After 11 years at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport, where revelers ride ferris wheels and dance to DJs next to both an active runway and stars like Clint Eastwood, Usher and Lars Ulrich from Metallica, the iconic event will move to a new location in 2018, The Party Report has learned.
“It doesn’t mean Neon Carnival is going away,” creator Brent Bolthouse told TheWrap. “It just means we’re moving locations next year. It’s kind of bittersweet. [The airport] is a legendary joint for us.”
Bolthouse and partner Jeffrey Best (who have produced the party since inception, when the late DJ AM, Steve Aoki and Danny Masterson simultaneously spun from three different turntable setups surrounding the dance floor) will be looking for a new location in the desert.
They already started searching “a while ago,” Bolthouse said.
The guestlist, invite-only event is nearly three-times the size of the entire population of the host town of Thermal. Good thing there are lots of wide open spaces in the desert. For this year, Bolthouse promises a revised traffic flow and easier drop-offs and pickups for the thousands arriving in the dark after a day of music and other spirited activities during Coachella.
Two Weekends of Neon Carnival?
Because the physical production spans four days from load-in to load-out including importing full size ferris wheels, bumper cars, carnival games, food vendors and a giant dance floor under the stars — a new location could allow them to roll the carnival over to a second or even potentially third weekend.
That hypothetical template just so happens to coincide with the weekends where the most iconic American music festival and a country music festivals (Coachella and Stagecoach) take place a few miles west down the desert roads. All parties involved go out of their way to emphasize, correctly, that the event and the music festivals are not affiliated with each other in any way.
“Hopefully we’re going to find a location that we could maybe do it [more than once in the desert],” Bolthouse said. “I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but that could be an option.”
A Neon Carnival on back-to-back weekends presents an interesting thought experiment on how it would reorient the orbit of the marketing dollars and side parties thrown in the desert.
But back to this year.
The Return of Kayper
Since Kayper spun NC last year, she has had a higher stakes gig: spinning Bolthouse’s wedding.
“In the London, New York, L.A., Miami scene, I don’t know another DJ that throws it down like her,” Bolthouse said of the British producer and music personality.
“Kayper’s taking you on a journey. She’s like the reincarnation of DJ AM in my brain. He’s the only other guy that I ever saw that really did it that way. That’s giving her, obviously, lots of love.”
On background, Bolthouse and the late DJ AM were extremely close personally and professionally, referring to themselves as the sober Batman and Robin of L.A. nightlife. This co-sign has heft.
Along with Kayper — DJ Ruckus, Politik and Jesse Marco will return to spin for the 8,000 invited guests from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. Fun fact: They all have the same manager.
Old Friends are Back
Corporate partners continue to re-up for this event with the consistency and persistence that is more frequently seen with the naming rights to tennis tournaments and college football bowl games.
This year, Levi’s returns as a lead sponsor, along with tequila Don Julio.
In a neat bit of synergy, three of the aforementioned DJs (Ruckus, Politik and Jesse Marco) are brand ambassadors for the top shelf pour, and will be showing off TJD’s new magnums.
Lokai, who made the bracelets given out in advance last year, will return as a sponsor for 2017.
For Bolthouse, who has been busy expanding the Bungalow lounge brand from Santa Monica to Huntington Beach and beyond, he’s already been fielding phone calls from business partners in their 50s, inquiring on access for their kids. It’s an institution, with two federally registered trademarks.
Warning: This party is a “don’t invite yourself, we’ll invite you” guestlist. Joyce Sevilla, Rembrandt Flores and EFG handle a slice of the celebrity attendees and media.
For everyone else, good luck.
Please send additional event info, bookings, and invites to TheWrap’s Party Report columnist Mikey Glazer here.