Q&A with Mariah Hanson


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Photo: Courtesty of Club Skirts

Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend is right around the corner and promoter and organizer Mariah Hanson is hard at work perfecting this must-attend lesbian event. Hanson, who took over the event close to 20 years ago, started out as a young promoter with only two years of experience under her belt and propelled The Dinah to the monumental success it is today. With Ke$ha, Salt ‘n Pepa, Martha Davis, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Paradiso Girls and many more performing, this year could be the biggest and most entertaining Dinah to date. So pack your bags, book your room and get ready to party as thousands of other lezzies take over Palm Springs.

Last year was the largest Dinah in the event’s history, why do you think it has become such a big part of the lesbian community?
It’s this really amazing weekend that’s become a pride celebration for the lesbian community. We like to be down there and a part of it and people who aren’t there like to see what’s going on the Internet. It’s a really watched weekend, it’s our celebration, there’s nothing like it in the world. Nobody’s been able to even come close to duplicating the Dinah anywhere else in the country including myself. We’re throwing a Lilith Fair-type of concert all weekend so we’re giving the lesbian community the most high profile, cutting-edge talent every year and how exciting to come and take over an entire town and live out loud for five days while being catered to by three and four star hotels and watching the most insane entertainment you can imagine that are playing for us. What’s happening is this really amazing love fest and it creates a sense pride for us because this is our weekend, this is our baby and it’s good to us and we’re good to it.

Every year you bring fresh talent to The Dinah and often the event propels them to stardom. Are people starting to look to the lesbian community for clues to what is going to be hot next?
The entertainment community is looking at the Dinah Shore Weekend. Lesbians are finally looked at as early adopters and trendsetters. It’s so cool. I’m really proud of that because I think our community is really amazing and I think that a lot of the myths about it are not true and if I can help to debunk them or my event can help to debunk them it’s a treat for me.

How does it feel to have created this event for our community?
I feel like I’m the Dinah steward, this is my stewardship, but this is the community’s event and I think the community should really be very proud of that whether they agree with it or not. The Dinah’s not for everybody, whether one agrees with that five day Bacchanalian delight or not, it is actually changing landscapes for how we’re perceived and I think that’s really good stuff.

You have said that The Dinah brings people together and changes them for the better, how do you think that happens?
This event is not just a party; this event is so multi-layered in its significance. It’s a political statement, it’s a social statement, it’s a weekend that’s so diverse. It’s really important to me that the weekend reflects every facet of our community because every facet of our community wants to go to it. And so we’re creating an event where you might live in different pockets of the United States, and they might not be as progressive as it is in San Francisco or Los Angeles, but when you get to the Dinah you’re there for five days celebrating with every conceivable type of lesbian possible. Maybe some types that you don’t normally hang out with. Something happens during that weekend because it’s such an amazing, joyful celebration that people get over that and just have a good time. They’re all there at the Dinah; the Dinah is the common bond. There’s something about the words “the Dinah” that really kind of changes mindsets. It’s all about celebrating. It’s all about living out loud for five days. So when you do that for five days and all of a sudden realize that, wow, these differences really aren’t that significant, you don’t go home feeling the same way because you’ve experienced something meaningful.

You do a lot of social activism in your private life, how are you bringing that to the Dinah this year?
You know with a big party like that you can’t spoon feed people ideology, but you can help them to get more engaged and so for me to do the No H8–Sunday Lovin’ featuring No H8–well it’s a perfect opportunity to create a political event in the context of a wild party. We’re taking a huge photo at the end of it and we’re going to send it out to every media outlet saying hey here we are at the Dinah, but we still want our rights. We care about our rights and we’re parting with that in mind. What an amazing photograph that’s going to be. (thedinah.com)

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