L.A. Scene April ’09: “L Word” Finale Viewing, GenderPlay, Stand-Up, and Dinah


Turns out, lesbians know how to party. I was a first-timer this year, or a "Dinah Virgin,” as many a tank top proclaimed.

I headed to Palm Springs on Friday with four friends. We were still a good hour away when we started playing "spot the lesbians” on the freeway, and by the time we were close, every third car was a Subaru Outback.

Ever since factions developed within the event a few years back, it has become necessary to pick a promoter. There are Sandy and Robin with Girlbar, Linda and Michelle with Fuse, and Mariah Hanson with Clubskirts.

I chose Clubskirts this year, the largest of the gatherings, and the one with the most promising entertainment options. The events were held at the Riviera Hotel and Spa and the Palm Springs Convention Center.

We checked into the Riviera around 2 p.m. and my first of many pool parties was already in full swing. We stood in line to buy drink tickets (no cash at the bars), and then headed out to the pool. At least a thousand mostly bikini-clad, mostly inebriated women danced or lounged by the pool while go-go dancers spun and slithered on platforms above.

Soon after, fires started raging in the hills nearby and the winds (the infamous Santa Anas?) picked up. No one was deterred and with ashes literally raining down on the pool, and into our margaritas, everyone kept the party hopping.

The first event of the night was a comedy show starring Margaret Cho. I was seated next to an older couple who, when glow sticks were passed out at the start, demanded to know just what it was they could do besides glow. Tough crowd. Jill Bennett and Elizabeth Keener were hilarious together as the show’s emcees. Dinah Virgins Jessica Kirson and Gina Yashere were huge hits. Both comics received standing ovations after their respective performances.

Seeking a break from the masses and from the Chuck E. Cheese-style drink ticket situation I headed off to Sidebar, a relatively relaxing lounge at the Riviera.  Here I encountered a number of high-profile revelers taking shelter from the storm, namely Leisha Hailey, Elizabeth Keener, Liz Feldman, Nicol Paone, and the comics of the night Jessica Kirson and Gina Yashere.

The L Word‘s Alicia Leigh Willis and Elizabeth Keener at Dinah

Off to the White Diamonds Party at the Palm Springs Convention Center… Everyone wore white, a requirement that made virtually all individuals look ridiculous but the overall effect was rather stunning. Katy Perry performed and the crowd went wild. I wonder if young Katy envisioned herself performing in front of thousands of identically dressed lesbians when she wrote her fateful song.

The party went until about 2 a.m. and everyone jumped into complimentary shuttles or taxis and went back to the hotel. A number of people had stocked their rooms and we visited a few in-suite parties. Hopefully no one was trying to sleep, as the preferred way of organizing these gatherings was to scream invites from balcony to balcony.

I decided to call it a night when my hostess fell asleep in the bathtub around 4 a.m. With two full days ahead, I figured it was best not to peak too early.

I woke Saturday morning to the sound of women galloping toward the Cabana Girl Pool Party hosted by LOGO. The LOGO party went all day at the main pool while a number of events took place throughout the resort. The Dinah Idol competition was fierce as performers faced off in the blazing sun for a panel of celesbian judges.

The winner, Melange Lavonne was fantastic and brought me to tears with her song about being a gay-parent

AfterEllen.com hosted a Rock Band Competition that drew a crowd and featured some of AfterEllen.com’s finest, including Dara Nai, Karman Kregloe, Jenn and Dee, and Nisha Ganatra. This coincided with Lube Wrestling in one of the courtyards, where very attractive women in bikini’s groped each other on a tarp covered in lube. Then there was a Go Go dancing competition by the pool hosted Bridget McManus, where attractive women in bikinis danced for the crowd.

Uh Huh Her performed a very mellow set at the secondary pool. Eventually, people went back to their rooms to get changed for the Hollywood Party.

The Hollywood Party also took place at the Palm Springs Convention Center. This was the one to get dressed-up for, and also the place to spot your favorite celesbians. 

The red carpet was a mob-scene as dozens of celebrities posed for endless photos. Some of the women walking the red carpet were Jamie Lauren (Top Chef), Shawnee Hawkins (Dr. Phil), Alicia Leigh Willis (L Word), Chutney Popcorn director Nisha Ganatra, Ashleigh Sumner (Then Came Lola), Cat Davis (Cat on the Prowl), Suzanne Westenhoefer, and Katy Perry.

Katy Perry on the red carpet
Katy Perry

Unlike actual Hollywood parties where celebrities walk the red carpet then disappear, these women gamely mingled with the rest of us all night.

The night featured a celebrity fashion show with most of the aforementioned celebrities strutting their stuff on stage. Lady Gaga took the stage and was phenomenal. Clearly we are gaining street cred if someone performs on American Idol and then at Dinah three days later!

Sunday’s all-day pool party was hosted by She Wired and Here! TV. Celebrity dodgeball took place in the courtyard, hosted by Sirius Radio’s Doria Biddle. There was a Wet Tee-Shirt contest, a concert by God-des and She, and a game of Twister. The hottest lesbian in the nation contest drew huge crowds, with Madison Eker winning the title.

There were several camera crews at the event, including one for a documentary called Out in the Desert, which followed 16 women from all over the world, and from very different backgrounds, who made the trip to Dinah. The film will also feature celebrity interviews, plenty of Dinah footage, and, I hope, lots of glow sticks.

On Sunday I asked a number of women to sum up their experiences at Dinah. All were glad they came, with responses ranging from "it was a blast” to "it was absolutely life changing." Living in Los Angeles it’s easy to forget that not everyone has access to a welcoming community and Dinah is a rare opportunity to be "out."

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