By Megan Wadding, April 2016 Issue.
Celebrating 26 years, the “largest girl party music festival in the world” returns to Palm Springs for a star-studded weekend March 30-April 3.
Formally known around the globe as Club Skirts presents The Dinah, the annual music festival and pool party event will take place at the Hilton Hotel, the Palm Springs Convention Center and other venues throughout Palm Springs.
This year’s line-up includes two-time Grammy nominee Elle King, “Orange is the New Black” stars DJ Taryn Manning and comedian Lea DeLaria, celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson, “The L Word” star Kate Moennig and Uh Huh Her’s lead singer Camila Grey (who together form The X-Names), international top model Madison Paige, pop newcomer JoLivi, pansexual- and agender-identified rapper Angel Haze and the all-female power pop/punk band, and“The Real L Word” Season 3 cast members, Hunter Valentine.
According to Mariah Hanson, the event’s founder and producer, The Dinah has grown into something much larger than she originally envisioned.
“It will always be a music festival and world-renowned event for women where you can see the next big thing in music,” Hanson said. “We’ve created a unique niche in the music festival circuit that has become widely respected. It’s exciting for me to produce the event knowing that my customers are going to see at least one act they will never again see in such a relatively intimate venue.”
This year, Hanson said the focus was on celebrity DJs.
“Dinah is always celebrity-packed, but this year you get to see them in action at what they love doing,” Hanson said. “The line-up is one of our best to date and should be a thrill for our attendees to see their favorite celebs in action. I can say I am excited beyond words that they all agreed to join our line up and that they are going to bring it!”
While women from all over the world descend on Palm Springs for this event, Hanson said Arizona is always well represented.
“We love our Arizona attendees and see more and more coming every year,” Hanson said. “Thousands of people come from all over the world to attend The Dinah and it just keeps on growing and expanding … once you’ve come, you realize there is nothing else like it anywhere.”
Every Night is Ladies Night
While the weekend itinerary kicks off March 30, attendees will not want to miss the “Hot as L” pool party March 31, which will feature appreances by some of the ladies from Showtime’s hugely popular lesbian drama series and reality TV show, “The L Word” and “The Real L Word,” including Elizabeth Keener, Clementine Ford and Tracy Reyerson and a performance by Hunter Valentine. Leisha Hailey and Kate Moennig will also make appearances throughout the weekend.
“Showtime has been a great friend to the lesbian community and to The Dinah,” Hanson said. “The actresses attending are some of the [fan] favorites and will be on hand throughout the weekend to join in The Dinah festivities.”
Later that night, the famous White Party takes place at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The evening will feature a full performance by headliner Elle King at 9 p.m. followed by all of the weekend’s “celesbians” walking the red carpet at 10:30 p.m. and Madonna’s DJ Mary Mac will start spinning at 11 p.m.
As part of Wet & Wild Pool Party, April 1, The Dinah’s third annual Battle of the DJs will feature contestants from across the country going head-to-head on the turntables beginning at noon. The newly formed X-Names, including DJs Cam Grey and Kate Moennig, will perform at 4 p.m.
That night, attendees are invited to the Hollywood Party – the largest of the weekend – at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
“[The Hollywood Party] is a recurrence of a popular theme we’ve used in the past. People will be amazed at how many famous people attend the party. The red carpet will be one of our best,” Hanson said. “We brought it back because we have so many famous people attending this year, many of whom we have not yet announced. It’s a celebrity-studded year.”
The Hollywood Party will also include a performance by Angel Haze and the music of DJ Samantha Ronson.
“Samantha Ronson is one of the premiere celebrity DJs, but she’s also the real deal,” Hanson said. “Our crowd is going to be blown away at her talent, energy and presence.”
Conveniently taking place at the same venue as the Hollywood Party is the Comedy Show night with host Lea DeLaria of “Orange is the New Black” fame. The show starts at 9 p.m.
The Wet & Wild Pool Party, which takes place April 3, will feature the final round of the Battle of the DJs and performances by Madison Paige and DJ Taryn Manning, star of “Orange is the New Black.”
“I’m especially thrilled to present [Taryn Manning] in a format that compliments this event so well. You rarely find such a talented actress [who] is also a DJ. What a perfect fit for The Dinah. Her performance is going to be a highlight of the weekend,” said Hanson.
The weekend wraps up on Sunday night with the official closing party featuring a performance by JoLivi.
“We have put together the most exciting Dinah line up ever. Everyone we asked said yes, and as a result we have the most star-studded, talented Dinah ever,” Hanson said. “If I could only pick one Dinah to attend, it would be this year. It’s going to be a supreme year.”
For more information, visit thedinah.com.
DJ Mary Mac returns to Palm Springs
Ahead of her second consecutive trip to Palm Springs to spin at Club Skirts The Dinah, New York-based DJ Mary Mac’s gave Echo a sneak peek at what her set will be like and what inspires her.
Echo: Are you excited to be coming back to the Dinah this year?
DJ Mary Mac: I’m absolutely excited to come back. I was so happy when I got called to come back.
Echo: How would you describe your set?
DJ Mary Mac: High energy, fun, putting your hands in the air screaming like just don’t care.
Echo: What is your normal schedule like?
DJ Mary Mac: I spin a lot for lesbian events in New York City and all over the country.
Echo: How would people who’ve seen you spin would describe you?
DJ Mary Mac: They would say Mary Mac is full of energy. I’m dancing with the record. It’s all about energy for me. I could play a song you hear every day, but when you hear me play it, you’ll be like holy sh*t. That’s how I like to play.
Echo: What inspires you?
DJ Mary Mac: The crowd always inspires me, even the non-dancers. People that aren’t smiling are what get me doing. By the end of the night they’re dancing and drinks are in the air. If people walk in with a negative attitude, I like to change that. I like that challenge. I smile back and forth with people. I really like to see the crowd go wild.
Echo: What projects are you currently working on?
DJ Mary Mac: I’ll be coming out with a single real soon. It’ll be from my new EP and the first single will be "Put Your Hands Up." I do a thing called “party rap,” where I’m not trying to be a lyricist or anything like that, but I say stuff, kind of like a Pitbull thing, but less lyrical. You’ll be hearing my vocals. I have the songs almost done, but it’s all about me having the confidence to put it out and stop holding on to my stuff. I want to let it go and I’ll be putting it out hopefully in the summer. I’m also doing a CD with remixes of all of my favorite Madonna songs.
Hunter Valentine to headline Club Skirts The Dinah weekend
Hunter Valentine has captivated audiences with four successful releases, unparalleled energetic live performances across the world, and their unforgettable personalities on Showtime’s “The Real L Word.”
Having announced their indefinite hiatus, the band is set to launch their EP, The Pledge, and embark on new tour for a last hoorah with their unwavering supporters. The Dinah is their last scheduled stop.
“Hunter Valentine has been a popular act at The Dinah and we are more than proud to produce their final concert,” said Mariah Hanson, founder and producer of The Dinah.
Echo caught up with founding band member, Kiyomi McCloskey, to find out more about the band’s hiatus.
Echo: Are you excited to be playing The Dinah again this year?
McCloskey: Absolutely! It is always a great time.
Echo: How many times have you performed at The Dinah? What’s your favorite part?
McCloskey: We’ve played three times and I’ve hosted once.
Echo: You’re making a lot of stops in a relatively short period of time. How did you decide what cities to include?
McCloskey: We are hitting all of our usual spots. We wanted to make sure that we played as many cities as possible before taking this break.
Echo: For this tour, will you do a blend of new and old music?
McCloskey: We are playing music from every single record that we have recorded. We will also be playing the new record front to back.
Echo: What can you tell me about Hunter Valentine’s new EP, The Pledge?
McCloskey: It’s a well-rounded pop record, with big rock songs and a couple of lovely [little] ballads.
Echo: Did you know while making it that it would be Hunter Valentine’s last?
McCloskey: Yeah, we knew this would be our last effort for now. The record has a bittersweet sound and theme to it because of that.
Echo: The big question is, why the hiatus? And why now? How did you know it was time?
McCloskey: We have been a band for over 11 years and we just wanted some time to explore what we are capable of as individuals. We also wanted the time to do this without our fans waiting for the next Hunter Valentine move.
Echo: What is your plan for after the tour finishes up? Will you then focus on your solo stuff?
McCloskey: I am going write and record a solo record when I get back from this tour. I like to keep busy and I still have a lot to say in music, it’s just going to be from a different voice that is not Hunter … I’m going to get right into the studio and start writing. I’ve also been working on a podcast and writing in other forms that are not music.
Echo: Can you share any additional details of your upcoming solo project?
McCloskey: I am not sure what I will be calling this side/solo project, but I am really excited about it. I spent a lot of time in Nashville writing with different artists. I also have been writing with Lisa Bianco [guitar player of Hunter] and Tom Thacker [Sum 41]. I can’t wait to see what my musical future holds for me.
Echo: What is Laura’s plan after the tour?
McCloskey: Laura’s plan is to get back into cooking. She is even talking about going to work on a farm!
Echo: What do you want Hunter Valentine fans to know going forward?
McCloskey: We couldn’t have done this without them and we are extremely grateful for everything they have given us. The last decade of my life was awesome because of Hunter’s supporters and that is something that you never forget. We love you!