Coachella Is For Quitters

One weekend at Coachella with Jones showed me that quitting can be a good thing.


To quote the great American singer-songwriter Lizzie Grant, better known as Lana Del Rey, “I was at Coachella.” And for the first time ever, she and I were there together.

For two 72-hour periods, Indio, nicknamed the “City Of Festivals,” swells from its typical 89,000 residents to over double. The dusty expanse of Southern California desert is transformed annually into a throbbing, pulsating tableau of bodies, beats, and the brazen. A hyper-reality where the sun burns ideals onto the retinas of the youthful, the influential, and the restless. And where an estimated $475 million is generated for the greater Coachella Valley.

Festival-goers, like me, become at home in temporary structures. We embrace the ephemeral. We quit, yes, we quit. We quit our jobs, at least temporarily. We quit our inhibitions, certainly. We quit our routine, our predictability. Our phones quit having signal. Quitting is often laced with connotations of failure, but here it’s different.

This year, Coachella was also a backdrop for something a bit new—quitting smoking with a little help from Jones nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) mints. It’s here that I discovered how quitting isn't always a concession to failure but rather a stepping stone into the new. It’s an opportunity to make and welcome change.

Jones designs their products to tackle both the mental and physical challenges of quitting smoking. Even in the overwhelming, hedonistic desert, quitting suddenly didn’t feel so hard. It was approachable. Over the weekend, as I conquered the roaring desert field, I realized that to quit is not to fail; it is to arrive anew.


Here’s what they don’t tell you about having a guest pass at Coachella: you’ll end up walking on incredibly unsexy, poorly lit back roads as you make your way from stage to stage. It took us a while (a couple of sets) to realize that we were better off walking through the masses than continuing on the luxurious but isolated journey. The “Artist Compound” is a highly regulated, smoke-free environment. Lucky for me, a 2mg Jones mint is equal to one cigarette, so whenever the urge struck, I had my mints ready.


When Lana Del Rey took the stage at Coachella, the air was thick with anticipation. As we heard the roar of her motorcycle brigade, a collective gasp of adoration swept across the desert air. Her ethereal voice, the haunting melodies, her beauty — god, her beauty…

But the deeper we dived into her set, the more I realized that some experiences, some nuances, are lost in the sheer scale of massive events. What was supposed to be a dream come true was more of a reminder that not all magical moments can survive the transition from the personal to the public.


We were the last people to exit Coachella. Trust me, this wasn’t my choice. But as the saying goes, “No Man Left Behind.” Since it was already half past midnight by the time we found our missing party, we decided to take our chance on a back road shortcut to find a little slot where an Uber could pick us up. The night was warm. There was no music or fanfare here—just us and the road.

Eventually, we realized we had strayed pretty far from where we intended to be. What started as a clever idea had turned into quite a detour. We had to backtrack a lot, retracing our steps under the starry sky until we finally made it back to the entrance.


For $15 a head, you can do the 2nd most fun thing at Coachella—ride the Ferris wheel. (The first, for those wondering, is seeing Ice Spice.) Despite a very convincing negotiation led by my friend Tristan, four of us were still stuck paying a $60 fee. So up we went on the Ferris wheel at Coachella, high above the throng of the festival, the scene unfolding below like some modern bacchanalia. Our vice of choice? Hot dogs.

We munched in sync, the hot dog strangely grounding amidst our lofty ride. From our vantage point, the festival was a study in excess and endeavor, each person a tiny player in a vast, glittering spectacle. The Ferris wheel gave us a momentary respite, a chance to disconnect from the curated feeds and crafted images, returning instead to something unpretentiously authentic.

As we neared the end of our three-to-five-minute ride (they don’t guarantee the number of minutes), Tyler, The Creator’s bass reclaimed its dominance, pulling us back into the fold. We stepped off, the taste of the cheese cup lingering.


By the third day, the thrill was gone. My feet had swelled to a new shoe size, my back hurt, and the desert dust turned my mucus into tar. My dopamine receptors were tired from working overtime. The relentless sun, the endless walking—it all felt like a battle against discomfort. After letting go of almost every possible thing, there was only one thing left to feel better: I had to quit Coachella. So we did just that.

We piled into the car, two dogs and three humans, waved goodbye to one desert abyss and arrived at the next. In Palm Springs, the hot sun seemed gentler, or perhaps it was just the absence of a crowd, less sweltering bodies rubbing against me. The air was cooler, or maybe just emptier. The pool was cold enough to reduce my body’s inflammation, or at the very least, cool enough for me to think so.

I oscillated between whether this counted as quitting or if quitting quitting negates itself. But this wasn't about quitting in the face of adversity; it was about choosing where to direct my energy, about recognizing when the cost of staying outweighs the potential gains. In the quiet lull of a Palm Springs afternoon, the decision to leave the chaos behind felt less like an escape and more like a strategic realignment of priorities. In any case, I knew there was one thing I’d never have to quit again, and I melted poolside along with the mints under my tongue.

More Articles: