Celebrating thirty years of The Dinah

By Megan Wadding, April 2020 Issue.

The largest lesbian event in the world is once again about to take over Palm Springs, filling the desert with over 20,000 women ready to have fun in the sun.

Club Skirts presents The Dinah, the annual music festival and pool party weekend. Follow thedinah.com for event dates.

The five-day-long event is held annually and includes various performances by nationally-renowned recording artists, shows by iconic comedians, wild pool parties with world-famous DJs and go-go dancers, red carpet events with celebrity guests and musicians, and meet-and-greets with lesbian celebrities.

The parties and shows will be held at various locations throughout Palm Springs. The weekend’s pool parties will take place at the Hilton Hotel & Spa’s main pool during the day, the concerts and night events will be at the Palm Springs Convention Center and the opening and closing parties will both be held at AsiaSF — Palm Springs most fabulous new supper club — to both kickstart and close the weekend.

Fun-filled weekend

The Dinah weekend has become a rite of passage within the lesbian community since it was first held back in 1991 in the Palm Springs Modern Art Museum. It has grown and evolved into what has become an oasis in the desert for women from around the world.

The biggest events of the weekend include a Dinah Comedy Night , a Black and White Ball, The L Word Pool Party, and the Dinah Comedy Show.

The line-up for the weekend is full of talented, diverse women ready to have attendees partying into the night.

Musical hot-spot

Over the past three decades, as well as being known as an enormous party for lesbians, the Dinah has also grown into a globally-recognized music festival. Event founder Mariah Hanson is famous for picking the next big thing in music. Year after year Hanson has tapped the most promising up-and-coming talent that have gone on to become world-renowned performers and recording artists.

While in its earlier years, the Dinah events centered more on its pool parties, the Dinah of the past decade has focused more on not only making the pool parties and comedy shows even more amazing and extravagant, but also on by drawing in huge superstar artists such as Lizzo, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Chaka Khan, Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, and Salt ‘N Pepa, most of them while they were just on the cusp of hitting it big.

Hanson has done it again with the musical performances this year, which all promise to be amazing. Headlining the Friday night Black and White Ball is rapper Saweetie who has been exploding onto the scene with her recent singles “ICY GIRL” and “My Type.”

Ally Brooke, breakout star of the multi-platinum group Fifth Harmony, will headline the Saturday night Hollywood Party. Brooke is preparing to release her debut solo album this year.

Throughout the festival, attendees can also expect performances from Layton Greene, Lion Babe, Madison Paige, Umi, Yung Baby Tate, and several world-renowned DJs, taking various stages, some poolside.

As always, Hanson picks incredible line-ups for the weekend, including a knack for finding the next hot performer to hit the airwaves.

“The line-up this year as about as exciting as it gets,” said Hanson. “The representation is diverse, empowering, exciting and ever so talented. I would not miss one performance this year.”

What’s new?

For the first time in 30 years, The Dinah is officially collaborating with the Ladies Professional Golf Association, which is holding the ANA Inspiration tournament the same weekend.

The Dinah Shore Weekend began as a gathering of women who trekked to Palm Springs for the annual women’s golf tournament and has grown into the largest gathering of queer women in the world.

“[The cocktail reception will feature] three players currently playing in the tournament which is really exciting,” said Hanson. “What a way to showcase women in sports, women in excellence and women as role models.

The three players, including Mel Reid, Cheyenne Knight and Alena Sharp, will be making a special appearance, meeting with Dinah attendees and hosting the cocktail party in collaboration with Showtime.

Reduced prices will also be offered to Dinah customers who also want to attend the golf tournament.

Lots of laughs

The Dinah Comedy Night will be held on Thursday night and will feature the hilarious and brilliant Dinah veteran comediennes, Gina Yashere, Dana Goldberg, and Dinah Leffert.

On Saturday night, for the first time ever, the Dinah is holding An Intimate Evening with the Legendary John Waters, the iconic filmmaker, photographer and comedian. The special performance will include a Dinah-specific show, and a 20 minute Q&A afterwards. A meet-and-greet and an autograph-signing event are included with the Dinah VIP weekend pass.

“I’m happy to be the comic relief in a sea of partying, ‘all-girl’ music festival fans. Thanks to The Dinah, I will finally be a true outsider!” said Waters, who proudly calls himself a “lezbro.”

Hanson said she had caught wind that Waters dedicated about ten minutes to The Dinah in his one-man show in 2017 in Palm Springs, and immediately though how great it would be to have him perform at The Dinah.

“I loved the idea of showcasing a man at The Dinah, especially one who has done so much for our community to further equality and to normalize those of us who in the past may have felt on the fringe. So I contacted him, and he loved the idea. I’m excited to include him in our 30thanniversary programming,” said Hanson. “So many women bring male friends and while we retain about 98% female attendance, if someone who has transitioned or is a male ally wants to attend, we welcome them. As such, it’s also a message of tolerance and acceptance.”

Attendance — and Arizona girls

Thousands of women from all over the globe flock to the desert for The Dinah each April, and many make the short road trips from surrounding states, easily making it the largest lesbian event in the world. Arizona women always make a big showing each year, happily making the drive or short flight to join the festivities.

“We have so many women who attend from Arizona as it’s so easy to get here,” said Hanson. “Our Arizonians know how to “bring it.”

This year, Hanson said the attendance is about 10% bigger than last year.

“So many women want to celebrate our milestone year and are proud to have been a part of creating one of the longest-standing musical festivals in the nation,” said Hanson.

Many fortunate attendees have so much fun during the weekend that they come back for more. And the even more fortunate and faithful attendees attend multiple years in a row.

Hanson attributes it to the friendships and connections made during the weekend.

“I find our customers experience profound connection during the weekend — to other women, to higher ideals of community, to each other — and this becomes life-changing as if you can do it here, at The Dinah, why can’t you do this everywhere?” said Hanson. “The event serves as a reminder that what we bring to every situation is also what we receive.”

Thirty years of Dinah

What started off as a weekend for women back in the 90’s has become a globally-recognized event, that has evolved and grown and morphed into the iconic weekend it is today.

Palm Springs was specifically chosen by Hanson back in the early 1990s as the perfect city to host The Dinah. The city, which is known for its beautiful, warm weather, gorgeous mountains, palm-lined streets, and welcoming attitude, makes for an ideal place to hold the event, which is full of sun-bathing, dancing, floating in the pool and more.

Hanson calls the “welcoming vibe” of the city the “perfect backdrop” for the Dinah.

Looking back over the past three decades, Hanson admitted that she would not change a thing.

“I love how the event has morphed into such a powerful statement of empowerment for women. I never imagined it would be quite this spectacular, but I am so pleased with what it has become, what it stands for and what it will continue to evolve into,” she said.

Producing the Dinah year after year and turning it into a famous lesbian rite of passage has been a beautiful journey for Hanson and she fully grasps what it means to the attendees.

“It’s been a personal journey of transformation for me,” she said. “I take responsibility for this event and what it means to the community personally and am dedicated to being the best steward I can be. That means always changing and evolving to present the best, most empowering event for women possible, which means I have to be the best, most empowering producer possible.

Along with the Dinah continuing be an iconic and fun annual party for women, as well as music lesbian festival — that is always brilliantly and strategically ahead of the curve in terms of talent-booking —  Hanson said she also wants it to be an event that continues to unite women.

“I want it to be a place where we can share our stories and experience the beautiful bond of strength when we share our humanity with others through our storytelling. Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here? Those three questions asked all weekend long will create a profound catalyst for personal change if we really listen to the answers,” said Hanson.

No special event marking the anniversary will be held during the weekend, because Hanson believes that the event is the special event in and of itself.

“The event is a celebration; the 30th is just a number,” she said. “What we do every year in our coming together is a celebration of the best within us and of us, as we show year after year that the most diverse people can come together and create a community that shares a strong bond of womanhood, of higher ideas, of the importance of being heard.”

Looking toward the future and into the next decade of Dinah, Hanson predicts that the event will continue to become an “incredibly powerful catalyst for female empowerment and celebration”.

According to Hanson, she believes that core of The Dinah will always remain true to itself and continue to grow and evolve with the years.

“The core of The Dinah shall always remain the same: a dedication through musical performances and a gathering of like-minded women to celebrate our lives, empowering, supporting, connecting, in a joyous celebration of our lives for a powerful five days,” Hanson added. “We are excited to have everyone with us to celebrate out 30th and plan a five-day extravaganza that will outdo any Dinah produced before. I am one blessed woman being able to produce this event.”

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