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This Is What It's Really Like To Go To The Biggest Party For Queer Women In The Country

Yes, it was exactly like The L Word.

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Hi, we're Branson and Sarah. When we recently had the opportunity to attend one of the largest annual queer party in the country — Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, California — we decided to dress the part.

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BuzzFeed

Sarah: I can't pull off that bandana.

Branson: I totally rocked that hat.

And if you're a queer human like us, you might have learned about Dinah Shore from the first season of the now iconic series The L Word — don't be shy, it gave so many people their first queer education.

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But, how accurate was that episode?

We set off to Palm Springs for the 27th annual Dinah Shore to see what the real Dinah experience was like — don’t worry, we took plenty of photos.

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When we first arrived at the Hilton Hotel we did not look as cool, calm, and collected as the L Word crew did.

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But we did try very, very hard.

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But when we first stepped out into the heat of the pool deck, Jenny goddamn Schecter took the words right out of our mouths:

Truly, an entire hotel and pool-deck full of queer people of all shapes and sizes.
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Truly, an entire hotel and pool-deck full of queer people of all shapes and sizes.

The pool is in the center of the action, while the stage is set off to the side with headlining performers. Go-go dancers were stationed on high podiums throughout the pool deck.

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At first, it was extremely overwhelming.

Sarah Karlan for BuzzFeed

There was a ton of ~ merch ~ for sale and a lot of it was covered with rainbows.

Sarah Karlan for BuzzFeed

You could also buy a hat that said pretty much anything.

(We passed on the t-shirts, but felt very Shane anyway.)

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BuzzFeed

On The L Word, they depicted the pool party as being pretty tame. There were women splashing around on floaties, casually sipping drinks, and having an overall chill time.

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In reality, the pool party was more like, "Hello anxiety, my old friend."

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Couples making out, randos making out, people dancing, people drinking, people clinging to pool floaties for their goddamn lives.

And not to be the ~mom~ of the party, but that many intoxicated queer women in a pool seemed like we were asking for disaster. Luckily, everyone seemed to stick to the shallow end.

Sarah Karlan for BuzzFeed

And, as much as it pains me to say it, Tina was right — it was very loud.

Vibrating-the-windows-of-the-hotel loud.

When we glanced up at the balconies surrounding the pool, we noticed some people had carefully hand-crafted signs just for the occasion.

How thoughtful!

How thoughtful!

Once the initial shock of the crowd wore off, we actually began to enjoy ourselves — just as everyone else seemed to be.

Smiles everywhere you looked.

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One of our biggest reservations going into Dinah Weekend was that it wouldn't be inclusive or welcoming to the trans and nonbinary community — as it is largely an event targeted towards queer women. But we were quickly impressed by how inclusive and positive the space was.

Branson: As soon as we walked into the pool area, I saw this person with top surgery scars and I got really excited and hopeful for the weekend. It was great to see how welcoming people were, especially in a space where people’s bodies are on display. Seeing people being unapologetically themselves actually gave me the confidence to not bind that weekend, and still feel comfortable in my own skin. I talked to the person with top surgery later, and they said everyone has been really welcome and open.
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Branson: As soon as we walked into the pool area, I saw this person with top surgery scars and I got really excited and hopeful for the weekend. It was great to see how welcoming people were, especially in a space where people’s bodies are on display.

Seeing people being unapologetically themselves actually gave me the confidence to not bind that weekend, and still feel comfortable in my own skin. I talked to the person with top surgery later, and they said everyone has been really welcome and open.

The event wasn’t only diverse in terms of gender identity, but in terms of other demographics, too, including age. We weren't the oldest or youngest people there by a long shot.

Sarah Karlan for BuzzFeed
Sarah Karlan for BuzzFeed

Sarah: Seeing all the older queer women was weirdly emotional for me? They were all super friendly and open to mingling with us youths. Clearly, I don't get enough older queer representation in my life, because the sight of a middle-age couple dancing on the pool deck made me want to happy-cry. It was tangible evidence that there is a future for me that involves growing old(er) with my girlfriend — sometimes you just need that reminder.

Walking around the scorching pool deck in the blazing desert sun surrounded by other humans was pretty much immediately exhausting. It was time to wrap up day one.

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High noon, aka hot mess o'clock.

When we got back to our Airbnb we were totally exhausted (did I mention we woke up at 5 am to drive out here?) but there was no time for snoozing — we had the night party to get to.

Shower, nap, rally. That seemed to be name of the Dinah game.

The "white party" (which was actually the Pink Pussy party this year, in keeping with the year's theme of empowering women), was exactly like The L Word. You'll have to take our word for it since we couldn't take much footage at the party.

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White curtains draped off the VIP section and there were multiple levels with bars scattered throughout so you wouldn't go long without a drink. The dance floor was packed well before midnight.

Instead of calling our exes like Jenny, we split a pizza and called it a night early.

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Ah, and Branson may have borrowed a crown from the photobooth.

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When the sun rose for day two, we had already been through the gauntlet once — we were ready this time.

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Sunscreen, water-proof makeup, more sunscreen.

We hung out in the lobby to chat with some guests as they came in, hoping to find out what brings thousands of women to Dinah each year.

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Some couples were there to celebrate, some single people were there to mingle — everyone seemed to have a different answer.

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This couple was on holiday from England and had just tied the knot in Vegas! Jolly good.

We soon learned we were not the only first-timers.

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But there were also some Dinah veterans in the mix.

So it turns out, Dinah is whatever you make it.

It can be a weekend full of partying, a scratch off your bucket list, or simply a place to enjoy being seen and understood by so many other queer people.

At the end of the weekend, we left Palm Springs sunburned and exhausted but full of pride thanks to all the powerful, badass queer people we met during the trip.

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So, would you Dinah?

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