When POPSUGAR Play/Ground kicked off on the morning of Friday, June 2, Los Angeles was cloaked in gray clouds — strange weather for sunny California. That didn’t seem to bother the attendees lining up early, eager to get a first peek at their “perfect day off” — an event that included tough but gratifying workouts, luxurious self-care moments, talks with celebrities including Cody Rigsby and Chlöe, and much, much more.
Located at The Row in downtown LA — a trendy “creative hub” flanked by wide thoroughfares and lofty buildings that house independent retailers, restaurants, and events — Play/Ground returned in a slightly different venue than in years past. Previously held in New York City in 2018 and 2019, Play/Ground’s 2023 iteration didn’t disappoint.
Bright and early, many of the first attendees were there so as not to miss Rigsby, a Peloton fan favorite who headlined a morning kickoff conversation with POPSUGAR Executive Editor Jada Gomez. The duo — Gomez decked out in a coral-pink short suit and Rigsby in a geometric blue top — certainly brightened up the still-cloudy venue. They chatted about Rigsby’s hard relaunch with ex Andrés Alfonso, his favorite Peloton instructor to take workouts from, and more.
Rigsby’s main takeaway for anyone trying to maintain their mental health? “A perfect day off is always deserved,” he told the crowd.
After the simultaneously hilarious and inspiring conversation — Rigsby shared funny stories, replete with lots of expletives, alongside earnest nuggets of wisdom — it was off to the races for attendees. But where to start? Some folks headed to workouts with The Sculpt Society, sponsored by Ninja Blast, which one participant would later say were “not a joke”; others had nail appointments at the event’s Zen Zone. And there were, of course, plenty of other activations, activities, and indulgent goodies to explore.
You could tell the crowd was really there to have their perfect day off. Some folks were dressed to the nines in their coolest light-wash denim and bomber jackets; others were sporting black leggings and workout bra tops (likely gearing up for more workouts from POPSUGAR fitness instructors Kaleila Jordan and Raneir Pollard). Play/Ground, everyone realized, was a bit like their favorite summer camp: everyone had decided to come as they were, ready to take part in the things that really spoke to them.
While there were lines for make-your-own Lush bath bombs and ear-seeding (an acupressure technique), attendees didn’t seem too concerned about waiting. That wasn’t the ethos of the event, after all. Rather, people seemed genuinely relaxed and excited and just happy. “I can’t wait to do everything here,” one attendee told his friend, who nodded in agreement.
People streamed in and out of the Hub, the main Play/Ground thoroughfare with LA-based food, drinks, craft stations (like shibori tie-dye and collage with Forager Crafts), and more. Some guests stood in line to get their hair subtly accented with Lucky Locks sparkles, while others wanted to get their tarot cards read from Graham Breitenstein of Drunk Astrology. One attendee sipped on a smoothie made with the viral Ninja blender, closing her eyes as she savored the orange, pineapple, and mango-y goodness. “So yummy,” she said to herself.
At the Hydrow station, Paralympian Dani Hansen was teaching folks how to use the at-home rowing machine, which offers live and prerecorded workouts — filmed on real bodies of water. Hansen had recently traveled to Japan to film workouts with other trainers, which she said was amazing, but she seemed excited to be in LA. “I’m originally from Northern California and moved to Boston, so it’s awesome to be back,” she said, before chatting about her hopes for the 2024 Paralympics in Paris, her training routine, and how she prioritizes mental wellness.
Wellness is what people were prioritizing at the Zen Zone, a whole other section of Play/Ground. Signs at the entrance of an outdoor-indoor spa area encouraged attendees to use “soft voices please,” and guests were handed cool lavender towels when they walked inside. This instantly set the mood for all that was happening: some folks were receiving IV drips full of replenishing vitamins, while others were getting graphic, colorful nail designs from M.A.D. specialty artists. Right outside, facialists helped people relax even more with express spa treatments as they reclined on plush lounge chairs.
In a separate outdoor pop-up in the shade, Reiki healers spoke softly to a group seated in a circle, where people had taken part in a collective sound bath earlier on. The breeze lent a relaxed, chilled-out vibe to the whole event, as folks intently listened in to the healer.
By midday, the sun was shining, washing everyone in golden light — an unexpected but welcome warmth. That’s where the refresh stations came in: they offered attendees all the spray-on deodorant, dry shampoo, and facial mist they could want. “I forgot to put deodorant on before I came, so this is perfect,” one person said, laughing, as she sprayed some on.
At the Beauty Bar presented by Revlon, pampering soon turned into primping. Makeup artists milled about the large room as attendees got personalized makeovers, with covetable products lining the walls. There were All About Eyes booths, brow bars, and DIY lip stations. “Are you having fun?” one makeup artist asked a woman who was getting her brows done. “Um, yes!” came the easy, enthusiastic reply.
All that self-care eventually got people hungry, too. Friends, new and old, sat around in the sun, munching on LA favorites: hummus and falafel from B’ivrit; crispy, wood-fired pizza from URBN; and ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus. Larger groups converged as people walked around, chatting about the various activities they’d already done. And that’s where the summer-camp feel came back in.
That vibe continued all afternoon, as people checked out the activities they’d missed in the morning. Eventually, iced coffees and sparkling waters turned into hard kombuchas and spiked seltzers, and people soaked up the late afternoon sun, the breeze, and the vibes.
And finally, like any good day off ends, there was lots of sweetness — both literally and figuratively. For a social hour hosted by SweeTARTS, a crowd gathered in front of the stage to listen to DJ Amrit spin her beats. People were dancing and laughing with friends, and anticipation was growing: multihyphenate Chlöe was set to take the stage afterward for an unplugged performance and conversation.
Then, the stunning Chlöe took the stage, wowing in a navy bodysuit and leather cape getup. After an intimate three-song set, she spoke with POPSUGAR Breaking News Associate Director Kelsey Garcia about her debut solo album, “In Pieces”; how she supports her sister, Halle Bailey, in big and small ways; and what she’s learned from her mentor, Beyoncé.
The star concluded the entire event with the perfect sentiment. Just as every Play/Ground attendee had crafted their own perfect day off in downtown LA, Chlöe reminded the group to keep that approach up in their own lives: “Don’t compare your journey to anybody else’s,” she said. “We all have to give ourselves grace.”
Oh — and what would Chlöe’s perfect day off look like? “It would be lots of food, being by the beach, swimming in the water, and getting a nice massage,” she said, smiling wistfully. We agree. Even if Play/Ground looked a little different (the beach was about a 40-minute drive away), everyone had found their happy. As the crowd celebrated the last rays of sunlight, dancing and chatting with new friends, it was obvious: everyone’s ideal looks a little different — but we all deserve our perfect day off.
Image Source: Harp Digital Media