody order takeout! Bring it over here, my nigga!”
“I went to to get my assignment for Saturday and was told I was working at one of the gates all night. Shit!!!!!!! The main reason I took this gig was to see Guns N' Roses! Yesterday I was close enough to the main stage, I could throw a rock at it.
There were four of us assigned to watch over (and not to touch for any reason) these containers of confiscated shit. There were pipes, bags of pills, bags of weed, knives, flasks, booze, beer, chains. There was a mountain of this shit by 9 p.m. The cool thing is no one got arrested, except for a few people who got out of hand. One guy had this big bag of pills taken from his pocket and decided to throw a stink about. The security guard told him that he would be glad to get a Sheriff over for him to talk to. The guy went on his merry way. Even though I didn't see any bands that night, I still heard the whole thing loud and clear. I left Sunday morning, could not hang for day three. Had to get back to the family.