Here I stand (sit?), a two-time Dinah veteran. Not yet a seasoned pro, but getting there. I’ve experienced Dinah as extremely single and extremely taken, as a nobody with a pool party pass and a shitty hotel room and a nobody with a guest bracelet and a nice hotel room. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve walked more than I wanted and slept less than I needed. I approached this Dinah with an understanding of what I was about to encounter and a preparedness that allowed me to not only survive but to mostly enjoy myself.
My girlfriend and I drove from LA to Palm Springs Thursday night. I figured it would be healthier for our relationship since there was a thing on Friday we could possibly be late for, and she is perpetually that. One of the perks of being white, I guess: you get to be late and you don’t feel like people will judge your entire race for it. Girlfriend Liz tells me this is called “stereotype threat.”
We arrive at the hotel and they have the wrong name listed for check-in. I don’t really know whose fault this is so I blame the entire human race as I am wont to do. I have to call Alex Vega in the 11 o’clock hour so she can call the hotel and switch the reservation to my name. She handles it like a pro and in no time I’m filling out a form that not only replaces me as the person assigned the room, but lets me list the names of people I authorize to get room keys whenever they need them. All of this is a huge waste of time as apparently they burned this piece of paper as soon as I left, because no one was able to ever get a key without some sort of drama at the front desk.
The next morning is as leisurely and relaxed as it can be when you have to wait while someone changes their bikini top/shorts/tank top combination five times. We head to get our wristbands before the noon rush and then go back to our room to hang out until our friends and Autostraddle web series members get in. Along with Lauren Neal and Sarah Sokolski from Words With Girls, Sarah Croce, Haviland Stillwell and Ashley Reed are there with Unicorn Plan-It. There’s an Autostraddle meet-up that afternoon; we have all decided beforehand that it will be pointless, but we decide to be responsible individuals anyway. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hyped from just arriving to an event, have been drinking my face off and am dancing violently next to a pool, the number-one thing I want to do is go to a dark bar whose location I’m unsure of and talk to people who are probably way more sober than I am. Needless to say, the meet-up is a rousing success. More than one person shows up. It is great. I also just want to throw in that the only place it was mentioned was in the booklet, which only some people that attend Dinah get and which roughly three people on earth read. One of those people is me. I have literally never seen anyone else even touch that booklet. I don’t know how people know where to be. I guess there’s some gay guiding force that pulls them.
After the pool party, which I don’t attend much of between the going to the meet-up and and taking note of where everyone’s rooms are, my girlfriend and I decide to find food. We haven’t eaten since we had something quick in the morning, and we’re both starving. We wander around the strips of restaurants a couple of blocks from our hotel in search of a place that has vegan options, isn’t expensive and takes cards. After 30 minutes, we both know that if we don’t find food soon, we’ll to turn into cranky grumbling monsters. Just in time, we find a place called Atomic Dogs. I don’t like hot dogs so while she lucked out, I’m still screwed. I say fuck it and map the closest Burger King, which is two Dinah miles away. A Dinah mile, as defined by me, is five minutes of walking while intoxicated. We decide to meet back at the hotel and I start walking.
After we eat, we nap until it’s time to get ready for the White Party and Haviland’s performance; we really know how to get the party going. Haviland performed a five-song set, including two of her original songs, at Hunter’s, a local gay bar. We watched the show and chatted with Wendy Jo Carlton (Hannah Free, Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together) and Lisa Cordileone (Easy Abby).
Unlike the pool parties, which were at the Hilton, the White Party is in Hotel Zoso, where we are staying. There are three different rooms going, so everywhere you turn, there are hordes of women, dressed in their best (and probably only) white attire with drinks in hand and smirks on faces. Before we join them, the members of Words With Girls and Unicorn Plan-It have to hit up the VIP Party. I go down early to check it out and report back. There are a few of the other web series folks milling around outside the room but none of them are going in—or talking to each other. I decide we can forgo this awkwardness for a little while.
By the time we show up, all of the people I recognized earlier are gone and the only people in the room are the people that paid to be. We’re all standing around talking when we realize the DJ is playing a ton of old Jay-Z and Missy Elliot, along with other straight-up 90s jams like “Candy Rain.” No strangers to spectacle, we dance by ourselves on the empty dance floor until it’s time for the red carpet, where we proceed to look like we don’t belong and probably confuse everyone with our presence.
After the red carpet, we go back to the VIP Room because the DJ is still playing a heavy hip hop and R&B throwback set. A party promoter from the Virgin Islands buys us all drinks, and a Club Skirts photographer snaps pictures of us being ridiculous. There’s no reason to leave so we don’t. They’ve stopped checking wristbands at the door, so we invite all of our friends to the room and only leave when we find out that there’s a hip hop room upstairs. Eventually we’ve danced long enough and most people are too drunk to coherently answer texts about where they are that we decide to move on to the next thing, which is obviously pizza. We find a place that is a)open, b)walkable and c)dirt cheap. We rendezvous with Jess Shaffer of The Love Corner and I call cabs for the eight people that successfully make it to her room. We end up at a house party until 3:30-ish, then head back to get some sleep.
Next: Saturday and Sunday Shenanigans
Saturday morning is the celesbian dodgeball game. The celesbians are led by Fortune Feimster (Chelsea Lately) and Bridget McManus (Cowgirl Up, McManusland) and are defeating the competition until they come up against a team of Dinah attendees that happens to be heavily composed of members of an actual dodgeball team from LA. The promise of mimosas is a large part of the reason we showed up for this. Shirin Papillon of One More Lesbian invites us to her room and it’s the first chance we get to really chat with the woman who invited us to take part in the Battle of the Lesbian Web Series, which is nice. We talk about not much of anything with a few other people including Nicole Pacent (Anyone But Me, I Hate Tommy Finch), Dalila Ali Rajah (Cherry Bomb, Grey’s Anatomy) and Alex Vega hair-twin Abisha Uhl (Girl/Girl Scene, Sick of Sarah). That thing happens where you’re like, “Ok, let’s leave after I finish this drink.” And then someone has just finished theirs and so they grab another one because lord forbid they have to not drink while you finish your drink and then goddamnit now I HAVE to get another drink while you finish yours and so on until someone gets pissed that it’s now been 30 minutes and everyone has a drink again and it’s for realz time to go so now everyone has to chug their drink because that’s the only way to fix the situation at this point.
Having learned our lesson from yesterday, we decide to go to brunch at Palm Greens Cafe which is obviously a healthy place because it has the word green in it. Is there some kind of policy about that word? Or can I just open a fast food place, put green in the title, design it all super modern with a lot of greens and oranges and then watch as disappointed health enthusiasts enter and realize I’m serving up bacon cheeseburger realness? This place is like three Dinah miles away. It’s aight but Lauren and Liz really like it.
We head back to the pool party and hang out before our big event, Battle of the Lesbian Web Series. Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard were there promoting and shooting Gay Street Therapy and hosted the battle. They didn’t bring their super soaker which I was relieved about but they brought their usual antics and really livened up the “Dinah Says” event as much as humanly possible. The competition ended with lip syncing but it was really just dancing and gyrating. Here Unicorn Plan-It held a bit of an advantage since they enlisted Stacy Bratten, former Dinah dancer. They ended up taking home the trophy but I have to say that Words With Girls held our own in such a way that a member from the audience jumped on stage during Lauren’s performance so there’s that.
Fast forward past a lot of nothing to the Saturday night party at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Lauren and I decide to walk and the phone’s navigation flips out. With our creative route, it ends up being about four Dinah miles. We go to the VIP “cocktail” party which surprisingly lacked any and all cocktails or even tap water but did have a lot of cheese. We do another red carpet walk and answer a lot of random questions then check out the poker tournament that Brandy and Julie are hosting. It doesn’t sound like they’re harrassing anyone and everyone seems really focused on playing so I walk around the party for a bit then leave for Jess’s room where there is talk of going to the Ace Hotel which is way too many Dinah miles for me to even consider walking. I head home and go to sleep, deciding Sunday would be a big day. No commitments or responsibilities and my girlfriend promises me bacon in the morning.
Post Sunday bacon, there’s a lot of hanging out in a Hilton room and watching the pool party from the shady balcony. A dozen or so people joined us WWGers including Cee and her friends. We sing and dance and even flood the hallway at one point. There are lots of “it’s a video, not a picture” moments and even a few goodbyes since most Los Angelinos were headed back that day. Since I wanted to see the Uh Huh Her concert that night and threatened anyone who tried to keep me from it with death, we just relaxed and enjoyed the last day with our friends and thousands of other women we didn’t know but who managed to do some pretty entertaining shit as they walked past the room.
They said they would open the doors at 8pm for the Uh Huh Her concert which means me, Liz, and Lauren were lined up at 7:55. They didn’t go on until 9 and my feet already hurt but we were upfront and no one was pushing or doing annoying shit so I was happy. They played Explode, Human Nature, Wait Another Day, and some of their other popular songs along with some new stuff. They announced their new album would be more rock leaning while debuting their new songs. Leisha Hailey proceeded not to make eye contact with the crowd or speak any words but Camila Grey was ready with banter and playfulness. To be honest, the person with the most charisma wasn’t even singing. They have the Joe Biden of drummers. He looked genuinely happy to be there and his engagement with the crowd was only more evident next to Leisha’s stoicism.
That was the last big event. All that was left was to listen to Lauren and Liz order a bunch of weird food that night that doesn’t really go together, pack up in the morning, grab the Autostraddle banner, and leave. My number one regret was not keeping count of how many people asked Lauren’s nationality or race and/or if she was straight. The answer, of course, is too many.
To sum it all up, these are the most important lessons I have to impart from the past two years:
1.) Eat at least two real meals a day and drink more water than you think you need. This seems like common sense but it’s easy to get swept up in everything that’s happening and your own laziness. After one night of sleep at home, I was back to my usual self and not the sick zombie that I was for like three days last year.
2.) Don’t cross into the half of the pool party closest to the stage unless it’s during a performance you really want to see. You must never go there, Simba.
3.) Shower whenever you feel like it because when the time comes that you actually need to shower, you won’t feel like it.
4.) Map it. Just because everyone is hopping in a cab, doesn’t mean you need to. In your head, mileage might be different than any other time of the year but taxis still cost the same amount. A fifteen minute walk is not worth six bucks, even if it is three Dinah miles.
5.) You know those people that are always surrounded by others but none of those people ever look happy to see them or be around them? They are, in fact, wack, no matter how many people try to convince you otherwise.
Peace be with you, God’s speed, namaste, etc.