“This five-day Californian extravaganza feels like a pot of gold at the end of the lesbian rainbow”
BY STEPHANIE THEOBALD, IMAGE BY MOLLY ADAMS
I feel as though I’ve fallen into a vat of girl soup here at the pool party in Palm Springs. I’m at The Dinah, floating in one pool with a chilled Margarita in one hand and a state-of-the-art vape in the other (recreational weed is legal in California and designer cannabis stores in Palm Springs are as plentiful as fashionable coffee bars.) I’m trying to work out my technique for dancing in water because Australian rock star G Flip, 30 today, is performing on stage, literally metres in front of me.
The Aussie powerhouse leaps up from their drum kit and announces, “This song is from my new album – it’s about eating pussy when you’re high!”
This provokes ecstatic whoops and a mini tidal wave from the scores of semi-naked women in the water around me, not to mention the hundreds around the edges of the pool. In the wings of the stage, we watch the sexy wiggles from the musician’s new, super-hot, reality TV star wife, Crishelle Stause, who sports a mini dress made of rainbow-coloured chainmail disks.
This five-day Californian extravaganza feels like a pot of gold at the end of the lesbian rainbow. The Dinah, named after the golfer Dinah Shore whose stomping ground was Palm Springs, is the world’s largest lesbian, queer women and non-binary party. An estimated 3000-plus women have flocked from around the globe to this year’s 32nd iteration which could be mistaken for Lesbian Barbie Land.
I think it took me so long to get to my first Dinah because I assumed it would be full of Barbie-type women, i.e. rich, snobby, LA alpha girls. But I’ve been proved wrong. From what you read in the various media these days, there’s a hateful war going on about gender and sexuality definitions. And no doubt there is in some parts, but it’s nice to be in a real-life situation where you can witness for yourself that people in general prefer to be on a good vibration with each other (that’s what California is famous for.) And good energy begets good energy because over here at the Dinah, the attitude is definitely make love (more of that later) not war.
It’s a visual feast and a hugely mixed demographic: black girls with blue hair, cyberpunk white girls, a dominatrix offering consensual whippings around the pool, basketball looks, Chanel rip-off looks, run-away-to-the-circus looks, big bodies, small bodies, bodies with traditional tattoos, avant-garde tattoos, no tattoos, old people, young people, a mix of ethnicities. My new friend today is a 20-something fairy child calling herself @lesbiansnowwhite. They/she went viral on TikTok for her quirky take on pronouns. Her partner looks as though they might be a “they” but if people use the wrong words by mistake there’s a sense of humour and it’s no big deal because there’s so much love and respect going on at the Dinah. (Founder Mariah Hanson says the weekend’s mottos are “Take chances” but also “Be kind.”)
Plus, this year, it feels as if we are on the cusp of something new. Music has always been massive at The Dinah and the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have performed here. But now, many of the musicians are not just “allies” of the queer female world. They are actually out and proud themselves. And significantly, this year’s headliners are queer women of colour. Princess Nokia, 31, headlines on Saturday night, striding down the stage in knee-high sports socks, hot pants and a wife beater proclaiming “J’Adore Dykes”. She exclaims to the audience: “Did I hear the word ‘lesbian’? Did I hear the word ‘queer’? Did I hear the words ‘liberation and equality for all!’”
Performer highlights include sexually fluid indie musician Phem, who does a great version of All The Things She Said by t.A.T.u. with help from some good dancers from the audience and charismatic Latvian lesbian chanteuse, Keeana Kee with her shamanically-trained drummer, the Chilean-American Mila Tina. Kee grins as she tells me she has one song about a dildo. There is a brilliant breakout artist called Oomy Oomy, straight out of Atlanta and now in LA as of five months. Oomy Oomy is a kind of cosmic Prince with an ethereal voice creating a futuristic funk A.K.A. “porno groove” to serve as “a portal to an alternate reality.”
One of my highlights is meeting Doechii, 25, famous for her viral ditty Yucky Blucky Fruitcake, a humorous yet deeply felt take on being a black female outsider. She’s on the cusp of entering the big time, being besties with Janelle Monáe and she’s about to go on tour with Doja Cat.
It’s so refreshing to hear her talk openly about being bisexual. “Oh yeah, my girl’s here tonight,” she says and, like a good sport, she tells it like it is. “Am I a top, bottom or switch? Oh, I’m a bottom – a power bottom!”
She tells me later, “I’m really excited about the emergence of queer women of colour,” adding that she loves the Dinah because it feels, “so safe. Being with the people of my community. I feel free. I can relax!”
During her electric set, she feeds vodka to the audience, sings her smash hit What It Is, and makes a toast, to ecstatic applause, to being surrounded tonight by, “some weird-ass bitches!”
Meanwhile, back in the blue girl soup the next day, I am enjoying the new trend for “pasties”. Not the meat and potato Cornish kind. Pasties are also colourful, glittery nipple stickers. One woman has brought a bunch to the Dinah to hand out. “It sucks that we can’t take our tops off like guys are allowed to,” she says. “But the change starts right here!”
I’ve pal-ed up with a group of Australian chicks by this point, and they’ve given me the confidence, at the grand age of 57, to discard my bikini top and wear a pair of stick-on stars (in an army camouflage pattern) on my nipples instead. This is the magic of the Dinah, also known as a feeling known as “sisterhood”.
One of the pasties later unpeels in the water. But the sky doesn’t fall on my head and the woman from Mumbai, India, floating next to me says, “You are lucky, they’re usually painful to get off.”
On Sunday night, we all tumble out of the final nightclub and hang out on the terrace, wishing we’d been feeling this cocky and at ease on our first night.
“Sunday night’s the hot night,” confides one of my new Aussie friends, a two-year veteran of The Dinah. “I went to a nine-person orgy on the final night last year.”
“Oh, you are my hero!” says Anoushka, the Russian computer analyst in her late 20s, now living in Chicago, who attained her dreamed-of one-night stand the previous evening.
A Melbourne native confesses that she’d finally “pashed” with two girls that afternoon.
“And I wish I’d worn my pasties in the pool now,” she says with a shrug.
Never mind, I tell her. There’s always next year.
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