A monthly column about gay and lesbian travel

The Dinah

by Sasha Alyson

The annual Dinah Shore Women's Weekend in Palm Springs has something for every lesbian.

Above: The Dinah is officially about golf. But parties take up the majority of time for many visitors.



The author: Sasha Alyson is the founder of Alyson Publications, the country's leading publisher of gay and lesbian books. He sold that company in 1995 to start Alyson Adventures, which specializes in active and adventure vacations for gay men and lesbians.



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Gay men have their White Parties. Lesbians have the annual Dinah Shore Women's Weekend, the last weekend of March in Palm Springs, California. This year's dates are Thursday through Sunday, March 26-29, 1998.

The weekend centers on the Nabisco Dinah Shore Golf Classic, but not all the women come for golf. Indeed, with all the parties going on, many will never get close to the golf greens.

In 1997, an estimated 25,000 women showed up for this event, enjoying over 45 shows and theme parties throughout the weekend. The "Dinah" has grown so large that private estates and airplane hangers have been requisitioned for parties, in addition to the usual hotels and clubs.

Many of the festivities are produced by Club Skirts Productions of San Francisco, and L.A.'s Girl Bar. Mariah Hanson, owner of Club Skirts and co-producer of the weekend, enthuses that "this is the largest vacation event for women in the nation. We've had to move to a larger hotel to fit all of our guests into our pool party, which already numbers in the thousands." They've booked two 3-star hotels, the Windham and the Marquee, with around 700 rooms and suites.

Many groups and companies offer package trips, parties or events:

Women in Motion sells a $595 package. This includes 4 nights accommodation, 2 dinners, 4 breakfasts, and a pass for parties at Delilah's nightclub.

Girl Bar/Club Skirts Productions has a Dinah Shore Women's Hotline: 888-44-DINAH. You can book hotels directly and save money by buying tickets to their parties and events in advance, or even more with their "Dinah Shore Party Pass" ($75 by March 10th). Their events include: Thursday night Kickoff Party, Saturday afternoon Queens of Comedy show, Saturday night White Party, Sunday afternoon Pool Party, and Sunday night's final party, Ice House.

Joani Weir Productions' Dinah Shore Hotline is at 310-281-7358. Joani has been putting on events here for 8 or 9 years. They offer an entire week package with hotel and party pass. Last year, in addition to dances, they put on a comedy production, and a cigar-bar, as well as allowing several non-profit groups use of their facilities. This year's events are not finalized yet, but call their hotline for the latest information.

Women not into the golf or the parties, but who want to be in a town full of 25,000 lesbians, can find lots to do in Palm Springs and the surrounding area. For those into the outdoors and sports, there is rock-climbing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and parachuting. You can rent a jeep, or ultralight, or take a helicopter or hot air balloon ride. For a different pace, explore one of the desert botanical gardens, try your luck at one of the casinos on nearby Indian Lands, or check out the town's many museums and art galleries.

There will be more information in "Shore Patrol" a special issue of Palm Springs' gay paper "The Bottom Line". Look for it to appear mid-February at women's businesses and bookstores.

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Sun or Snow? In less than a decade, South Beach has become THE Florida destination for gay men. South Beach is indeed a lively spot, and with its historic and charming art deco buildings. But many guys feel out of place in South Beach if they're not young, rich, and muscled (or at least two of the three).

For a vacation that's less expensive and more laid-back, I still like that old favorite: Ft. Lauderdale. At the high end, Royal Palms Lauderdale (800-237-PALM) is the spot getting the buzz -- as well as a top Editor's Choice award from Out & About magazine. Less known than Royal Palms is its next-door neighbor, St. Sebastian (800-425-8105). At a glance (I haven't actually stayed there) it looks every bit as plush, but prices run about $50 less.

Simpler but quite comfortable accommodations are available at many hotels and apartments. One that comes recommended is Martindale (954-467-1841), where a one-bedroom suite with kitchen runs under $100.

If your winter vacation wouldn't be complete without snow, there's still time to pack your long johns and head for Aspen Gay Ski Week (Jan. 24-31). Ski all day, jump in the hot tub to unwind, then head for the parties. You may be able to get some good rates on last-minute air, and at this writing, you can still get condo accommodations with other gay skiers from B.W. Travel (203-852-0200 or email Wendy522@aol.com), which offers a 5-day ski pass, as well as shared accommodations, for $915.

January, 1998

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Next Month: Hanns Ebensten, the pioneer of gay travel