Did you hear the fire
alarm? Yes, that pulsing, clamorous pull toward the desert?
It's that time again -- Dinah Shore weekend is nearly upon us.
Women around the world are packing their bikinis (and sports
bras) and heading toward a glistening pool for a weekend of
sunshine, libations, and speed-dating.
Years ago, the main
event was the prestigious women's golf tournament named the
Dinah Shore Nabisco Classic. By the mid 1980s, the tournament
was ranked as the top celebrity event on the Ladies
Professional Golf Association Tour, with past winners including
Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, and Annika Sorenstam. Gay
women came in hoards to watch the golf -- then went looking for
social outlets in their down time. Thus sprang up the now
infamous Dinah Shore women's weekend. Now in its 19th year, the
weekend's attendance has swollen to over 15,000
I attended my first
DSWW in 1994aEUR|my junior year of college. I had never seen so
many hot, scantily clad women in one location. I thought I had
arrived in heaven, and proceeded to dance, drink, and stay an
extra two days past the proper event, never mind that it was
finals week at Pepperdine. In subsequent years I stayed at the
main hotel and slowly learned the pace, the promoters, and the
lay of the land.
Sandy Sachs and Robin
Gans are the dual force behind Girl Bar. They
co-created the event nearly two decades ago with Club Skirts
owner Mariah Hanson. These days they each present their own
blown-out weekend. In addition, Los Angeles-based Fuse Events
promoters Michelle Agnew and Linda Fusco are also
hosting a more intimate entertainment option down in the
desert. I spoke to all these ladies to learn how they market,
what they consider their primary draws, and how much you have
to lay down to attend.
Sachs estimates this
year's attendance at their event will be around 6,000, which is
a ton of women, even if it is actually down
considerably from last year. She acknowledged that the
state of the economy has affected ticket sales, but they are
still seeing a good response on VIP packages from their largely
international crowd. By advertising year-round with various
European and Australian women's magazines, they pull in a whole
untapped market of women who tend to make it a vacation and
stay the entire week. They have plans to reach out to Canada
and Mexico in coming years.
Sachs and Gans also
negotiated discounted room rates with their host hotels, the
Zoso and the Wyndham. I asked for details about why someone
would choose one package over the other since they both cost
$899. Sachs said the Zoso is an upscale hotel, which appeals to
the women who want to step in and out of the chaos and enjoy
the serenity of a more boutique hotel. Alternatively, the
Wyndham VIPs want to be at the center of the universe. As the
Girl Bar host hotel, this is where the masses will linger. So
basically, couples go to the Zoso and singles go to the
Girl Bar event
highlights include the pool parties (Friday at Wyndham is free)
and themed evening events. Macy Gray is going to rock the
Jungle Fever Party on Saturday, and Girlicious will carry
Friday night. Additional performers throughout the weekend
include Kat DeLuna, Gretchen Bonaduce, and the Cliks.
"We want this to
be unlike any other experience, so we go out of our way to make
sure people meet each other and have a really good time,"
For Girl Bar's
weekend breakdown, visit
While her party is just
as popular as the Girl Bar event, Mariah Hanson has a slightly
different approach to the weekend.
"Word of mouth is
huge for us," Hanson says. "I've also
partnered with top lesbian clubs across the country who are
throwing advance Dinah parties in cities such as New York,
Chicago, Las Vegas, Seattle, Atlanta, and Miami." Customers
have the chance to win free passes to Dinah. "It's a win for
the promoters and helps me get the word out en masse," Hanson
Her lineup definitely
shines with some A-list heavyweights including Indigo Girls,
Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Uh Huh Her (Leisha Hailey's band).
Hanson says her programming intentionally appeals to a broad
So, how does she select
the artists? Hanson asks event registrants to name their
favorite artist. She then turns this wish list into
her booking list for the following year. She says, "Being at
the tip of the curve is critical."
Hanson has already sold
out the Riviera, which was recently renovated, and is now
booking up the Hilton. But Hanson isn't resting yet. Instead,
she's stepping it up a notch by adding a comedy show with
Margaret Cho and inviting activist groups the Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation and Equality California, for which
she is a board member, to speak to attendees and raise
awareness about marriage and equality rights.
Club Skirts event
details are online at
If the other two Dinah
Shore outlets are like Goliath, Linda Fusco and Michelle
Agnew's Fuse is the David. But they don't see it that way.
They like their events to be intimate, and Fusco says they
actually aim to keep attendance around 500.
In their second year at
the women's weekend, the L.A. club promoters plan to host a
night of their signature West Hollywood club, Truckstop. They
will also have an Ed Hardy poolside fashion show, which is
free, and daily pool parties. Presale tickets to their events
cost only $20 ($40 at the door) and their events run
early, 8-10 p.m., so women can still
attend the other promoters' parties. In addition, they
put together a survival guide, which includes all the other
events happening throughout the weekend.
"We entered the
market nine years ago because there wasn't anything we wanted
to go to," Fusco says. "The parties weren't
our style. We offer a better-quality product and
better-produced event. And we see this as a chance to give back
to our community."
The girls of Fuse also
don't have media or alcohol sponsors or ticket lines. Rather,
the Ace Hotel has only 180 rooms and offers quirky and unique
services, like alcoholic snow cones out of a bus and nightly
meat specials that you can grill on your private patio
fireplace. Fusco calls it "a down-home, sexy
Vegas," and says that with the hammocks, cabanas, and rustic
fireplaces, "it's the kind of place we would own if you
Fuse's full lineup
is viewable at
So there you have it --
three very different promoters offering you one damn good time.
Buy tickets in advance (prices go up on site) and have the
weekend you want. Oh, and rest up. You'll need it.