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Mariah Hanson - Club Skirts The Dinah Promoter

An Interview with Mariah Hanson


Mariah Hanson at The Dinah

Mariah Hanson at The Dinah

© Club Skirts The Dinah.
I spoke with Mariah Hanson, promoter of The Dinah, the biggest Dinah Shore Weekend party in Palm Springs every April. The Dinah is a huge lesbian party that attracts thousands of women from all over the world every year. Mariah and I spoke just as she was putting the finishing touches on The Dinah 2009.

Mariah Hanson: I’m very excited. I’m kind of blowing it out. I know there’s a recession but it seems the event should be more explosive than ever this year. I think people really need it. It’s tough times out there.

Lesbian Life: The caliber of entertainment that you get every year just seems to be increasing exponentially. I wonder what do you attribute that to.

There are artists that say no to this event. Then there are artists that really get it, like Pussycat Dolls or India Arie or Katy Perry. They really see the lesbian community as a viable, loyal and really trend setting audience. One in which any artist in their right mind would want to support their music.

People would be surprised at the number of artists that say no to me. Artists that they would assume would jump on the event, say no.

(Joking) Name names!

No. Maybe they’ll say yes next year. Now that we’ve jumped to a whole new level of artists, other artists are saying, I should play this event. It gets an incredible amount of press. It helps sell more albums. The gay community is so fantastic. And loyal.

Do you go after the talent, or do they come to you?

It depends. Like Berlin contacted me this year, they wanted to play it. We had a request a few years ago by Hillary Duff’s people. It fell through, but there are people who see the event as something they want on their tour schedule because they see it as so hip and cutting edge.

Tell me more about this year.

For the first time in the history of The Dinah, and probably the history of lesbian events, we have two top ten artists at a gay event. (Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.) It’s pretty big news because there are two top ten artists playing the Dinah. And they’re both leaving their tours to do it. I’m so excited. It really does speak to the coming of age of our community.

How many women come to the Dinah?

I don’t know… Palm Springs bureau of tourism guestimates about 15 thousand. They’re not all coming to my event.

Going back to 91, what gave you the idea to throw a party at a women’s golf event?

I would call that they folly of youth. I just didn’t think I couldn’t do it.

Were there parties going on? Was it already a lesbian event?

Yeah, I am actually not the original producer of a Dinah Shore Weekend event. They just weren’t very big. I’m kind of attributed with creating the modern day Dinah. When I came in to produce the Dinah, I came in with a different vision and a risk factor that had not been attempted prior. I took over entire hotels. I brought in current top ten talent. I brought corporate sponsors in. Corporate sponsors were not present at lesbian events. Now it’s very common to see them at lesbian events.

There are a lot of women out there who have heard of Dinah, but have never attended. What would you tell someone planning on attending The Dinah for the first time?

Get lots of rest and drink lots of water before you even arrive. Have as much fun as you possibly can. It’s a weekend about having fun and creating new memories and sometimes falling in love. Come with an open heart and an open mind. What is truly amazing about The Dinah is that it attracts such diverse clientele from all over the world.

I received an email from a woman in her 60s and she wanted to know if she and her partner should go to The Dinah because they heard it’s like a lesbian Spring Break and they’re not into drinking and partying. Should they come?

Absolutely and I’ll tell you why. I think everybody should go to the Dinah, just once, even if they don’t attend any of my events. Just to be in town in Palm Springs on Dinah Shore weekend and be out to dinner and the restaurant is peppered with so many other lesbians. It just seems like it’s our little world that weekend. It just feels so different and wonderful. I think that experience alone is worth it.

The Dinah is set up, this year more than ever, where you really pick and choose what you want to do. If someone is in her 60s and doesn’t want to go to the night parties, there’s still the Indigo Girls concert and that’s a separate ticket. There’s still Margaret Cho. There’s still Suzanne Westenhoefer. If they want to peek in and see what all the crazy girls are doing at a pool party, they can. They can experience a magical and magnetic force that really screams to the world, we’ve arrived, we’re here.

I think for someone who is in their sixties, who was probably closeted 40 years ago, it might be a marvel to be looking at the absolute ecstasy or rapture that’s going on that weekend… There’s also the golf.

Have you ever gone to the golf?

I don’t think I have. And I’m a golfer. I love golf. I don’t get a minute off.

Is it important that it happen during the golf weekend any more?

No, I think it’s a case of the tail wagging the dog at this point. I have a lot of respect for the LPGA. They were actually afraid of us for a long time, but they’ve come a long way. They started dialogue a few years ago about wanting to do cross promotion. They finally recognized that the audience was lesbian at their tournament.

You create an amazing vacation for thousands of lesbians every year, what is your ideal vacation?

I haven’t been on a vacation is so long. It’s been years. I would whisk off to Italy. It’s my favorite country.

But I get to experience the Dinah too. I’m producing an event that I like attending.

The Dinah is such an amazing and important event for lesbians. It’s a stewardship for me. I create the stage, I don’t create the magic. It means so much for a certain aspect of our community and I take that really seriously.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a date?

I’m a wine aficionado and I really love good food and good wine. My girlfriend is a pretty good cook and I can serve up a few of my own dishes. We spend a lot of time at home, cooking dinner, lighting a fire, playing dominos. I’m not as exciting as I used to be.
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