Friday, 8 April 2016

World Without Men: 20,000 Lesbians in the Desert for Five Days of Pools, Partying and Debauchery at the World's Biggest All-Female Festival

Fun in the sun: The Dinah is a yearly chance for tens of thousands of gay women to get together and party - it regularly attracts 20,000 visitors  

Every year at the end of March, 20,000 lesbians from around the world fly into the Californian desert for five days of debauchery, and I’m one of them. It’s my second time at the Dinah, also known as the largest girl festival in the world. I’m staying at the Hilton in Palm Springs, which is hosting the famous Dinah pool parties, and the hotel feels like a homosexual harem.

It’s a surreal experience: for a few days the world is turned upside down, the minority is suddenly the majority. Everywhere you look, lesbians are smiling, drinking, dancing, kissing. There are a few men around – staff working the event and guys who have been dragged along by lesbian friends – but they are hard to spot. It’s basically entirely queer women in attendance.
The party is named after the Dinah Shore golf tournament, started in 1972 by the eponymous entertainer. Dinah Shore wasn’t a lesbian (she’d be doing somersaults in her grave if she knew what her moniker was attached to now), but golf seems to attract a lot of lesbians. A sapphic scene sprouted up around the golf tournament, and the Dinah was born. It’s now in its 26th year.

Progress: 0%

Today, nobody is here for the golf. No one is here for the DJs, comedians or YouTube stars performing either. They’re here for the girls. Butch, femme, old, young, gold stars, bi, black, white, hardcore, normcore – the Dinah attracts a diverse group. There’s a sense of liberation and a tacit understanding that what happens in Dinah stays in Dinah (unless it ends up on Facebook).
“Flashing is normal,” Charlotte, 24, told me. “I get flashed at a lot.” Random girls pulling you into their hotel rooms are also pretty standard. One year, there was a minor earthquake in Palm Springs. Debbie, a Dinah veteran who has attended every event since 1991, recalls that half the water splashed out of the pool. Most of the girls were too drunk to realize or care.

The feeling of permissiveneBooze, cruise: Many members party hard - perhaps harder than they would in more mixed surroundingsss is compounded by the desert scenery: it looks like there has been some sort of gaypocalypse, and all the straight men and women have died out.
I can’t lie, it’s nice being in a predominantly female space for a few days. There’s a feeling of comfortable camaraderie; a sense of suddenly being a first-class citizen. But I feel like that comes more from the queerness rather than the femaleness. No one at the Dinah wishes a plague on all men. Despite the stereotype of the man-hating dyke, most lesbians really like men (we need them around to ensure we don’t get too distracted). The Dinah isn’t about separatism; it’s about celebration.

LGBT Central: Palm Springs' LGBT population is estimated to be nearly 50 percent, giving it the USA's highest gay population
It’s also about scantily clad celebration. Maybe all the clothes got destroyed during the gaypocalypse, because nobody’s wearing much. Several opt for stickers or tape over their nipples instead of bikini tops, and I can’t help but think they will later regret the decision (think: ripping off a Band-aid). Then again, so might getting in the pool. There are fake eyelashes floating in the water, and I don’t want to imagine what sort of bodily fluids. You can’t get syphilis from a swimming pool but, for a moment, I wonder.
Debauchery: Since there's no risk of coming on to a straight woman and being disappointed, visitors who want to strike it lucky have the odds very firmly in their favor
Syphilis, by the way, isn’t something most lesbians think about much as they rack up Dinah conquests (“Never settle for a girl from day one,” one girl advised me, “the day two girls are always better”). Nor are STDs in general. It’s my untested hypothesis that one of the reasons the Dinah is so debauched is that it is quite difficult to get pregnant when sleeping with other women, and there’s also a misperception among many lesbians that you’re not at risk of STDs. Certainly it’s not something you’re told about much; a lot of medical professionals aren’t trained to talk to gay women about sexual health.

Another factor feeding into the debauchery, of course, is that lesbians rarely have such a large dating pool on hand. And as any economist will tell you, you’re more likely to be an outrageous flirt when faced with a thick market.

Wet weekend: Pool parties, clubs and performances are all on the cards for the visitors to the event. One visitor recalled a year that an earthquake sloshed half the water out of the pool - and everyone was too drunk to notice

No comments:

Post a Comment