PALM SPRINGS

CAR­RIE LYELL TICKS THE WORLD’S BIG­GEST GIRL PARTY OFF HER BUCKET LIST AND FALLS FOR PALM SPRINGS

Diva (UK) - - Welcome | Contents - Car­rie’s trip was pro­vided by Palm Springs Tourism and Nor­we­gian.

Home to the world’s big­gest girl party – and much more

Di­nah Shore has been on my les­bian bucket list ever since that episode of The L Word aired back in 2004. So when the op­por­tu­nity to go to Palm Springs for the big­gest girl party in the world came knock­ing, I was pack­ing my bags faster than you can say “Who killed Jenny?”

I wasn’t the only one with Di­nah Shore on my bucket list. My friend Ania, a self- con­fessed L Word su­per­fan, has wanted to go for years, so when I men­tioned my trip over a cou­ple of drinks, she de­cided then and there that she’d be com­ing too.

So, with reluc­tant ap­proval from our wives, we set out plan­ning an epic ad­ven­ture that Ilene Chaiken would be proud of, but with a lit­tle less Jenny Schecter…

Our Di­nah ex­pe­ri­ence be­gan with the open­ing party at Zelda’s night­club. I feel like I’m newly out again, walk­ing into a gay club for the first time like a baby les­bian to the slaugh­ter. We ar­rive late, far too sober, and the party is al­ready in full swing. Be­fore I can even get a drink from the bar, a woman has bent me over and is pre­tend­ing to pen­e­trate me with what looks like a rain­bow lightsabre, while a go-go dancer thrusts her bum in my face. In the Di­nah episode of The L Word, the dearly de­parted J Schecter said she’d “never seen such de­bauch­ery in my whole life” and as I take my­self off to the bath­room to re­cover, I find my­self agree­ing with her.

We wake up the next morn­ing with foggy mem­o­ries of the night be­fore, but there’s no time to wal­low in our hang­overs – we’ve got a pool party to get to. So, filled with a mix­ture of car­bo­hy­drates and micheladas, we head over to the Hil­ton, and it’s like noth­ing I’ve ever seen be­fore. Women of all ages, gen­der pre­sen­ta­tions, colours, shapes and sizes, let­ting go of their in­hi­bi­tions and hav­ing fun in a di­verse par­adise. Any self- con­scious­ness I felt about my body quickly evap­o­rated as we drank, danced and frol­icked in the pool. Wet and wild, yes – what hap­pens at the Di­nah stays at the Di­nah – but it was also safe, in­clu­sive and life-af­firm­ing.

The week­end con­tin­ued in much the same fash­ion, and while I wor­ried I wouldn’t have the stamina to keep par­ty­ing, the en­ergy all around us was in­fec­tious, and I found my­self danc­ing un­til the wee small hours and laugh­ing un­til my sides hurt with our new friends. Mariah Han­son, founder of the Di­nah, told me that women leave feel­ing “pro­foundly moved, deeply touched and com­pletely trans­formed and em­pow­ered”, and while I was scep­ti­cal be­fore­hand, she’s def­i­nitely right. The Di­nah was a truly mag­i­cal and un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence and one that ev­ery queer woman should en­joy at least once in her life.

But if les­bian Spring Break isn’t your bag, there’s plenty to see and do in Palm Springs for the girl who likes girls.

No won­der, when the city has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of same-sex cou­ples in the US, and es­ti­mates put the LGBT pop­u­la­tion at one third. Red Jeep Tours’ ( red-jeep.com) Bob Gross, who took us on a fas­ci­nat­ing ex­pe­di­tion through the ge­o­log­i­cal cuts and canyons of the San An­dreas Fault, was more gen­er­ous than that, claim­ing that as many as half of the res­i­dents of Palm Springs are “friends of Dorothy”, and as well as en­ter­tain­ing us with sto­ries of the plants, an­i­mals, ge­ol­ogy and his­tory of the Cal­i­for­nia desert, he also gave us a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the LGBT his­tory of Palm Springs. All while mak­ing sure we made it out of the desert in one piece, de­spite a nail-bit­ing en­counter with a rat­tlesnake and one of the worst wind­storms in re­cent his­tory, which brought down trees and pow­er­lines across the re­gion. Thanks, Bob!

We spent a lot of time eat­ing our­selves silly at restau­rants, many of them gay- owned, in­clud­ing Zin Amer­i­can Bistro, Rio Azul, the Draughts­man (I can’t stop think­ing about you, pou­tine) and Pho 533 ( 533vi­et­fu­sion.com). A real high­light of our trip, own­ers Chad and Brian made sure we had no room for dessert, filling us with de­lights in­clud­ing Viet­namese-style na­chos, chicken lemon­grass meat­balls, tiger shrimp won­tons and more. A par­tic­u­lar high­light were the spicy tuna rolls and the ve­gan mush­room soba rolls, hand rolled to or­der from the spring roll bar menu, and the “Ba Mahn Ga” fried chicken, soaked overnight in gar­lic brine and fried in corn­meal with Asian sea­son­ings. De­li­cious.

One of my high­lights was feed­ing gi­raffes (fun fact: their tongues are 17 inches long) at the re­mark­able Liv­ing Desert Zoo and Gar­dens ( liv­ingdesert. org) and learn­ing about how plants and an­i­mals have adapted to the arid cli­mate of the desert. I did have the worst hayfever ever, but it was worth it.

And an­other high point of our trip (lit­er­ally) was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ( pstramway.com), the world’s largest ro­tat­ing tram­car, tak­ing vis­i­tors on a breath­tak­ing jour­ney up Chino Canyon to Mount Jac­into. At 8,516 feet high, it’s not one for the faint-hearted. I’ve never been par­tic­u­larly both­ered by heights be­fore, but I was cling­ing onto Ania for dear life as the tram­car swung past each post on the 10 minute as­cent. Thank­fully, the views from the moun­tain sta­tion more than made up for the weak knees and white knuck­les, and once I’d re­cov­ered from the sheer ter­ror, we took ad­van­tage of some of the 50 miles of hik­ing trails. Top tip: bring some­thing warm to wear, as the tem­per­a­ture at the top can be 30- 40 de­grees cooler than in the desert below. Ania was def­i­nitely re­gret­ting only bring­ing flip flops, but there’s some­thing pretty spe­cial about hav­ing desert sand and moun­tain snow between your toes in the same day.

So there you have it. I’ve ticked Di­nah Shore off my bucket list, and fallen in love with every­thing Palm Springs has to of­fer, in­clud­ing the peo­ple. My wife still hasn’t for­given me for go­ing with­out her but at least she hasn’t left me for a car­pen­ter called Can­dace. Yet.

The Di­nah is a mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence that ev­ery queer woman should en­joy once in her life

Af­ter the pool party there’s plenty to do in and around Palm Springs

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