April 11, 2019 at 11:11 am PDT | by Chrisanne Eastwood
Doing Dinah Shore

The scene at this year’s Dinah. (Photo courtesy Chrisanne Eastwood)

Dinah Shore Weekend, the annual Palm Springs lez/bi/queer/femme/butch/boi/etc. she-spree has long surpassed its humble four-dykes-in-a-camper-driving-cross-country-to-watch-some-LPGA-golf beginnings. It is now a multi-venue circuit of full-throttle, dripping wet girlie parties and head-banging concerts. The gals heading to the desert are pierced, tatted and primed to get seriously crunk with their crushes.  

And I think I might have finally outgrown it.

I tried hard. H, my GMB (gay male bestie), came with me because a. he had never been to Palm Springs and b. he still had no idea what lesbians do together. Plus he said he’d hold back my hair if he had to. 

The drive in from L.A. was long, slow and hot. “Like my men,” H quipped. Ugh. I blasted Nancy Sinatra singing “Sugar Town” because she and I are Twitter buddies and Palm Springs was definitely Papa Frank’s kinda town. I felt more ring-a-ding-ding than nose ring, but wanted to look hip for the kids. Thank goodness I packed my caftans from Ross Dress For Less. Brightly patterned polyester levels any playing field.

Because I wasn’t ready to get my freak on yet, our first stop was the Palm Springs Visitors Center. We needed a map to see how the old, glamorous other half lived and played. It was DEAD MOVIE STARS’ time!

In the golden age, Palm Springs was known as “Hollywood’s Playground,” an oasis from the heartless cruelty of Tinsel Town. Countless stars had desert hideaways where they could both rest and play, often while the spouse was back in Beverly minding the kiddies. Valleywood.

The area west of Palm Canyon Drive between Vista Chino and Alejo is a target rich environment for celebrity hovels. H was too busy with Grindr to be my navigator, so I both drove AND read the map and nearly coasted into Zsa Zsa Gabor’s backyard. Dahlink, vat a vunderful surprise!

We started with the queer-friendly folk: Dinah Shore, Liberace, Debbie Reynolds, Randolph Scott. Gorgeous one stories with crazy angles and lines. Like living in Legos. Then we slithered to Scandal. We teared up at the secret love nest of Spencer and Katharine Hepburn. We mourned at the house of Gable and Lombard, a great love cut short by tragedy. 

Gallows humor dominated our visit to Peter Lawford’s hide-a-hump — the spot where JFK first met and def hooked up with Marilyn Monroe. Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse were street mates (imagine those Key Parties)! We swiveled our hips at the honeymoon shangri-la of Elvis and Priscilla where I wowed German tourists with my Elvis impersonation! For our finale, we crossed Palm Canyon on Alejo and bowed to the original Frank Sinatra house, now on the National Register of Historic Places and available to rent! This lady was a tramp.

Next stop, The Dinah. I dumped H in the shopping district, put on my glitziest caftan, and and said, ‘lez go.”

Since 1991, The Dinah, billed as “the largest and most famous lesbian/queer girl party in the world” by its creator Mariah Hansen, has dominated the scene. With an emphasis on breaking new music artists, The Dinah 2019 teemed with dykes and queer girls, a few oldsters like me, and kick-ass performers. Rap and hip hop artists including Kodie Shane, Snow Tha Product, Bri Steves, Leikeli47, pop’s Dorian Electra and Grammy-winning headliner Daya wowed the young, grinding, lit and loving it crowds, both poolside and at the Palm Springs Convention center. The Dinah is still The King for the Queens.

But. It was a little loud for me. Just sayin.’ 

And I had no idea what they were saying/singing. 

But the beats were infectious. I bounced. I did. I bounced.

Fortune Feimster, the lesbian comic breakout star from “Chelsea Lately,” “The Mindy Project” and “Office Christmas Party” headlined The Dinah Comedy Night. Feimster killed with her southern coming-out tales as the totes mixed-aged crowd howled their approval. She said it was a “page out of my journal” kind of night. Made me want to read the whole damn thing.
The Dinah was not the only party in town for me to crash. Krave Spring Break, a hip-hop infused pool splash took over The Saguaro Hotel. DJs and dancers had the place vibrating day and night. Kittens, Carisma, Lazy Eye, Siya, Young Ezee and Knoxx worked the crowds. Channel Q radio boomed in the lobby. Vendors hawked T-shirts and sex toys. Poolside balconies flew Pride flags, Xmas lights, sponsorship banners. The water was filled with beach balls and dykes. There were many more big girls than at The Dinah, so I felt more at home with zaftig sisters. And get this: I even saw some — gasp — boys! We’ve come a long way, baby.
But I wanted to go where it all started: Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. Since 1972, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has held a professional golf tournament here. And, since 1972, fans of women’s golf, including a whole lot of lesbians, have been coming to watch it. 

Walking around the storied 18th green at Mission Hills, I saw dads instructing their daughters, men chuckling about “girls playing golf,” legions of family members silently cheering their golfing kin. 

But I was looking for dykes. My people. And, lordy, they were everywhere. I chatted up a group from Central Coast who told me that they weren’t even golfers! What? They just came to watch the tourney because it was “a lesbian thing to do.” They had tried a night at a “party hotel,” but moved the next day because it was “too much.” I got it.

Another boisterous bunch from Yuma, Ariz., said that watching this tourney was their yearly tradition. They, too, didn’t do the circuit scene, but were content to “do their own thing” and asked me for recommendations. I told them about Lucy and Gail, two desert dykes who produce “unique lesbian events” via yourwomenscircle.com, a lesbian-focused small business empowerment site. These broads also do a yearly jazz fest and host an awesome, old school dance party during Dinah Shore Weekend. This year’s was at Wang’s in the Desert (yes, I get the irony).  It was on my list.

Alas, alack, I missed Lucy and Gail’s Saturday night party because I was forced to sing at Stacey’s, a piano bar on Arenas, the gay bar ghetto of PS. It’s a burden to be so talented. 

I closed my Dinah Shore Weekend experience with some shopping at Revivals, the Desert AIDS Project’s thrift store. Revivals is incredible and so worth the drive if you are into mid-century mod furniture and vintage beach wear. Since I was waiting for H to wrap up his latest Grindr find, I browsed long and hard till I got the all clear.

Leaving The Springs, H and I felt compelled to make a substantial donation to the Morongo Casino. Their slots were SO not loose. Stick with Vegas, kids.

It was a wonderful weekend, don’t get me wrong, I love Palm Springs and I love H and I love traveling and trying new things. But my party girl days are over. The raves, the fests are best left to the young. I just wanna shop, watch some golf, have dinner, drink some beers, and dance to some oldies. 

That’s the Dinah Shore I wanna wash up on.

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