(This article was written by Jennifer Corday for the October 8, 2021 online issue of THE HOLLYWOOD TIMES.)
I know, I know, you think you’ve outgrown Dinah. And you may have. It’s a lot of loud music, half-naked go-go-girls, ass-shaking contests, over-drinking and debauchery. And ya know what else? It’s FUN!
If you are over forty, you might be challenged to feel relaxed and at home at Dinah these days. But if you give it a chance, that should only take you about fifteen minutes. Sure, things are different now. But that’s because things ARE different now, and if The Dinah is to continue to survive for generations to come, it has to evolve with the times. “You have to feel the community, if you are going to lead the community,” says promoter Mariah Hanson. “Everything about this event has so softened up. You get to be who you are, when you are, living out loud, empowered. And that feels really good.”
It does feel good. The Dinah is the ultimate lesbian playground, and “lesbian” might not even be the right word anymore. There are no labels. There are no rules. There is no alarm when a breast-less girl in high heels buys a mimosa for her butch girlfriend. There is no panic when a cool straight couple is spotted singing with their queer friends. I met a throuple and they invited me and my girlfriend to join them (we respectfully declined but did do shots together). A lot of women are hooked up, and many are married, but there’s a good slew of single women. I even met quite a few girls who came totally alone, and they jumped right into conversations with ease. There were mohawks and bald heads, Brazilian waxes and armpit hair, gold chains and nipple tape. Dresses and suits, heels and boots. Bow-ties and cleavage-- lots of cleavage. It was a beautiful wacky pool of multi-ethnic, non-binary, fashion-forward, semi-tattooed, open-minded people. The one common denominator: it felt safe. Like we were all family. And that is something special.
Opening night party was at the new Asia SFPS which dripped with style. Multiple rooms with cool lighting and décor are sprinkled with catwalks go-go boxes with faux leather couches around the sides, which is a great spot to park and people watch. I was diggin’ the jams from oh-so-cool DJ Ressie Cups (yes, she likes Reeses Peanut Butter Cups) and China G who spun from the red room. Bio Band hit the stage for a few tunes and if you like the 90s pop boy band era, you will love their sassy style! Imagine One Direction, Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees tunes sung by PLUs (people like us). We succeeded in having enough fun at the opening party that we had hangovers Friday. But duty called, so I made way to the Hilton for the Friday pool party while my gf iced her head and took some kind of fancy medication.
Covid-19 protocol was in full force, as security checked your ID, vaccination card, then took a good hard look at your face to match the photo before issuing a green Covid-19screened wristband. We were instructed not to tamper with our wristbands the entire weekend, and security was tight. I ran into my buddies at the Curve Magazine booth and got a temporary tattoo before heading into the pool party where I caught Kat Cunning performing live. Kat’s style is a delicious mix of non-gender sexiness, wearing Dickie-type boy pants and tennies, with a super-hot fishnet on top over a bra. Flanked by two dancers in cutoff white tanks, Kat got vulnerable with their emotional breakup songs about a girl named “Virginia,” and finished the set with their hit “Boys.” Check out the video featuring transgender boys and men of all ages with Kat in the middle, it’s a beauty. I got to talk to them after the show and bought one of their bright orange beanies that says “Kat is My Dad.” I didn’t really know what it meant, but I didn’t care, I was intrigued. Apparently, it’s a nickname for Kat, who wears a gold chain that says “Daddy.” I gave them my Aloha Corday hat in trade.
Back to the pool party, I learned that the fanny pack is back! Now, apparently called a “hip bag,” fanny packs were everywhere! I asked one young pool-goer Katie, about hers. “You got your phone, something for your lips, and a hair tie. That’s really all you need,” she beams, while simultaneously dancing. For us old broads, please take note: Even the credit card is optional, when the bar takes Apple Pay.
The night parties start around 10pm with red carpet arrivals, where you might get a peek at Macy Gray, St. Panther, SWV, Yung Baby Tate, or the aforementioned Kat Cunning, on your way into the convention center lobby. Anticipation builds until doors open and then the dance party ensues. From the butchest of butch to the femme-est of femme, the fashion is fabulous and anything goes! Attention fashion mags: Damn, lesbians (and friends) are cool!
I played a gig myself at Hunter’s Nightclub Saturday night and although this was not an official Club Skirts event, the Dinah Shore energy was in the air on Arenas Street, and the place was packed. I opened with a song from Nina Simone, and then launched into some of my new original tunes including “Shoulda Left Sooner” (check out the video starring Suzanne Westenhoefer), “Anchor” (the ultimate lesbian love song), and “Lollipop” (cuz on the inside we’re all tootsie rolls). Get all the latest news and live show dates on my website: http://corday.net/calendar
Overall, The Dinah 2021 was a hit. I got a lot of feedback from women that missed having a comedy night, and I personally would like a little more rock and roll-- and maybe even a little country? Perhaps a 70s Singalong Night (hint: book CORDAY). Or how about a firepit singalong night with Brandi Carlile? I want it all! But one can only do so much, and The Dinah seems focused on bringing in the cutting-edge pop artists and DJs of the time, which is incredible! Shit, if I can see LP and Dua Lipa next year, I would be STOKED! So please don’t stop doing what you are doing Dinah! Just give us more, please?
Is it overpriced? Maybe. Maybe not. When’s the last time you went out of town for a festival event and spent less than 1K? A weekend at The Dinah will easily set you back 1K, but consider this: It’s a beautiful wacky pool of multi-ethnic, non-binary, fashion-forward, tattooed, open-minded humans, and it feels safe! Like we were all family! And that is something special. I’d pay a pretty penny for that.
“You get to be who you are, when you are, living out loud, empowered. And that feels really good.” –Mariah Hanson