“I slipped a knuckle bone into Coachella,” Nate Auerbach said Friday, standing outside the Coachella VIP Rose Garden amid hordes of revelers in sparkly dresses. “Most people sneak in…other things.”
Auerbach — a partner at Versus Creative, a marketing company that handles social content for Coachella among other Goldenvoice events — was set to host a Seder, the traditional Jewish meal for the first night of Passover, at Outstanding in the Field, the $275 per person dinner series that takes place nightly in the VIP section of the festival. He secured a ticket-buying partnership with dinner organizers, worked out a grant with a Jewish organization to offset some of the costs, made a flyer advertising a $75 Seder in the VIP area, and sold dozens. popup tickets for the dinner, which was cooked by chefs Diego Hernandez and Donnie Masterson.
Danny Elfman’s manager, Laura Engel, and her family were among those who bought tickets: her daughter Rachel sent the flyer to the family’s text message chain with the text: “Are we doing that ? Her other daughter, Hannah, responded as only a seasoned Coachella vet would: “I say yes: but it’s so difficult because the schedules are not overrun.”
This awkward timing unfolded as attendees took breaks during dinner to see the surprise Arcade Fire show on the nearby Mojave stage between bites of their meals. Unlike a traditional Seder – with a very specific set menu and a long reading from the Haggadah, the story of Moses’ journey from Egypt to Israel – this one was much more casual, with a non-kosher menu that had been established long before Auerbach’s Partnership, a 4-page read-it-yourself Haggadah handed out to guests and a quick candlelighting and prayer amid much chatter.
Evan Winiker, managing partner at Range Music, gave his trademark hugs during the first course of smoked marlin pate with avocado hummus before returning to the field to grab his client Cordae’s set. Red Light’s Jason Colton and his family stopped by as sharing plates of bluefin tuna were handed out to say hello to old friends. Rapper Kosha Dillz walked through Moses’ entire outfit to eat matzah before rushing out for his own pop-up Passover service, Matzachella. Engel’s husband, musician Jimmie Wood, stood up at one point and sang an impromptu version of the traditional Passover song “Let My People Go.”
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“There are a lot of people who sacrifice their Passover to be here,” Auerbach said. “They’re not looking for the food or the strict ceremony or anything else – they’re looking for that family dinner vibe. They can get together [with friends and strangers] and being a family on the first night of Coachella — which is also the first night of Passover.
Auerbach wasn’t the only Jewish attendee seeking that connection: Dillz’s Matzachella event is an offshoot of his Shabbat services in the pop-up parking lot at past Coachellas, and chefs Eric Greenspan and Burt Bakman actually cook a Seder dinner more traditional multi-course dinner at Outstanding in the Field on Sunday (“We thought Kanye was doing Sunday service, so we would be doing Sunday Seder,” Greenspan said. “I guess he was shaken up.”) And he There were plenty of passers-by who didn’t even know the event was who, when they saw the only traditional Seder plate that Auerbach had displayed in recognition of the tradition, mentioned how proud their parents would be that the Passover takes place in the field.
At the end of the day, however, dinner was all about connection — that’s exactly what actress and musician Idalia Valles and her partner Jessie Sachs, who lead mindfulness exercises at Coachella for the application of Open meditation, have discovered.
“We made friends with people [at the dinner] that we’re going to hit when we get home,” Valles said. “They can move into the house in front of us – they can be our neighbors!”