“You look surprised!”
“It’s amazing to see all these girls!”
A couple of retired gay men sitting at the restaurant facing the Hilton were smiling discreetly, amused by the crowd of girls strolling about all around. They looked just like the two old men from the Muppets Show, but merrier.
Tall girls, short girls, butch girls, lipstick girls, neither of them, tattooed girls, girls with small breasts, huge breasts, middle-sized breasts. Some married, some not, African-Americans, Latinas, Caucasians, from all social backgrounds and of all ages.
Such an incredible diversity on every level – looks, ages and ethnies – that strikes you from the moment you step in this place.
Welcome to Dinah Shore, the biggest lesbian party in the world.
We met with Mona Elyafi, a press agent on the event for seven years.
“Lesbians are in majority but we also have a few gay guys and straight girls coming in. They usually come with their lesbian best friends to chill. There’s not much pressure here. Everybody’s free to do what they want and to be whoever they want. Everyone is very friendly and there’s nothing stressful or threatening about this place.
Girls come here to have fun and connect with each other. They come from all states and even from abroad. We also have many people from the Midwest, who sometimes have to stay in the closet all year and even have to dress a certain way that doesn’t necessarily represent who they really are. They come in here where they are free to be themselves. No one will judge you or criticize you here. Even if there are the usual labels like “butch” or “lipstick”, no one will ever tell you “since you’re dressing like this, you’re not a real lesbian.” It would be more like “since you’re here, you must be a lesbian.”
A girl in the hand is worth two in the bush.
You come into Dinah like entering a magical world that goes beyong the Hilton’s swimming pool and far across the entire city of Palm Springs. This little town lost in the desert is well known for its hot water sources, its golf clubs, its Native American reservation and its very gay population (pack your bags, boys!) and turns into Lesbian Central during those five days of the year.
“Last year, we were about 20,000.”
It’s amazing, you have to see it to believe it. It’s a must-do for all lesbians, a rite of passage.
Personally, my relation to the Dinah is quite special.
I was about to get back surgery and was unable to move, when my friends told me to “come to the Dinah” with them, so I could take my mind off my health issues. I didn’t know what it was. You know, growing up in Paris, France, back then – I’m 44 – being gay wasn’t per se a huge problem. But I was educated into Catholic values – not that I’d go to church every Sunday, but I had a quite conservative education. And actually, I didn’t really know whether I was gay or not. I’ve had some relationships with boys but something was always missing and I didn’t understand what it was. I’ve had a relation with a woman before I was taken to Dinah Shore, but I still wasn’t sure, I was still questioning myself a lot. I had many doubts and fears, like “will this be accepted and how will I tell it to my family? To society? How hard will it be?”
And then the girls brought me here.
When I saw all these women that looked so confident, when I saw how many they were, I told myself: “Alright, you’ll be okay. You’re not the only one.”
You have to experience the Dinah, even if you feel great about yourself, I guarantee that it’s something you’ve never seen before. »
You must go and fell the California sun, dive into the salted-water at the Pool Party, dance with one, two, three or ten girls at the same time. Drink Mojitos, wander in the streets and conclude the night at the White or Black Party. Because Dinah Shore also means very, very good music.
Music soothes the savage breast!
“What really launched the concept of music festival was the Pussycat Dolls concert in 2006.
In 2009 we had Lady Gaga and Katy Perry coming. Last year, it was Iggy Izalea.
Mariah Hanson, the woman behind Dinah, manages to bring in artists just when they’re about to explode. They come and sing at Dinah and a few months later, boom!
I hope this year it will be Ivy Levan, she sang on Wednesday night with Christina Perri, it was fantastic! She’s got a little something that’s reminds me off Vanessa Paradis, who is not actually my type of woman but, damn! She’s got incredible charisma and her music is really great. But if it’s true that Mariah does try to develop more and more the Dinah music festival, the majority of people still mainly come for the Pool Parties. However, the night concert do make a difference now.”
In any case, Dinah Shore isn’t just about lesbians in bikinis and good music. It’s about living these few days like you are a normal person with a normal sexuality – like you’re not part of some obscure minority facing discrimination every day. It’s about talking to hot girls if you feel like it, and pouring beer down a girl’s breasts before drinking it without someone calling in the anti-guy brigade to sermon you to “not reproduce masculine stereotypes”. You have the right to enjoy watching a female stripper and tip her one bill on her thong, to rub your girlfriend’s breasts when you’re dancing and intermingle your legs with your neighbor to tease her and have fun. Being lesbian isn’t about walking the straight line. We don’t share the same codes, the same issues, the same history, not even the same vision of the way the world works. Dinah is a journey into freedom of building and living your lesbian story.
Thank you Mariah Hanson.
The lioness’s golf.
And for the History-geeks, Mona tells you everything about the Dinah Shore’s beginnings.
“Maria Hanson created the event. She was a club promoter in San Francisco. She went on a golf tournament in Palm Springs with some friends. The tournament had been founded a while ago and was called the Dinah Shore tournament or something. When she noticed the pre-existing community of lesbians that came for the gold tournament, she thought “hey, let’s have a party!”
The first Dinah Shore was produced and promoted by Mariah. It happened only one night in the museum, which was I think the only location where they hadn’t been rejected. There was a bit of a mess that night and the museum never reiterated the permission to use their building again. There were so many people that one night turned into five, eventually. And now we have hotel partnerships for booking and sponsors.”
By Neole and DiXie
Translated from the French by IMNSX