Dinah Shore Weekend Invades Palm Springs

Bay Area Reporter

Thursday March 28, 2013

Dinah Shore Weekend just keeps getting sweeter.

Now simply known as The Dinah, the annual huge party is set to give women what they have come to expect, with amazing shows by emerging artists, the best female comedians, celesbians, and its signature pool parties and white party.

Mariah Hanson, founder and producer of Club Skirts's The Dinah, is kicking the event up another notch. This year an estimated 20,000 women from around the world will descend on Palm Springs for five days and nights of fun in the sun, partying all night and much more at the 23rd Club Skirts's The Dinah, April 3 to 7.

Heating up the desert at this year's Dinah is chart-topping Karmin, who is the headlining at the Monte Carlo party on April 6. The pop duo will be joined throughout the week by emerging pop sensations Anjulie, Havana Brown, K.Rose, Katy Tiz and Kat Graham, along with much loved artists Diana King and Uh Huh Her.

Lesbian comedians Fortune Feimster, Jackie Loeb, Jacqueline Monahan and Suzanne Westenhoefer will have the women laughing hard April 4 at the annual comedy show.

Guests will also get star sightings with the The Real L Word stars Lauren Bedford Russell and her girlfriend and fellow castmate rocker Kiyomi McCloskey (of Hunter Valentine, BARtab's January cover feature).

"The Dinah is now not only an event celebrating the tapestry of women around the world, but also stands as a seminal mecca for lesbians," said Hanson. But the weekend has become more than a gathering of lesbians. Once known as the lesbian spring break, Dinah is evolving into an international women's festival featuring emerging musical and artistic talent celebrating women, gay and straight, from around the world.

The late Dinah Shore was a popular big band era entertainer and 1970s TV personality who was also an avid golfer. Little did she know that her desire to uplift women's professional golf by hosting the Ladies Professional Golf Association in Palm Springs in 1972 would become a magnet for lesbians on and off the green. House parties emerged and eventually grew into an out loud and proud lesbian festival.

Hanson, who ran San Francisco's popular lesbian club the Girl Spot (better known as the G-Spot at the End Up), wasn't alone in creating the Dinah Shore Weekend. She teamed up with Robin Gans and Sandy Sachs of Los Angele's Girl Bar fame for 15 years before the lesbian nightlife powerhouses split in 2006.

The split gave Hanson the freedom to take the Dinah to the level that she envisioned. Taking a gamble, the 25-year veteran party promoter booked emerging artists just as they were about to soar up the charts. Before making it big, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Natasha Bedingfield and others performed before thousands of queer women and their friends at The Dinah.

"If you are producing the largest lesbian event in the world, you better make it so fantastic that nothing comes close to it," Hanson told reporters on Jan. 10. "For the first time we are on top of the curve. We are helping to make those kinds of decisions that are launching artists [careers]."

This year, the party moved to the center of Palm Springs and the host hotels are all within a block or two of each other. The doors will be thrown open for a huge block party. Partygoers will be able to move easily in and out of the pool parties for the first time.

That is only one of the firsts for this year's Dinah. This year there will also be a celebrity poker game, new indie rock pool party and a mini lesbian film festival.

All proceeds from the poker game, where guests will buy in to play with their favorite celesbians, will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign. HRC is a sponsor of the Dinah and will host a special soiree during the poker game.

Another first is that guests will also receive the new Palm Springs VIP Card, an exclusive VIP Rewards program where guests who check into the host hotels will be able to enjoy special discounts at participating attractions, restaurants, spas and shops. Hanson partnered up with the Palm Springs Convention Center, the Greaters Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism to produce the card.

"It's become the perfect city to throw this event," said Hanson about the pride that Palm Springs takes in hosting The Dinah. "We are welcome here. We're not only welcome; we are wanted."

Copyright Bay Area Reporter. For more articles from San Francisco's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.ebar.com