This year marks 10 whole years of arguably one of the most unique festivals in the United States. To celebrate its double-digit birthday (in true Leo fashion), Splash House is hosting not one but three weekends of splish-splash celebrations. The first weekend took place in June and August has brought a back-to-back weekend close-out, the first of which took place this past weekend. To commemorate the occasion, the weekend started off with a proclamation ceremony in which the Mayor of Palm Springs officially declared August 11th “Splash House Day.” Pretty cool, right? That’s point one of why this is in high contention for being one of the most unique festivals in this country. After all, how many festivals can say they have an official city-declared day?
The weekend festivities kicked off on Friday evening with a show at the Palm Springs Air Museum, which was an open-air venue that serves as – yes, you guessed it – a museum during normal operating hours. The stage was set up right in front of an old plane, which made for an incredibly cool backdrop against the lighting structures that created a perfectly symmetrical landscape if you found the right spot in the back of the crowd. Keyspan took opening duties and was followed by QRTR, who was grooving away on stage to an expanding crowd. Phantoms had their own fun on stage during their DJ set and ODESZA closed out the night with a heavy-hitting DJ set which was very different than what I had grown accustomed to after seeing their live show four or five times over the last year. It was clear from this pre-party that the weekend vibes were going to be high.
Saturday was off to a hot and sunny start but festival-goers were able to find reprieve from the heat in the pools – each stage was set up at the pool of an individual hotel – or in front of the plentiful misting fans. With the way the stages were scattered throughout Palm Springs, it is impossible to see everyone on the lineup while also enjoying the music, so I took it easy over the weekend and decided to select a few artists that I really wanted to see and otherwise go with the flow. That strategy worked very well for me on Saturday since I knew I wanted to check out each stage (hotel) and there weren’t many conflicts for artists I wanted to see. I started out at Renaissance, as that was where I was able to park, and then made a spur-of-the-moment on where to go next when I got to the start of the shuttle line.
I wound up at Margaritaville and that was definitely where the early party was starting with Cut Snake, whom I had never heard of prior to but was thoroughly impressed with. People were dancing anywhere there was space – on the stage, on the sliver of concrete between the stage and the pool, on top of shoulders within the pool, in the cabanas, and under whatever form of shade existed. There were floaties galore – and rightfully so – amongst the sea of swimsuit-clad partiers, many of whom were dressed in Barbie or Ken clothing because Barbiecore is honestly so integral to the festival scene. Veggi, who was another name I was unfamiliar with, was next on stage and brought two heads of broccoli with him to enjoy the view. Since I had yet to check out the final stage, I made my way over to Saguaro, which might have been the smallest space but it was so much easier to see balcony decorations and there were some fun ones, many of which capitalized on incorporated memes.
I was able to catch a good deal of JADED’s set and the UK duo certainly showed California how the other side of the folks across the pond get down. I stayed for some of Sam Divine before making my way back to Renaissance to enjoy the hypnotic sounds of Aluna as she sang into the setting sun. CID closed out the night at Renaissance and as great as it was to be able to see the full production of the stage with all of its lights, it was even better to finally feel like it was cool enough out to dance.
Sunday was a big day of conflicts for me and even though I had a game plan going into the day, I ended up scrapping most of it in the name of just letting myself enjoy the music and my surroundings rather than worrying about going back and forth between the venues. The clouds were very present during the first few hours, which provided some relief from the sun as I caught the tail end of Miss Dre and the beginning of Jaden Thompson at Renaissance. It began to rain shortly after I got to Saguaro during Tini Gessler’s set and even though I originally intended to stay for DJ Minx, I decided to hop on a shuttle after the sprinkles – and I’m glad I did because the shuttle line was already getting long – to catch some of Lucati at Margaritaville. The sun and heat returned by the time I got there so the pool was somehow even more packed than it was the day before. Disco Lines was a must-see artist for me, so I found myself back at Renaissance just in time for a rainbow to give way to a brilliant sunset that kicked off an amazing Vintage Culture set. While I am very sad that I wasn’t able to split the closing set times between the three hotels – LP Giobbi and Wax Motif both would have also been excellent choices and it would have been nice to see the nighttime production on the other two stages – I’m so glad I got to hear Vintage Culture drop “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” by ABBA in such an electrifying crowd.
I know I say this a lot, especially when it comes to house and techno festivals, but I truly feel like there is no better dance community. I talked to so many people for varying lengths of time and everyone was so nice and considerate. I even ran into some people who I had met at other festivals, including someone I met at a festival in Los Cabos, Mexico, so I think that shows just how tight-knit the community is. Whenever I told people that I came into town from Missouri to photograph the event, they were all so shocked but I told them that I had heard only good things about Splash House and wanted to take the opportunity to attend it. And I’m really glad I did because it truly was such a memorable and unique weekend that I’ll be thinking about for some time.