Dinah Shore Weekend: Five Days in Lesbianland

Traditionally, Spring Break is a joyous time when students across the planet migrate to warmer climates to cut loose and party.

For lesbians, it is a time when we hear the calling from the West to come to mecca – a lesbian party mecca known as the Dinah Shore Weekend. Born out of house parties that dotted the Palm Springs area a couple decades ago to coincide with the annual Dinah Shore LPGA golf event, the weekend has since morphed into a slough of events spanning five days, this year running from March 31-April 4, in the Southern California desert.

“We own Palm Springs for five days,” said Mariah Hanson, the organizer of the Club Skirts portion of the event billed as “The Dinah.” “What better way to celebrate our out lives.” (Full disclosure: Several of the Club Skirts events are sponsored by Logo, which owns this Web site.)

“Palm Springs is probably one of the most beautiful towns in the world,” said Robin Gans. She notes, “The city itself is 40 percent gay,” a figure backed up by the city’s mayor. Gans and her business partner Sandy Sachs organize the roster of Girl Bar events billed as Dinah Shore Week.

The trio of women -- Hansen, Gans and Sachs -- once worked together but now organize separate events. But this year they're all celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dinah Shore events in Palm Springs.

Among the jam-packed litany of parties and activities, Gans always looks forward to the White Party, a Friday night mainstay of the weekend. “I love the White Party. We always make it snow on the dance floor... And nobody is hung over yet," she laughs. "It's a beautiful event and we really get to meet a lot of women.”

This year, Hanson is especially excited about Sunday's NOH8 pool party, with the creators of the NOH8 Campaign. Photographer Adam Bouska will be snapping photos of anyone who wants to add their face to the movement which began after California's approval of Proposition 8 in 2008. (Make sure to pack a white T-shirt for a photo.)

While the Dinah Shore weekend of events has existed for decades, when Showtime's hit show “The L Word” filmed an episode there, it pushed the weekend into notoriety.

“ ‘The L Word’ helped put this weekend on the map,” said Gans “We kind of jumped on that.”

“I’m all in favor of any excuse for tens of thousands of gay women to get together and have a good time,” “L Word” creator Ilene Chaiken told Curve Magazine after filming there.

The entertainment for the weekend promises to be phenomenal. Big name celesbians, music icons and comedians fill the slate of names for both Club Skirts and Girl Bar events.

"What’s really incredible about the Club Skirts events is that the entertainers feel that a lovefest is going on," said Hanson. "They are putting on concerts for my clientele that they are not putting on regularly. The energy level is eons above what they do on their regular tour."

This year Club Skirts coup was booking Salt 'n' Pepa with DJ Spinderella. The trio hasn't performed together for at least nine years, Hanson said. Other stars of the Club Skirts event include Ke$ha, Sarah Shahi (Carmen from "L Word"), God-des and She (who coincidentally performed in the Carmen and Shane wedding fiasco episode), Suzanne Westenhoefer and Vicki Shaw among others.

The Girl Bar event is just as celebrity-packed featuring singers Kelly Rowland and Kelis, actress Jennifer Coolidge (think Stifler's mom from "American Pie"), and DJ Samantha Ronson.

Gans said ticket sales spiked after the Ronson announcement. "There are girls booking just because they want to see her," she said.

The thousands of women who flock to the event make it one of the largest gatherings of lesbians in the world, which is good business for the organizers.

"The strength of the weekend is really kind of recession proof," said Hanson. "I’m making an offer they can’t refuse."

And the combination of Southern California sun and spring break timing makes Dinah Shore weekend one event every lesbian must attend at least once.

"It's become a rite of passage," said Gans.

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