By Megan Wadding
There is no place quite like The Dinah, a five-day weekend specifically for lesbians, held each year in Palm Springs, California.
The weekend-long bash is filled with pool parties, poolside shows, a comedy show, go-go dancers, themed night parties and more.
The festivities this year, which ran from March 28 through April 2, were headlined by Snow tha Product and Jessie Reyez, and in the past has attracted big-name stars such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Chaka Khan, and more.
This year’s Dinah weekend was one of the largest since the five day-long event first was held back in 1990, attracting an estimated 20,000 women from all over the globe every year, and figures this year were up from 15% from just last year, according to Hanson.
”The Dinah 2018 was one of our best. Attendance was up, the vibe was amazing, and the entertainment was stellar,” said Mariah Hanson, executive producer of The Dinah.
Parties throughout the weekend included Dinah staple events such as the Thank God It’s Dinah Friday pool party, the Friday night 50 Shades of Pink dance party, Saturday’s The L Word pool party, Saturday night events including the Dinah comedy show and the Hollywood party, and the Sunday Funday pool party.
“We’ve completely changed the look of both [night] parties,” said Mariah Hanson, founder and producer of The Dinah. “I love the new look we have created for all the parties. I was really excited to see the reaction.”
Hanson said the noticeable changes included a new location for the night parties in a different ballroom at the Palm Springs Convention Center and the addition of a larger stage with a “huge wow factor in presentation”, as well as new decking near the pool which added more space for attendees to dance and hang out with their friends while enjoying the poolside concerts.
“The pool parties were amazing,” said Hanson. “It was our largest Friday and Saturday pool party in a few years. [We also] broke attendance numbers on Thursday.”
With the new changes and improvements this year, including new venues, new production designs and more, it was also arguably one of the best Dinah weekends in recent years.
“We’ve all received amazing feedback about this year,” said Hanson. “Our attendees love the direction we have taken, mixing celebration with women empowerment. It’s become this incredibly feel-good weekend. It was always fun. Now we are fun and inspiring!”
With an amazing host city like Palm Springs, filled with great restaurants, beautiful weather and incredible venues, Palm Springs was always the perfect fit for what has become a sort of rite of passage for lesbians around the world.
“Weather, diversity, tolerance and a sense that life is to be lived to the fullest [make Palm Springs] a great city,” said Hanson.
Hanson has always had a remarkable ability to single out the next up-and-comer and have them perform at The Dinah. This year, Hanson predicted that rapper Snow Tha Product would be the new “it” girl.
“I believe this is the last time people will see this artist in a more intimate venue as she is going to blow up in 2018,” said Hanson. “She started off the Friday pool party with a bang and the vibe swept through the rest of the weekend.”
Hanson said headliner Jessie Reyez’s concert at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday night was specifically was a huge hit, calling the show one of the highlights of her career.
“[Both Jessie Reyez and Snow Tha Product] are my picks for the next big thing in music, but all of our headliners have great back stories and they represent powerful women with inspiring messages that are creating music on their own terms,” said Hanson.
Hanson said her favorite moment of the weekend was on Saturday night when she had a chat with Jessie Reyez after her concert.[“We had] a really amazing talk,” said Hanson. “[I gave her] a little advice about how powerful her message was and that she should always stay true to her purpose. She’s a powerful young voice in the world for women empowerment and visibility. I was absolutely honored to host her concert.”
Saturday night’s comedy show starring Dana Goldberg and Suzanne Westenhoefer was packed and the laughter did not stop throughout the acts.
“[They are] two of the greatest lesbian comics on the circuit today,” said Hanson. “Having them both on the same stage is [always a] guaranteed laugh-a-thon.”
The Dinah attracts women from all over the world, and many fly down from Seattle to attend.
“We love our Seattle attendees,” said Hanson. “They have the most chill, tolerant and accepting vibe and fit in perfectly with the messaging we are about. I have no idea how many [come from the Pacific Northwest], but I know we’d like more.”
Hanson said she enjoys the entire weekend of events, but that a few moments always stand out.
“Every year I have a moment of two when I look at at this cast sea of women and see the smiles, the sense of felicity, stress-free joy of just being alive and feeling connected to other like-minded women,” she said. “We see how much it means to people and what a life preserver it can be.” Hanson said she wants the Dinah to continue to produce a “relevant, inspiring and life-changing event” for women and she hopes that each year, women leave Palm Springs having had the time of their lives.
“We create an inclusive world at The Dinah and we encourage our guests to take that home with them and live it, be it, every day of their lives. Truly what makes the Dinah magical is the sense of unity that is created when all of these women from so many different backgrounds come together and celebrate their lives,” said Hanson. “It’s powerful, inspiring and life changing.”
Hanson said the large attendance this year spoke to the “amazing longevity” of the event, and compared it to the Energizer Bunny.
“We just keep on going,” Hanson said.