*First published during the Dinah 2017. We’re celebrating last year’s experience in hopes this year will be even better! The opening party is TONIGHT! Follow @AfterEllen on Insta for exclusive peeks!
Author’s Note: Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of certain individuals. Neither The Club Skirt’s Dinah Shore Weekend nor AfterEllen condone any of the following debauchery. …Or do they?
The First Night Ends at a Motel 6
It’s not what you think. I didn’t hook up with anyone.
The night starts at Zelda’s Night Club for the opening party. Margeaux Simms takes our breaths away as she captivates us with her beautiful voice and amazing stage presence. At some point I dance in the VIP section with strangers who are pouring me complementary drinks while I’m making out with a girl that looks like Kate Moennig 2004.
And then my phone goes missing.
A production assistant — who I also make out with — helps me track my phone down. When she calls it, someone immediately answers. “They said they don’t know how they have it, but they’ve got your phone.” It’s inside of a Motel 6. After finding their room, we end up making new friends with more Dinah attendees talking all night long until it’s time to officially pass out.
Only at The Dinah can your phone go missing and moments later the person who accidentally stole it offers you a drink before chatting about life, dreams, and goals.
Swimming in Nipples
Girls will do a lot for some stickers. For fun, I hand them out during the pool parties. After a few friends start using the stickers as nipple pasties, girls begin to greet me by pulling down their tops so I can apply stickers onto their breasts. After a day of experiencing my own personal Mardi Gras, I finally head back to my friend’s room at The Hilton. The hallways seem endless.
“Hey, come party!”
To my left some girls are dancing next to a party light while music plays through a speaker from someone’s phone inside of their room. Upon getting closer, one of them looks familiar. “I think I’ve seen you somewhere.” Her face is beaming.
“I’m DJ Lezlee’s cousin!”
We exchange phone numbers and agree to hang out sometime later.
Chatting with Celesbians
The Pink Pussy Party (The White Party) and The Hollywood Party began with featured talented walking the red carpet. These moments were specifically the reason I came to Dinah. To record interviews with celebrities. Our team does a sound and video check as special appearances start to pose for the cameras. Bulbs flash.
Yes. Madison Paige is that hot in real life. She is always literally flawless. Her and her girlfriend head towards me after I call out to her.
“Hi! I’m Lily Khuu–”
“I remember you.”
We exchange a hug and I begin the interviews.
Before coming to Dinah, I prepared by researching which questions artists want to be asked. Unsurprisingly, they don’t want to be asked “who” they are wearing. They don’t want to be asked who did their hair.
So, I didn’t ask these types of questions.
Producer and women’s advocate Jennifer Siebel Newsom founded the #AskHerMore campaign urging red carpet reporters to ask questions that have more substance. After considering the message of her campaign, I decided to ask questions that shined a light on an artist’s craft, provoked thoughtful statements about the message behind their work, and I requested some of them to demonstrate their talents right on the spot.
Tish Hyman sang brand new lyrics within a few seconds of my requesting she improvise a song about The Dinah. Patricia Rea opened up about what it was like being a parent of a child coming out of the closet. FHB told us why they conceal their faces.
“You’re a celebrity?”
My friend Nik Kacy walks up to me wearing a celebrity badge. Nik smiles. “I guess so!” More familiar faces show up on the red carpet. It’s a small world.
The next day, Mikey from The Real L Word is lifting me in the air, kissing me, and sending me a text message.
The thing about the lesbian community is that, it is so tiny the celebrity status hierarchy almost completely diminishes. We need each other. No one’s too good for anyone here.
At some point, my Dinah-Brain decides it’s a good idea to “collect states.” My friend — who shows up to the Pink Pussy Party in a white bath robe — acts as my wing woman. She goes up to a girl of my choice and asks her where she’s from. If it is anywhere but a location of a girl I had already kissed, then I ask that girl if I can kiss her. I believe I left The Dinah having kissed New York, Portland, Chicago, Florida, Georgia, and New Mexico.
Eventually I never wanted to kiss another person ever again.
On the top floor I run into “Kate Moennig 2004” again — the girl I made out with at The Opening Party. She is with her usual crew of fun party girls and has a dice in her hand.
“Want to play?”
“What are we playing.”
“We dare someone to do something and pick a number. If that person rolls the number, they have to do the dare.”
“Let’s do it!”
At some point ‘Moennig 2004’ is dared to kiss a girl in the room who greeted me earlier after recognizing me. Given that ‘Moennig 2004’ and I made out recently, I want to make it clear to her that I’m fully supportive of her Dinah endeavors.
“Let me help you.”
I ask the girl if ‘Moennig 2004’ can make out with her since she was dared to do so. She agrees to and they lock lips. Afterwards, we all form a train of mindless grinding to the music as it gets louder and the lights grow brighter.
“There is a house party after this!”
“Who is Jenny?”
“I don’t know! I will text you the address. See you there!”
At this point, I haven’t slept in my own hotel room even once since the Opening Party.
Private Hotel Parties
“The party has ARRIVED!” We don’t know whose hotel room this is and we most definitely weren’t formally invited. However, decide we belong at this private party being held on the third floor of the Hilton. Some friends and I find this gem by wandering The Hilton looking for music in order to track where the fun is happening. It’s being thrown by event producers from San Francisco. There is a plethora of free alcohol. Music is coming out of a professional gig speaker. More people start spilling in until the room is wall to wall with dancing bodies. I turn one of my friend’s phones into a strobe light and add to the ambiance of the affair.
I pride myself in being part of the discovery process to this shindig. A friend finds me after I text her the room number. A smile grows across her face as we dance.
“I’ve been coming here for the past two nights!”
“This room right here?
And I thought I was special.
Another friend hands me a bottle of whisky. After realizing that the music is coming from a playlist streaming on a laptop we start chanting, “DJ Spotify! DJ Spotify! DJ Spotify!”
Somehow, no one punches us in the face.
I see someone I recognize and greet her immediately.
“Hey! You’re DJ Lezlee’s cousin!”
Whiskey and Adventures
“My car is fucking missing.”
A friend is on the phone with me — locked out of her hotel room, in a bikini in the cold wind, and her car is missing. Mind you, I had lost my favorite jacket, favorite shirt, and two hotel room keys at this point and wasn’t one to judge anybody for losing anything. Our crew reunites and heads back to the hotel to help save her.
After tirelessly searching, no one finds her car and everyone is convinced that it was either stolen or towed for being illegally parked. Two days go by without finding her car. Eventually we give up and accept the fact that her car is gone forever.
We continue to party like there never was a car to begin with.
The last morning of Dinah, we drive less than a block away from the hotel.
“That’s a blue car. Is that your car?”
It was her car.
“We can literally see it from the hotel room.”
Until the Sunrise
Tripping on something, the leader of a well-known corporate brand rubs my feet as I down another whiskey shot. I look down at her. “My feet are dirty.” She smiles, continuing to give me a foot massage. “I’m so happy that I don’t even care!”
“I’ve never felt this happy in my entire life!’
How did I get here? Whose room is this? Who is that girl on the bed? Who are those people on the balcony? Fuck it. I go join them.
I spend the next few hours having a deep conversation about the political climate of the world with a woman from Austraila until the sun rises. We watch the beautiful orange and pink hues appear over the horizon turning the palm trees into distant silhouettes.
What Happens at Dinah
Before I went to Dinah, I was newly single and just starting to make friends in the community. After leaving Dinah, I have new friends, bonded more deeply with the friends I already have, and left with an unforgettable experience that I will cherish forever. I’m already looking forward to next year.
By the way, almost everyone in this story is anonymous for a reason…
What happens at Dinah, stays at Dinah.