A tentpole of the Hollywood social calendar is off to the races.
Neon Carnival — hospitality and nightlife czar Brent Bolthouse’s celebrity-stocked overnight party — is moving to the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, The Party Report has learned.
The invite-only bash that comes around like a comet once a year, whipping up a frenzy as an unaffiliated side party during Coachella’s opening weekend, is set for Saturday night, April 14.
For the past 10 years, it’s been the post-festival stop of choice for Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood (above), Drake and Rihanna — all enjoying ferris wheels, bumper cars and outdoor bottle service. The oddball location just adds to the mystique.
Populated by the go-getters of young Hollywood — talent, agents, managers, publicists, and producers — it’s a night of dancing under the stars that until now, has consumed the tarmac of a private airport in the middle of nowhere.
“We’re staying in the same neighborhood,” Bolthouse told The Party Report this week. “We’ve entered into what we believe is a long term relationship with HITS, which is right next door to the airfield.”
If overlayed on West Hollywood, the grounds housing Neon Carnival would extend from the Beverly Center to the Grove (CoachellaValley.com)
The park is more frequently used as a show grounds for million-dollar equestrian events. It hosts a circuit of show jumping competitions from January to March each year and is justifiably engineered for large crowds.
“We have more room at HITS than we ever did at the airport,” Bolthouse added.
Rihanna and Leonardo DiCaprio at a prior Neon Carnival. (Getty Images)
About the Size of West Hollywood
At 239 acres, let’s put this into perspective for Angelenos: If we overlayed the new home of Neon Carnival across West Hollywood, the swath would encompass the Beverly Center on the west and extend down every block between Beverly Boulevard and Third Street moving east through and including the CBS lot, the Farmer’s Market, and the Grove, 1.3 miles east. It’s a huge footprint.
“It gives us the ability to ebb and flow as years come down the pike,” Bolthouse said.
8,000 Invite-Only Guests
As the event has swelled from a few hundred L.A. insiders winding down in a hangar to an event with its own illuminated traffic control signs, corporate sponsors, and a fraudulent secondary ticket market, it has remained a tough invite — even for those on the upper rungs of the celebrity food chain. For one of the choice 30 VIP tables amongst an already elite crowd, the real estate is scarce.
“The thing about Neon Carnival is, Leo doesn’t come with one friend. He comes with a big crew of people,” Bolthouse explained. “They need three or four tables. When people like that are taking three or four tables, you can imagine how 30 tables disappear pretty fast.”
Aaron Paul at the 2017 event. (Getty Images)
In this picture below from 2017, Drake (left) arrived after performing on the Coachella main stage with Future earlier in the night. Check out Diddy just casually floating in the crowd (frame right).
“Puffy doesn’t come with two people,” Bolthouse continued. “On a normal night, he is with 10 people. At Coachella he’s with 25 people. Everything seems to be bigger and more groups of people coming together.”
Cameron Huston (NVE Entertainment), DJ Ruckus, Bolthouse, and DJ Jesse Marco. (Getty Images)
You Can’t Buy Your Way In
Bolthouse’s team sets up multiple days of advance check-in and wristband distribution in Los Angeles. This eases VIP congestion on the night. It’s also spawned some unauthorized Craigslist entrepreneurship.
“We’ve got new wristbands this year that are impossible to get off your wrist,” Bolthouse warns. “It’s going to be harder for people to slip them off and sell them.”
The official website is warning the wannabes.
Despite new wristbands and a new home, some familiar guideposts return. From London, the criminally underexposed Kayper returns. She’s a scratch DJ (not like Alesso or Zedd, who were in the crowd as guests last year). Fellow Neon residents DJ Ruckus, DJ Politik, and Jesse Marco will split shifts between 10 p.m. and the stated 4 a.m. finish.
Levi’s and Tequila Don Julio both return as the flagship sponsors with activations throughout the space. Wynn Nightlife (the Vegas engine behind clubs XS, Intrigue, and similar weekly outdoor bacchanalia at Encore Beach Club) is also onboard. Rembrandt Flores and EFG continue to helm the event publicity.
“We try to create something that you don’t see at the festival,” Bolthouse said. “This should feel more like a party and not like a concert. You get that when you book great nightclub DJs.”
And if Beyonce wanted to make this her Saturday night concert after party?
Bolthouse has a plan: “We would welcome her with open arms”
Editors’ Note: The Neon Carnival has no affiliation with and is not endorsed by Coachella or Goldenvoice. Neon Carnival takes place Saturday night, April 14 at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California, not the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport. Admittance is by invitation only and neither wristbands nor tables are for sale anywhere. The writer of this post has no access or control over invitations. He just interviews the event’s creative ensemble.
Drake and French Montana
The two rappers hung out in the VIP bleachers at the Levi's and Don Julio Neon Carnival on Saturday night. They were joined by a lot of big names, like....Getty Images
Leonardo DiCapioGetty Images
(Who took a ride down the multi-story slide)Getty Images
This is an impressive turnout for a remote private airport tarmac in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.Getty Images
Cole Whittle and Joe Jonas of DNCE with Nick Jonas
Two of the three brothers Jonas arrived to Neon Carnival together. British female DJ Kayper had the dance floor packed even hours after the bars stopped serving alcohol. Superstar DJ Alesso was in the booth observing.Getty Images
Before she would host her own Easter Sunday brunch and easter egg hunt with her shoe line, the "Chained to the Rhythm" singer popped up at the Bootsy Bellows Estate where Chevrolet threw a party for their all-electric Bolt EV.Chevrolet
Saturday was another sun-soaked and perfect day on the fields.Getty Images
Enter the Gaga
Lady Gaga began her headlining set with a curious two-and-a-half minute, non-vocal, hardstyle electronic riff of images that included both her face and "Coachella" blasted on the screens.Getty Images
The mother monster not only debuted a new song, she also debuted a new haircut. Would we call this "Sharon Stone?"
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She rocked through "Born this Way" and an amped up version of "Just Dance". After the Super Bowl and now Coachella in the same three months, I'm not sure what she has to do next to win the "2017 Triple Crown of Music".Getty Images
Maybe this? Gaga's Saturday night performance broke Coachella's 10-year drought of not having a solo female headliner.Getty Images
What?!? The reclusive former Fugee was a total shock appearance during DJ Snake's sub-headlining set on the Outdoor Stage.Getty Images
She sang "Killing Me Softly" and "Ready or Not".Getty Images
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Drake and Future
After they teamed up on 2015 mixtape "What a Time to Be Alive", Future invited his pal from Toronto to join him on the main stage.Getty Images
For Drake, it was time to wipe the slate clean on the same stage where he admits he "took an L" (a loss) for his headlining performance in 2015.Getty Images
The Weeknd is another Coachella alum who made a surprise return to the Empire Polo Fields. He joined fellow Canadian NAV's set.Getty Images
Earlier in the day, The Weeknd and Selena Gomez were spotted walking across the fields with hulking security guards in front of and behind them.Getty Images
For the second time in three years, Tycho packed in a huge crowd for their ambient and mellow hour around sunset.Getty Images
The Heineken House continues to be the most exclusive and intimate of all the music venues on the grounds. Here, Atlanta producer Zaytoven played on Saturday. The line outside stretched around the white building in the center of the fields. It is worth the wait.BFA Agency
This shows the intimacy of the Heineken House. Besides the line outside, there are no lines to get to the taps. George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic played a full two-hour set for a crowd this size.BFA Agency
Botnek, Eptic, DJ The Chicago Kid, and the under-appreciated Chuckie are all back at the house for Coachella Weekend 2.
John Janick and Jared Leto
The Interscope CEO hung out with the actor-musician at the label's house. Leto is a Coachella regular.Getty Images
Tyler the Creator
The leader of Odd Future knows when he is getting paparazzi'd. The monochromatic poet was snapped inside the Bootsy and PacSun party. Tyler, please note that we did not snipe this photo of you.Chevrolet
Days after being arrested in Florida, Tory Lanez performed in the Sahara Tent with a minimalist set. It was just him and a DJ, and the crowd loved it just the same as Empire of the Sun's broadway style production in the same space hours later.
Joe Jonas and Giorgio Moroder
The former boy-bander met the dance music legend behind "Midnight Express", "Scarface", "On the Radio", and "Call Me". It was a clash of generations as the two played Republic Records and SBE's Hyde Away on Saturday afternoon.Getty Images
The "Scream Queens" star also joined in the afternoon of music and backyard cocktails at the Hyde Away.
..wants you to click over for more Coachella pics.
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Shane West and Brittany Furlan
Back at Neon Carnival, the guestlist has grown to over 7,000. This duo represents the evolving parity between actors (West) and self-made digital creators (Furlan).
Cameron Houston, DJ Ruckus, Brent Bolthouse, and Jesse Marco
Neon Carnival founder Brent Bolthouse is also a photographer. We spotted him taking pics on what appeared to be a film camera during the night.Getty Images
Zedd played the festival in 2016, bringing out Kesha at the height of her legal drama with Dr. Luke. This year, he was back but just for the parties.Getty Images
The day after rocking the Sahara tent with Dillon Harris for their new single "Say Less", G-Eazy hit the stage at the DEW Label Motel in Palm Springs, a celebration of the launch of the Mtn Dew Label Series - new premium sodas with craft flavors and herbal and citrus bitters. The party was open to the public for fans of the DEW.Eric Reed/Invision for DEW/AP Images
Chari XCX (Right)
The "I Love It" songstress DJ'd at Pandora's Indio Invasion on Saturday afternoon.Pandora
Guests at the h.wood Group's Blind Dragon Pop Up got to hear "Congratulations" and "White Iverson" from the rapper who has been all over the desert this weekend.
Rachel Zoe's ZOEasis
At the stylist's beauty and fashion lounge, guests could make customizable engraved cuffs. There were also massages and an acoustic set by The Aces.
One last look at the Neon Carnival scene. The event takes four days to set-up for a bash that only lasts 6 hours. Batiste Dry Shampoo (which people used to freshen up) , Levi's (which made customized jean jackets), and Tequila Don Julio are the sponsorship partners.Getty Images
See the scene in and around Indio from TheWrap Party Report’s Mikey Glazer
Drake and French Montana
The two rappers hung out in the VIP bleachers at the Levi's and Don Julio Neon Carnival on Saturday night. They were joined by a lot of big names, like....
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