Dinah Shore Weekend’s Mariah Hanson dishes on LGBT bacchanal
WEST HOLLYWOOD — Mariah Hanson, co-founder of the Dinah Shore Weekend, Palm Spring’s 22-year old annual Lesbian outdoor music and pool party, chats with Popdecay Editor-in-Chief Desiree Washington about putting on the infamous bacchanalian event, which draws tens of thousands of lesbian tourists to Palm Springs, California annually.
Mariah Hanson sets the gold standard for outdoor festivals because party planning is in her blood. As a college co-ed, she wanted to be a writer. But Mariah Hanson quickly discovered her true calling after throwing a series of “really great parties” in college, she says.
“Coming from a family that was active in the Civil Rights Movement, I’ve always been a champion of LGBT rights,” Mariah says. “I wanted an environment where women could feel safe and enjoy themselves.”
Her early focus on civic-mindedness and party planning has paid off in spades for Mariah. Taking her knowledge and experience on the road, the Mill Valley native moved across the Bay to San Francisco to form the city’s most preeminent women’s clubs in the late 80s, namely The G-Spot, Club Skits and Cherry Bar. But conquering the Bay Area’s LGBT club scene was just the beginning.
In 1991, Mariah Hanson set her sights on SoCal. “I wanted to set up a platform to showcase certain issues,” and the Dinah Shore Weekend allows her to do precisely that.
The Dinah Shore Weekend synthesizes all Mariah Hanson’s efforts, becoming the preeminent lesbian vacation destination. An outdoors ladies salon, it gathers tens of thousands of women from all over the world in one sunny and warm place to drink …and swap social and political ideas.
With sponsors such as the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, Mariah Hanson makes Dinah Shore Weekend more than party-central. It has proven to be a viable vehicle for marriage-equality planning and the like. But of course, the party is what mostly fuels the annual trans-continental migration to Palm Springs.
Since its foundation, the LGBT community has defined the Dinah Shore Weekend by its daily, all-day long, outdoor pool party — and music festival — featuring the LGBT community’s hottest DJs, dancers and bands. But in 2009, Mariah Hanson double-downed on entertainment, bringing in household names like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry — and later Chaka Khan — and partnering with The L Word and the Real L Word to re-up the celebrity factor. All in all, her vision is what keeps the sun-soaked drunken revelry viable.
The Dinah Shore Weekend, not be confused with the newer Dinah Shore weekend in Las Vegas – a rival outfit run by the promoters of Girl Bar in Los Angeles – lasts four days and runs from April 3-7 in Palm Springs. For more information, click here: http://thedinah.com/
UPDATE: This article was updated 3/17/2013 at 10:00 p.m. to correct the misstatement that Chaka Khan performed at Dinah Shore Weekend in 2009. She performed last year.