Thousands of half-naked hedonists will flock to the Californian desert this year for a mind-bending bout of music, dancing and hysteria—and no, we’re not talking about Burning Man. For the 21st consecutive year, The Dinah takes over Palm Springs, Calif. from March 30 to April 3 for five days of parties, concerts, celebrity meet ‘n greets, sexy contests and mingling with the multitude of lusty lesbians.
Considered the biggest lesbian event in the world, The Dinah raises the bar when it comes to featuring top-notch entertainers, celebrity appearances and deluxe accommodations. Major corporate sponsors, including Miller, Bacardi, MTV/Logo Network and more have lent their support to the lesbian community.
“The 21st Dinah is special because we’ve come of age. Twenty-one years is a long time to successfully accumulate event production experience, but we’re at the peak of our youth!” says Mariah Hanson, founder and producer of The Dinah. “The event feels just as fresh and exciting as it ever has—if not more so.”
The Dinah experience begins at the event’s primary host hotel, the Riviera Resort and Spa (1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr., 760-327-8311, psrivi era.com)—a lavish desert oasis with midcentury design and modern flair.
Four hundred-and-six guest rooms and suites are decorated with a nod to an atomic-age style. Sensually soft bedding, marble-clad baths and spectacular views of the surrounding gardens and mountains offer state-of-the-art luxury. All of the expected amenities—flat-screen TVs, in-room coffee and tea, free Wi-Fi, room service and much more—are at guests’ fingertips. Outside, while away the night in a private poolside cabana.
A girl is bound to get hungry (and thirsty) in the desert. Circa59, the Riviera’s signature restaurant, serves locally-grown produce and sustainable meats. The Starlite Lounge in the resort’s mezzanine lobby serves classic cocktails in a fifties-style setting, while the Bikini Bar and Deep End pool bars offer casual outdoor dining.
Reservations for the Riviera Resort and Spa are going fast—but if you waited until the last minute, consider a stay at The Dinah’s second host hotel, the Hilton Palm Springs (400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, 760-320-6868, hilton. com). The contemporary property, decorated with muted earth tones to mimic the desert palette, offers spacious guest rooms with the ultimate in affordable luxury. Each room or suite features a private outdoor balcony, an extra-cushy king or two double beds with layer upon layer of pillowy linens, a flat-screen TV and workspace (not that you’ll be doing much work at The Dinah).
Drink in Palm Springs’ charms at the Terrace Restaurant’s outdoor patio or at Harvey’s bar, just off the main lobby. The expansive central pool is ringed with inviting lounge chairs and stately palms.
Kicking off the weekend’s festivities, comediennes Paula Poundstone, Suzanne Westenhoefer and newcomer Fortune Feimster headline the Dinah’s comedy showcase on opening night. Every night at the Dinah concludes with a monster party at either Zelda’s Nightclub (611 S. Palm Canyon Dr., 760-325-2375, newzeldasnightclub.com) or the Palm Springs Convention Center (277 N. Avenida Caballeros, 760-778-4100, palmspringscc.com).
The Dinah’s just-announced music headliners are Grammy-nominated recording artist Natasha Bedingfield and rising stars Dev and the Cataracs. Both acts will be supported by the “Freshman Class of 2011,” a hand-picked group of artists about to break out of the pack.
British singer and songwriter Natasha Bedingfield is known for international radio hits like “Pocket Full of Sunshine,” “Love Like This” and “Unwritten,” which entered the charts at number one and became the first number-one pop single by a British solo artist in almost 20 years. Her meteoric success netted Bedingfield a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her new album, “Strip Me,” is already attracting plenty of attention. She’s also performed on the wildly popular TV show “America’s Got Talent,” and is known for donating generous amounts of time and money to charitable organizations.
Dev and the Cataracs have been working together ever since the Cataracs discovered Dev’s Amy Winehouse cover on MySpace. They are known for their Far East Movement collaboration, “Like A G6,” which reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks, and has sold over three million downloads in the U.S. Later, Dev and the Cataracs created “Bass Down Low;” its music video has reached over a million views on YouTube and is a staple on MTV. Even though Dev’s debut album isn’t scheduled to come out until April, they’ve reached double platinum status already.
Out country singer Chely Wright will sign copies of her autobiography Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer and perform an intimate concert for her lesbian fans at the Riviera.
If one aspect of The Dinah’s accomplishments stands out, it’s Hanson’s ability to pinpoint the Next Big Things before they’re famous. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, the Pussycat Dolls and Ke$ha are just a few of the recording artists who performed here before the topping the charts.
“The burning question on everybody’s lips: who is the next best thing in music to break through at The Dinah?” Hanson poses. “We went all out with our entertainment bill, so expect another huge year! We have the one breakout artist, plus several solid contenders for musical greatness. Our acts are part of the next generation of rising artists.”
This year, Hanson is turning The Dinah’s legendary pool parties into a spectacular series of concerts by up-and-coming acts. The famous three-day aquatic affairs at the Riviera will host Hanson’s “Freshman Class of Dinah 2011,” including the stunning girl group Beach Girl5 (a.k.a. BG5), whose infectious club track “Scratch” netted them slots opening for Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Global phenom Luciana, whose anthem “I Like That” earned more than four million YouTube hits and went double platinum in Australia, will grace the Riviera’s patio.
British singer/actress Natalia Kills is also earning straight A’s in this year’s class. Kills stars in her own web series “Love, Kills xx” and slays audiences with her dark pop anthems, with help from the producers of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and t.A.T.u. Twenty-one-year-old singer/rapper Auburn will perform her first single, the infectious “La La La,” and soon-to-be-hits from her debut album on her own indie label. With the release of her debut single, “Shut the Front Door (Got My Girls),” dancer/musician Tiffany Dunn represents a rare breed of entertainer: one who does it all.
There’s more to the Dinah than music: “The Battle Of The Lesbian Web Series” is back by popular demand for 2011. Hosted by One More Lesbian (OML), the highly anticipated battle will pit 12 hit series together in a lighthearted competition of wit, grit and much hilarity. Sirius/XM Radio host Doria Biddle and veteran comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer are your emcees, with special appearance by Crystal Chappell, star and producer of the popular Venice web series. Additional celesbians attending include Jill Bennett, Cathy deBuono, Nicole Pacent, Natalia Garcia and more.
D.E.B.S. director Angela Robinson’s Girltrash! Pool Party makes its exclusive debut at The Dinah with a special live performance by alt-rock band Killola. Robinson—the creator, writer and producer of the pulpy web series Girltrash!—and director Alex Kondracke will host a meet n’ greet with some of the series’ actors, including Clementine Ford, Gabrielle Christian, Mandy Musgrave, Michelle Lombardo and Killola singer Lisa Rieffel.
In addition, L Word actor Laurel Holloman (a.k.a. Tina) will host an exhibit of her abstract paintings and sign posters for eager collectors. The Real L Word stars Whitney Mixter and Rose Garcia will bravely auction themselves off for dates with lucky winners.
The Dinah’s Mission
Hanson, who was on the board of Equality California for six years, is quick to point out that The Dinah is a political and social statement. This year, The Dinah hosts an exclusive pool party sponsored by Love is Louder, a campaign founded by actress Brittany Snow, MTV and the Jed Foundation to combat harassment, bullying and suicide among youth.
“I am very proud of our activist endeavors over the past 21 years. The Dinah is not just a party. It’s a subtle platform for the kind of activism that encourages people to act in ways that make a difference on issues that not only affect our community but the world. You have to stand up to stand out,” Hanson says.
Hanson, and The Dinah’s legions of fans, are looking forward to another successful weekend this spring. “It’s amazing to produce an event that makes women so happy. I am literally bathing in a sea of grins,” Hanson beams. “I love my job!”