Featuring Mariah Hanson, organizer of The Dinah | By Kelley O’Death
Shining a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA community and the world of alternative music…
From Wednesday, March 28, to Sunday, April 1, the “largest and most famous girl party music festival in the world” will descend upon Palm Springs, California.
Founded in 1991 by Mariah Hanson, Club Skirts’ The Dinah Weekend—or simply, The Dinah—is a celebration of queer female empowerment, encouraging all who attend to live out loud. The event is all-inclusive—as long as you’re 21 or over, keep your clothes on, and leave your pooch at home—and features a ridiculously stacked lineup of musicians from both the mainstream and underground.
This year, Dinah attendees can catch sets by everyone from electronic music artist and activist Madame Gandhi to Fag Mob mother Brooke Candy to wordplay master Rhapsody. The weekend will also include appearances by non-musicians such as YouTuber Amber of Amber’s Closet, Endless Road Entertainment CEO Mikey Koffman, and San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers, as well as a whole host of DJs and dancers.
Packed clubs, sweaty pool parties, DJ battles, and comedy shows—featuring Suzanne Westenhoefer and Dana Goldberg!—await anyone donning a coveted wristband, so grab your tickets today!
On The Dinah
I have the best job in the world. Myself and my core management staff look at our work at The Dinah as a creation of five days of pure, unadulterated joy and celebration. We create a space where women come together and unite, bond, connect, create unity, and collectively live out loud with voices eventually raised to a crescendo—or a cheer, if you will.
When you add the magical nectar of music—almost a vibrational philosopher stone that can shift any emotion from a lower state to feelings of sheer exaltation—it’s a recipe for transformation, and that’s what ends up happening for a lot of women who attend The Dinah. They arrive ready for a party; they leave ready to change the world. It’s a powerful experience to come together with that many women from every conceivable background imaginable and spend five days with them celebrating our lives and the commonality of our shared experience as women, as gay women and as a marginalized subtext. But you feel the power of our collective spirit as it builds throughout the weekend, and one can’t help but realize there are so many ways to change the world, and unity is probably one of the most powerful.
On What People Should Knock the Fuck Off
Hating. It happens on both sides.
You don’t like the Republicans and spend time on Facebook complaining about how they hate, how stupid they are, how greedy and evil—you’re hating. The way to change the world is to be the change you want to see happen. Don’t like violence? Eradicate the violence in your heart. Don’t like greedy people? Heal the greed in your own life—however it materializes. We all have facets of good and bad, to put it in overly simple terms. Change starts with the individual, and yes, one person can make a huge difference.
However, to tell anyone to “fuck off” would kinda be contradicting the whole point of this response, so instead, can the question read, “What would you like to tell someone in hopes it would be powerful enough to elicit positive transformation?” The answer? Choose love.
My mother embodied dignity of spirit and wanted it for all people. She was a fierce advocate for equality. My father embodied the love of language, rhetoric, and knowledge. So, I’m more apt to be curled up with a good book than watching TV. I have them both to thank and do every day. My grandfather was a Greek immigrant who made it in this country and instilled in me a fierce work ethic. Mostly, I thank him for instilling in me the love of horses. I have eight, so maybe I went a little overboard.
As far as public role models, Michelle Obama fits my bill. I love dignified women who fiercely advocate—oh, back to my mom…
On Blazing Trails
Well, I guess to be considered the producer of The Dinah is a singular path. Sometimes, when people who have no idea of my job ask me what I do, I tell them, “I produce the largest lesbian event in the world.” I then laugh and say, “You never heard that before, have you?” I’ve had a knack for picking the next best thing in music. The track record is pretty good for mainstream picks: Pussycat Dolls, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Meghan Trainor, Bebe Rexha. This year, I think Jessie Reyez is going to hit it. Showcasing these artists right before they took off helped build the event into a respectable little festival. Agents started taking notice. When I was first booking larger artists, I didn’t get callbacks from CAA and WME. They take my calls now.
I meditate almost daily, and I study with a spiritual teacher. I ride horses as often as I can. I’m an avid horse camper and take them all over the state and ride out into the wilderness and simply breathe it all in. Oh, I also pack a cold beer on these excursions. Nothing like being hours away from anyone on a very hot day, surrounded by mountains, maybe parked at a remote mountain lake, and then, you remember, “Damn, I have beer in the saddle bag. Cool!”
[I love to talk about] the importance in living a balanced life. I love how millennials are changing their perspective and incorporating balance over money and stature. I was very driven when I was younger. My grandfather was my role model. If I could do it all over again, I would have traveled more, read more, and explored more of what life has to offer. Joy is found in the most simple of things, and wonder is so easily missed. Life is awesome. Be awed.
On Unconventional Passions
My idea of the perfect weekend is actually taking a horse into the high country and living up there for a few days. Scary as all hell but exhilarating at the same time. I’ve only done it once, but I can’t wait to do it again.
On Late Night Ponderings
Oh, I don’t sleep four weeks before The Dinah—happens every year. The Dinah is like this huge machine with so many moving parts, and I lay awake at night wondering what I may have forgotten.
On an esoteric plane, I wonder about life in all its complexities. It’s so seemingly unfair, but is there a master plan, and what is my part in it?
On Sound Advice
Stop evidence-building for what you are not, and start collecting evidence for the greatest part of who you are—and build on that model.