Greetings, gays. Chances are, you’ve heard of a little lesbian paradise known as The Dinah. But do you know the history of The Dinah? Do you know how absolutely HUGE this year will be? If you’re a baby dyke like me, your knowledge probably doesn’t really go beyond “The L Word” characters road-tripping up there, sharing their coming out stories and eating Burger King. Then there are, of course, the hot lesbian pool parties they attend, which lead up to one of my personal favorite quotes from the series, uttered by Tonya (perhaps the only “L Word” character more crazy than my beloved Jenny): “I can’t believe I’m about to go down on Dana Fairbanks.”
But there’s so much more to The Dinah than going down on Dana Fairbanks, and so much that makes it worthy of its international fame. The incredible events and performances slated for this year’s lineup should have you booking your ticket right now, if you haven’t already. So how did this iconic queer women’s event come about? It’s important to know your herstory, babes. Imagine living in New York and not knowing the significance behind The Stonewall Inn? Blasphemy! So put on your sexy schoolgirl outfit and open up your textbooks to page 69. Lez learn.
Mariah Hanson is the mastermind behind the world-famous, ultimate women’s weekend: The Dinah. She began her career in lesbian nightlife in 1988 when she debuted Club Skirts, a Sunday night dance party for San Francisco Bay-area women. She expanded to a Saturday dance club, The Girl Spot, which was open for 15 years. Once she got a taste of lezzie nightlife, she understandably wanted to keep it going, but on a larger scale. Thus, The Dinah was born.
This year, The Dinah’s lineup slays. Kiran Gandhi, known by her stage name Madame Gandhi, is joining the ridiculously impressive entertainment lineup for 2018. You might remember her as the badass feminist who free-bled during the 2015 London Marathon. But now’s your time to get to know her as an electronic music mega-babe who writes and performs music that celebrates the female voice. Hanson is putting together one of the most diverse lineups celebrating strong women who have broken their respective glass ceilings in songwriting, comedy, filmmaking, DJ-ing and other creative disciplines. The Dinah will be packed with many other powerhouse women in the lineup. We’ll go back to that soon. But what about the name?
The Dinah was named after Dinah Shore, a singer, TV personality and golfer. She founded the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle, a golf tournament and (shocker!) major magnet for lesbian athletes and their fans. Because, hello, gay women tend to love sports! California dykes majorly digged the golf event, as large circles of lesbians could get together and you know… play golf. That’s how Dinah Shore become a tongue-and-cheek lesbian identifier. The Dinah currently coincides with the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Anyway, enough about golf. Let’s get to the good stuff. The Dinah attracts thousands of women from all over the world, including Australia, Russia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, China, South Africa, Belgium and Spain. It’s basically become International Queer Babe Central. The Dinah has garnered the corporate support of Miller Beer, MTV, Logo, Sirius Radio, O.B. tampons and Bacardi, among others.
The first Dinah was held in 1991 at the Palm Springs Modern Art Museum. (I wonder if that’s where Bette and Tina met?) The Dinah’s website describes the event as “sold out, packing every room of the museum, where partygoers drank martinis while surrounded by tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art.” Lesbians, vodka and art — sexy, no? Hanson, swag lez that she is, booked entire hotels so they were 100 percent lesbian-occupied, brought in national sponsors, sizzlin’ performers and made sure that all events were within walking distance. Her goal was to “create a lesbian world within a city.” This concept has made The Dinah one of the biggest and most famous lesbian events in the world.
Incredible music is undeniably The Dinah’s trademark. As we’ve said before — and we’ll say it again! — Hanson’s astounding formula for finding the world’s most artistic DJs and gifted performers on the cusp of fame is a unique combination of instinct, research and steadfast pursuit of the best talent for her audience. Hanson truly (and famously) possesses an eagle eye for up-and-coming star power (Fun lesbian fact: Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, among other songstress luminaries, both graced The Dinah’s stages not too long before they started selling out arenas!). It’s something we like to call “The Dinah Secret Sauce.” And it’s extraordinary.
To balance out all the hot and sweaty dancing, two of the most acclaimed lesbian stand-up comics, Suzanne Westenhoefer and Dana Goldberg, will be headlining The Dinah Comedy Night on Saturday, March 31 at The Palm Springs Convention Center. Hanson has all the attendees covered for laughs, beats and entertainment.
Our community around the world has recognized Hanson’s immense efforts to create the lesbian utopia of our dreams. She received the coveted key to Palm Springs City, presented by out Mayor Ron Oden in 1998. What a gay moment! Hanson has appeared in GO’s “100 Women We Love” and the “Out 100,” and has received an impressive list of awards, including an Achievement Award with Lily Tomlin by NCLR in 2015.
For so many queer women, The Dinah represents something defining: either an annual tradition, a bucket list goal, or what seems like a faraway fantasy. This year, The Dinah celebrates its 28th anniversary and continues to shine as a haven for sisterhood, sex, social connection, soul connection — and, of course, getting drunk by the pool with friends.
In addition to its party mission, The Dinah remains committed to amplifying queer women’s voices. The Dinah is working with some of the top LGBTQ players in arts and entertainment to heighten women’s visibility in film, TV and other media. Outfest, Tello, and Revry will have high presence at The Dinah this year, through a series of events including meet and greets, podcasts and performances. All three institutions will host booths throughout the duration of The Dinah. Outfest will also present a star-studded cocktail reception Saturday night of The Dinah, which will feature some of their famed female filmmakers and other talent.
“Throughout my 30-year career, whether as a club promoter or as the producer of the one of the world’s largest internationally-renowned women’s events, I have supported film in its many incantations as often as I can,” says Hanson. “Our diverse and poignant stories must be told. Allowing the world an inside view of our beautiful and often challenging LGBTQ lives is one of the best ways we can break barriers, create equality and live in a more tolerant and compassionate world. Our stories connect us through our shared humanity and in a sense, celebrate what binds us rather than what divides us.”
The Dinah is also bringing in rising star Jessie Reyez. You might know Reyez from her gut-wrenching, powerhouse song, “Gatekeepers,” which recently took the internet by storm in the wake of #MeToo, or her debut EP, “Kiddo,” which was championed by Sir Elton John on Beats 1 Radio. Her album boasts more than 20 million streams. Joining the stellar entertainment roster is the irreverent, talented, sexy Brooke Candy, an American rapper, vocalist and internet personality. Her cult following is obsessed with her outlandish style, provocative videos and no-nonsense delivery, as well as her cameo appearance in Grimes’ hit single “Genesis.”
Dream lineup! If that doesn’t make you book your ticket, I don’t know what will. Perhaps the promise of thousands of bikini-clad lesbians looking to mingle, dance and party? “During this gigantic world-famous festival, we meld our differences into a collective consciousness that for five days defines our world as a diverse and inclusive place where we all can be who we are, as we are. We know our attendees feel that magic and bring that experience home with them,” Hanson says.
With all the partying and mingling you’ll be doing, you’ll need somewhere chic to rest your head. Hotels to stay at this year include official Dinah host properties: The Courtyard Marriott, Hyatt Palm Springs, Renaissance Palm Springs, Palm Mountain Resort and The Hilton Hotel and Spa.
We at GO are practically bursting at the seams with excitement for this year’s Dinah. Come say ‘Hi’ to the GO girls at our poolside booth! What’s better than booze, babes, beats and bikinis? That was a rhetorical question.
For more info on The Dinah, please visit thedinah.com