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Girls Gone Wild

Girls Gone Wild

The Dinah began as a little getaway for party-hearty lesbians. Twenty years later it’s a major stop on the festival circuit.

Originally published in the April 2010 issue ofThe Advocate.

Back in 1991, at the dawn of the New York magazine?dubbed era of ?Lesbian Chic,? the promoters of the modern Dinah Shore weekend laid the foundation for the world?s premiere sapphic bash. Based in Palm Springs, Calif., the first Dinah weekend coa?lesced around a few scattered private parties held during an LPGA tournament that singer Dinah Shore founded in the early 1970s. The tournament had attracted lesbian golf enthusiasts for years, and about 1,000 women attended that first weekend.

Now in its 20th year, the event has morphed into a megaparty that has little to do with 9-irons. Instead, the five-day event, which runs from March 31 to April 4 this year, is packed with dance parties and comedy shows that brim with A-list musicians, celesbians, and tens of thousands of girls.

Showtime?s lesbian series The L Word helped elevate The Dinah in 2004 when it featured the girls partying at the event. ?In the ensuing years the Dinah has become much bigger,? L Word creator Ilene Chaiken says. ?Now it?s much more well known in the culture at large.?

Originally a single event, Dinah Shore weekend has become two rival ones. Mariah Hanson and her cofounders, Robin Gans and Sandy Sachs, went their separate ways in 2006, splitting the party into two?Club Skirts? ?Dinah Shore Weekend, run by Hanson, and Girl Bar?s Dinah Shore Week, run by Gans and Sachs. Hanson refuses to discuss the split, while Gans will only say the women went in ?different direc?tions.? Some women party at both events, but the Girl Bar event caters to international attendees, while Club Skirts has earned a reputation as a platform for emerging pop stars.

?This is our five days of living out loud,? says Hanson, who?s booked chart-topper Ke$ha and Rosie O?Donnell for events. Last year?s schedule included Lady Gaga. ?The music industry looks at Club Skirts as an important festival to be at. They are seeing lesbians astrendsetters. Before it was always gay boys.?

The Girl Bar party has its own slate of performers, including singer Kelis and comedian Jennifer Coolidge. ?The Dinah Shore weekend has become a rite of passage for every young lesbian,? Gans says.

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