Above: Venus and the Moon kicked off the ‘Berniechella’ performances on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Coachella, Calif. (Image: Paulina Rojas/ Coachella Unincorporated)
By: Paulina Rojas
COACHELLA, Calif. — On Thursday night, the normally quiet streets of Old Town Coachella buzzed with energy during the Bernie Sanders for President Block Party, also known as Berniechella.
The block party featured art, live music, DJ sets, food and a beer garden.
Hundreds of people, young and old, made their way to the event Thursday night. Many of the Sanders supporters were from the Coachella Valley, but a few people, like Rick Massias, traveled from areas outside the desert to come and celebrate the presidential candidate.
“I am a big, big Bernie supporter. It’s Bernie or no one for me,” said Rick Massias, who drove more than an hour from Corona to be at the event. “Friends of ours told us about the event and were like, “Okay, we have to go.’”
Massias also said that blending music with politics is a good way of getting young people involved.
“It’s so important, especially for the young people. To be able to fuse music with politics is essential, especially for Bernie because his message reaches all boundaries,” he said.
Even though Sanders did not make an appearance at the event, he was still very present through the crowds of Bernie t-shirts, stickers and a life-sized cutout of the man himself.
For many of the younger concert-goers, the event provided a space for them to get involved and meet others like-minded Sanders supporters.
“I am in college and I don’t think a lot of people really care [about the elections]. But if there were more events like this, people would be like, “Yeah, let’s go out,” said Kristen Soto, a College of the Desert student and Indio resident.
Local elected city officials were also at the event Thursday night, including Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (56th).
For event organizers, there was no doubt that Coachella was the perfect place to host the event.
“It made perfect sense that something for Bernie be in the City of Coachella, in the eastern part of the valley,” said Tizoc De Aztlan, ‘Berniechella’ organizer.
“Politics is all about people, people coming together,” Aztlan said. “Being in an environment like this, I hope, encourages people to let their guard down more and be open to discourse, and if it takes really cool music and art to make that happen then so be it.”
About the author:
Paulina Rojas joined Coachella Uninc. as a beat reporter in February 2016 after working as a city reporter in the eastern Coachella Valley for more than a year. Although born and raised in New York City, Paulina feels right at home in the eastern Coachella Valley. She loves the warmth of the people and buying fresh bread from her favorite bakery in downtown Coachella. Paulina is a graduate of the University of Houston, and her work has appeared in The Las Vegas Review – Journal, The Houston Chronicle, HelloGiggles and Vivala. View her author page here.