Lez in the Dez: Club Skirts the Dinah Brings 20,000 to Palm Springs
The flash of cameras light up the rhinestones on my vintage Studio 54 T-shirt as I skirt the edge of the red carpet at the Palm Springs Convention Center (PSCC). It’s Saturday night at the world’s biggest women’s party, Club Skirts The Dinah, and I’m about to have a personal meet and greet with headliners, lesbian twins Tegan and Sara.
The ballroom is packed with women dressed in wild outfits for the Black Party -- the main event in a week chock full of pool parties, concerts, comedy shows, and a new film festivals. Drinks are flowing, energy is high and the girls just wanna have fun.
Palm Springs, already a gay mecca in California’s Coachella Valley desert, is overflowing at the seams with the influx of 20,000 lesbians from across the country and around the world, who have converged here to let their hair down for a weekend of lesbian bacchanalia.
Let the Partying Begin
Women began arriving on Wednesday night, April 2, for this five-day event, now celebrating its 24th year. A welcome party at local nightclub Zeldaz gave early arrivals a chance to get the lay of the land, and a sunny Thursday morning allowed guests -- a surprising number of whom traveled from Canada and points north -- to get a jump start on their tan.
Although the bulk of the women here are from nearby Los Angeles, Long Beach and the Bay Area, women make the hejira from far flung locales around the world to attend what is now considered the Holy Grail of lesbian parties. The scrum around the poolside is like a United Nations of lesbians, with languages and accents mingling as these friendly women get to know one another.
Thursday night’s comedy showcase features the UK’s Gina Yashere, who has the audience in stitches with her comparisons of British and American racism, the latter’s overt kind being her preference. Sharing the bill are funny ladies Erin Foley and "Chelsea Lately" star Fortune Feimster. The hilarious Suzanne Westenhoefer emcees the event, which goes over like gangbusters.
Hitting the Dance Floor
To be certain, there are a lot of laughs, but in the end, these women are here to party and they hit the dance floor hard. At Friday night’s White Party, also held at the PSCC, headliner Iggy Azalea has guests bouncing like the ample bosoms of the go-go girls with her new hit, "Beat Down."
Their crisp white outfits only serve to show off the tans they’ve cultivated earlier in the day, poolside at the Hilton Hotel pool party. The scene there is hopping on Friday, as DJ Lisa Pittman spins records and the women dance and splash around. In the lobby, Romaine Patterson and guest Frank DeCaro host a special on-site episode of their popular Sirius Q program, OutQ.
Saturday’s "The L Word" pool party, with cast members Leisha Hailey and Kate Moennig -- plus Laurel Holloman signing her art prints by the pool -- draws even more women out for fun in the sun. Across town at the Saguaro Hotel, another group of revelers enjoy the Retro Pool Party, a more low-key event that allows for variety, that spice of life.
Dinah DJ’s pit their skills in The Battle of the DJ’s, a chop-shop contest that only allows the women 90 seconds to show their skills. Someone wins, but in the hatchet job of turn-now-flip-and-reverse-it, everyone sort of loses. No matter, the ladies are already gathering up their beach balls and heading back to their hotels to get ready for Saturday night’s Black Party.
Of course, Tegan & Sara rock the Palm Springs Convention Center, and as women file out of the show, dazed, many head straight for the tables for the celebrity poker event, to benefit HRC. Others step out to the patio for a breath of fresh air before returning to the ballroom to dance their asses off.
The Last Hurrah
After nearly a week of partying in the desert sun, women rise like zombies on Sunday morning, staggering to the Hilton Hotel pool for one last blast, and an early evening concert with "Same Love" singer Mary Lambert. We are happy to report that not only does Lambert have the voice of an angel, she also has the disposition of one, laying a big hug on journalists during a post-concert meet and greet.
As the sun set over the desert, the ladies pack up their things and head to the closing night party at Zeldaz Nightclub, where singer Thea Austin is performing. A hundred hours of non-stop lesbian bacchanalia under their belt, and these women are still ready to dance, almost as if to prove to the world that gay men do not have the market cornered when it comes to partying hard.
For more information on Club Skirts The Dinah, visit: http://thedinah.com. To plan your trip to Palm Springs, visit www.visitgaypalmsprings.com