By Megan Wadding, April 2019 Issue.
Club Skirts presents The Dinah. The annual music festival and pool party weekend — aka the largest lesbian event worldwide — is about to take over Palm Springs.
The festival includes various performances by nationally-renowned recording artists, massive 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 — also known as “celesbians.”
Now celebrating its 29th year, the star-studded weekend will kick off a five-day party held at various locations throughout Palm Springs, including the two host hotels, the Hilton Hotel & Spa and the Hyatt Palm Springs.
The weekend that has become an oasis in the desert for women from around the world is filled with events such as the Black and White Ball and the Dinah Comedy show on Friday, April 5, The L Word Pool Party and the Hollywood Party and on Saturday, April 6, a comedy show, celebrity meet-and-greets, and poolside games.
About those aforementioned celesbians, Mariah Hanson, the event’s founder and producer says those expected to appear this year range from actors and reality TV stars to filmmakers and screenwriters.
For the first time, the Friday night party, The Black and White Ball, is being held at the Hyatt Regency, on April 5.
Hanson tells us that the party will take over the entire first floor of the hotel, including the lobby, atrium, bar and pool area, with second-floor balconies overlooking the stage below, where Leikeli47 will be performing.
“The Hyatt is located smack dab in the heart of downtown, two blocks from The Hilton where our pool parties take place during the day, so the location is perfect. We’re really happy to offer this stunning top-scale hotel to our guests,” said Hanson.
The weekend’s pool parties will take place at the Hilton Hotel & Spa’s main pool during the day, and the Hyatt Palm Springs at night. The opening and closing parties will both be held at Zelda’s Nightclub, a fun hotspot to both kick-start and close the weekend.
“It’s going to be spectacular,” Hanson added.
The musical performances this year are amazing as always. Musical powerhouse, Daya, will be headlining the weekend with her performance on Saturday night. The Grammy Award-winning pop sensation, who best known for her smash collaboration with The Chainsmokers, “Don’t Let Me Down”, will be taking the stage at the Hollywood Party, on April 6.
“Daya headlines with a proven track record as a stellar performer with five platinum releases,” said Hanson, who is excited about the show.
Throughout the festival, attendees can also expect performances by hip-hop sensations Diiamon’d Royalty and Kodie Shane, musician and producer Leikeli47 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.
“My pick for the next big thing is Kiana Lede, who performs on Sunday at our pool party, but we also have so many other artists that are poised to break out in 2019.”
Hanson added that she believes Kiana Lede is “going to be huge.”
When asked her secret for finding talent just before they hit the big-time, Hanson said, “Let’s just say I employ an intuitive and scientific approach. How can one go wrong?”
While in previous years, the Dinah events centered mostly on pool parties, the Dinah of the past decade has flawlessly amped up the pool parties and water games, while also simultaneously becoming quite a popular music festival by drawing in huge superstar artists over recent years, such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Chaka Khan, Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, Eve, Salt ‘N Pepa and more, many of them while they were just on the cusp of hitting the big-time.
“We’ve been redirecting the focus to equally celebrate emerging artists [over] the last 10 years now, and I think after a lot of work and some great picks for headliners that took off into stratospheric heights, we are considered a worthy festival stop for most emerging artists,” explained Hanson.
Hanson said the musical performances and the “sea of really really really happy faces” are always her favorite parts of the weekend.
Lots of laughs
The Dinah Comedy Show will be held on Friday, April 5. and Fortune Feimster and Chaunte Wayans will co-host together for the first time. Also set to make appearances are Big Brother winner Kaycee Clark, popular tattoo artist TouShai and Bad Girls Club actress Kat Florek.
Feimster, a stand-up comedian, writer, and actor, first rose to fame when she guest-starred on E!’s Chelsea Lately, before becoming a series regular on NBC’s Champions, among other projects. She now headlines comedy clubs around the country.
“Fortune Feimster is about to really take off,” predicted Hanson. “She’s an incredible comic with a heart of gold.”
Wayans is also a comedian, writer, and actress, who has toured nationally and has multiple television and film credits to her name.
Hanson added that with the addition of Wayans as co-host, this is a “dream show” for her.
“Wayans is another cutting edge and very funny comic who is about to take off,” said Hanson. “I would not miss the comedy this year, no matter what reason you come to The Dinah.”
“This Dinah looks like it will be one of our better ones. We’re getting a very positive response to the talent announcements, and its reputation just builds on itself,” Hanson said.
According to Hanson, women come from all over the country and from across the globe to attend, with about 45% of attendees coming in from outside the state of California.
“It’s amazing to get so many women from all parts of the country together to celebrate our lives and community together. Our differences just fade away,” said Hanson.
According to Hanson, many of the women come over from Arizona to attend the weekend.
“Arizona Is a great state and the gals that come from Arizona know how to have a good ol’ Dinah time,” said Hanson. “It’s so easy to get here, which helps.”
Oasis in the desert
Palm Springs was specifically chosen by Hanson 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 an event such as this.
“Mostly it is a perfect place for The Dinah because of the weather, but the city itself loves the event and is very supportive of the LGBTQIA community, and that always helps,” said Hanson, who added that it really means a lot to be able to feel comfortable walking about town, holding hands and feeling welcomed and appreciated, while attending the event.
Unity and community
The aspect of the weekend Hanson said she is most excited for is everyone coming together to celebrate together.
“I’m excited for another year of this incredible unity and community that we create during the five days together at The Dinah,” said Hanson. “It’s a connection with the best of who we are, in a celebratory environment. People leave The Dinah feeling so inspired and rejuvenated.”
“The Dinah is an experience that belies all the assumptions about it. It’s an inspiring celebration of our lives, iced with an incredible musical format that you will not find anywhere else at an event this size,” said Hanson. “I pull out all the stops to create a safe, welcoming space for women. You often hear how it’s about drinking or wild parties, but it’s just so much more than that.“
Grammy Award-winning pop music sensation, Daya, will headline the concert being held on Saturday, April 6 at the Hyatt Palm Springs. She spoke to Echo about her upcoming show at The Dinah, what inspires her, how she reacted when she first heard about the Dinah and what to expect from her energy-infused show.
Echo: What do you have planned for your show at The Dinah?
Daya: It’s gonna be the gayest show I’ve ever put on. I’ll be playing a mix of old and some new music.
Echo: Have you ever been to the Dinah before? Are you excited? What have you heard about the event?
Daya: I haven’t, no. I actually first heard of Dinah Shore from my band last year. I think my guitarist’s girlfriend was there at the time when we were on tour. Once I realized it’s just a massive gay girl party, I freaked out! I’m so excited to be there and celebrate with my LGBTQ sisters and get crazy!
Echo: Have you ever performed at any other lesbian events?
Daya: I’ve performed at many different Prides, but never an event designated strictly for queer girls. As a bisexual girl who’s constantly trying to build my community of other queer girls, it’s really exciting and inspiring to be involved with something that champions a community like Dinah does.
Echo: Will you be attending any of the other Dinah events over the weekend?
Daya: I hope so! I don’t know how I could come and not have the full Dinah Shore experience!
Echo: What inspires you musically?
Daya: Authenticity and genre-bending. I’m inspired by artists who live their truths and find ways to incorporate their own sounds into existing music spaces.
Echo: What do you do to get prepared for a show?
Daya: I just pretend that it’s my first time playing these songs to an audience and go out there as excited and energetic as I would be if it were.
Echo: Are you working on any new projects that you’d like to mention? Should we expect any new music soon?
Daya: I have lots of new things in the works. So much has been brewing for the past two years. I’m really proud of how I’ve grown as a writer and artist and excited for the rest of the world to see/hear that progress. Stay tuned!
Echo: What are you most looking forward to about The Dinah? We’re excited to see you!
Daya: I can’t wait to see my west coast family again, it’s been so long since I’ve played a show out here. Especially my Arizona fans ‘cause I know they can get crazy!