Splash House soaks the SoCal desert with DJs

It might be difficult to convince most Southern Californians that they need a summer vacation, spoiled as they are by the perennially perfect weather at home. For the music fans of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is an annual destination visited only during Coachella in April and never in the summer when daytime temps typically top off close to 110º. Still, those who saw the value in driving a few hours to “Hollywood’s desert playground” this past weekend (August 10-11) were rewarded by the experience of Splash House, a brand new multi-party mini festival at the Saguaro, Curve and Caliente Tropics hotels that featured a range of DJ talent including Eats Everything, Classixx, Miami Horror, Juan Maclean, Neon Indian, Poolside, Bag Raiders, Brazzabelle and more. Even though two of the three hotels sold out, it still felt under-attended, though it was a well-organized and well-curated event that felt as easy as the evening desert breeze.

While its Palm Springs location might have been an obstacle for some, it was also the selling point, not only for its quixotic setting but for its relaxed charm and relative affordability. The Saguaro Hotel acted as Splash House’s homebase, where you could pick up your tickets and get a 21+ wristband. A free shuttle ran constantly between the Saguaro and the Curve, about a mile away and just next door to the Caliente Tropics, defying expectations that inter-hotel transportation would be a hassle. If you wanted to see both Classixx and Bixel Boys whose sets happened to overlap, you could split your time and hop on the shuttle to go back and forth – with more ease than you can dash between stages at most festivals.

The weekend’s lineup, curated by LA nightlife promoters Private Label and LED along with Orange County event Pacific Festival, showcased a fine roster, though the programming strategy seemed a tad haphazard. Not that anyone noticed – in fact the biggest surprise of the weekend was how ancillary the DJs became to the event. Despite strong performances by up-and-comers Lee K, Charlie Tadman, Posso, Bones, and Anna Lunoe, there weren’t that many people in attendance to enjoy them. The better-attended moments, naturally, occurred later each day when the more marquee names were on the decks. But without a full dancefloor, everyone from Eats Everything to Juan Maclean played fairly subdued sets. At all three locations, the beach-chic crowds mostly split their time between swimming, sunning, and drinking while chatting and swaying (perhaps due to the heat full on dancing was rare, though it happened on occasion).

With free on-site transportation and relatively affordable drinks, not to mention the bountiful complimentary cans of Perrier, there were no mirages about Splash House being a desert music bacchanal for stylish Angelenos in-the-know. It would be great if more people had been there to enjoy the festivities… but not to worry, those crowds were waiting for everyone back at home.

Photo: Jamie Kowal