Since 1991, women from across the world have flocked to Palm Springs, California for the pool party, music extravaganza that is The Dinah Shore Weekend. The Dinah also happens to be the largest lesbian event in the world – and with performers like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Angel Haze, and more making appearances at the festival, its easy to see why. Celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community through amazing performances and events like the famous White Party, The Dinah is a rite of passage for many lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, and asexual women to come together in a space exclusively for them. Detailing the importance of The Dinah Shore Weekend, queer travel blogger Meg Cale (of Dopes on the Road) relays her own personal experience with this 5-day music festival.
Read her essay below, and if you’re interested in diving into The Dinah headfirst, you can purchase an exclusive package presented by DC queer community The Coven and Dopes on the Road. Valued at $2,000, this is a chance to bond with other LGBTQ+ women from across the country for some fun in the sun. Oh, and did we mention the awesome lineup for 2017? Kittens, Lady Cultura, CeCe Peniston, Black Box, Lizzo, and more are set to play the festival.
“As a queer woman and blogger, I’ve attended many events for queer women. I’m talking Pride festivals in 10 countries – a lot. There is just something about Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, California that just feels a bit different than the others.
If you’ve been hiding in the closet for the last twenty years, Dinah Shore is the world’s largest lesbian event. It’s kinda like a music festival broke out at a pool party in the desert. This year from March 30th to April 3rd – Palm Springs will turn into lesbian spring break.
Dinah’s already stellar reputation was further built on solid features in Showtime’s The L Word. The L Word had a major impact on the identity development of millions of millennial lesbians. Despite being canceled 7 years ago and having questionable plot lines, the show is still the center of many conversations in the lesbian world. It was from the L Word that I learned about this magical party in the desert where queer woman flocked about in tiny bikinis, I knew I had to go. My first Dinah was a few years back. I expected my first Dinah to be a complete shitshow of half naked drunk queer 20 somethings. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how much more than that Dinah really is. It’s no secret that lesbian bars around the country are shutting down. In 1975 there were eight lesbian bars in the Castro district of San Francisco, today there are none. There is an even more extreme lack of spaces for queer young people under 21 and those who do not drink. Despite the rapid decline in lesbian spaces, gay male bars are going strong.
There have been several articles circulating the internet discussing the “whys” surrounding the issue. There are lots of theories, everything from gentrification to more societal acceptance of LGBT people. But let’s be honest here, a lesbian bar is a business model that tries to target less than 5% of the population. Bars are also geographically limiting and aimed at a population that has higher rates of oppression based on multiple disadvantaged identities. 23% of lesbians live below the poverty line and the numbers are even higher when you break it down by race, ethnicity and gender expression.
With the rapid decline of spaces for queer women, Dinah is an opportunity. Dinah was started as a women’s golf tournament during the golden Hollywood era. At the time Palm Springs was basically a giant country club for wealthy starlites. Later, It became a gathering place for queer women who were attending the golf tournament and eventually The Dinah we know today was completely removed from golf all together. Palm Springs itself is still a famous getaway for LGBT folks and home to several LGBT retirement areas. Today, nearly 50% of the residents of Palm Springs identify as LGBT. Many of them are older couples using the community as a retirement nest or a city escape from their busy careers. The Dinah is one part chilling by the pool to the sound of DJ beats and two parts evening parties and concerts. Dinah’s founder Mariah Hanson has a knack for booking some of the biggest mainstream acts. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalea, Ke$ha, and Meghan Trainor have all done concerts at Dinah just as their star was rising. Mariah Hanson, Dinah’s founder has pushed the envelope for queer women’s events. Modern queer event promoters like Hanson, DJ Whitney Day, and Kate Ross are raising the bar for queer women’s parties and demanding higher quality.
Day is an international DJ and lesbian event producers known for her legendary parties in New York City. Day told VICE, “I wanted to throw well-produced parties with diverse female talents in top-notch venues—basically, events that are on par with what everyone else seems to have… We need great music, solid sound systems, and credible venues—not just to feel “safe.”
She has a point, when we lower the bar to just feeling safe at our own parties we’re selling ourselves short. Yes, safety is a necessity, but it should be a given. At a point in our history when our rights, our spaces, and our community are being striped from us – It’s more important than ever to appreciate and celebrate the spaces we have. Sure, Dinah CAN be a raging lesbian spring break, but it’s also an opportunity to meet new people, preserve our culture, and celebrate our community.
Which is why I decided to lead a group of 20 LezBiQueers to Dinah Shore this year with my friend and fellow queer community aficionado Kate Ross of DC’s The Coven.
I want to do my part to celebrate our existence and introduce other LezBiQueers to one of our cultural rights of passage.
I was blessed, to have my twenties be a blur that ended up looking like one giant Brooklyn queer scene party. I came of age at Whitney Day’s parties, attending P-Town Women’s Weekend, going to Dinah Shore and celebrating Pride across the globe. In my world, there has always been incredible queer spaces, but that’s not true for people who weren’t spoiled by the New York City queer community.
With everything going on in the last few months, I’m worried for our future, but I’m trying to be optimistic because I’ve seen the power of the queer community first hand. The eleven-year-old queer kid inside of me believes that our community is changing for the better and those changes will uphold the growing values of our culture. While revolution is hard fought, change can be beautiful.”