At the beginning of the summer, I took off to Palm Springs for some rest and relaxation.
That’s one of the main things you do in the California desert. That’s if you are not enjoying the great outdoors, checking out the mid-century architecture, going to a music festival (like the now famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival), or at one of the legendary LGBTQ parties, like The Dinah and the White Party.
If you are like me, I was at the pool cooling off under the shade of an umbrella. sunglasses on, with a good drink and book after a long dip in the water shortly after I landed in Palm Springs.
I only spent a part of my trip at the pool. I was out to rediscover Palm Springs. This was my first time back in the California desert city in a long time. Things had changed — and not only because of the pandemic. Palm Springs has seen some new resorts, including new restaurants, tours, and most notably, its first new boutique gay resort in more than a decade, Descanso.
“We’re very lucky we get a lot of big awesome event[s] … that take the town over for a weekend. It’s fun,” said Kent Taylor, the gay general manager of Descanso.
What I discovered is Palm Springs is gayer than ever. Now is a great time to plan a trip to the California desert to see what’s new, revisit old favorites, and relax by the pool.
“The White Party this past year … was probably the best it has been in 10 years,” said Taylor. “People were thrilled.”
If the White Party’s May comeback after a pandemic hiatus is any indication, The Dinah will be incredible when it returns for its 31st year next month.
The event that turns Palm Springs into a women’s paradise with upwards of 15,000 queer women from around the globe switched seasons from spring to fall. It is happening September 21-25.
The Dinah producer Mariah Hanson is bringing an incredible musical lineup, with ‘80s pop star Taylor Dayne (“Tell it to My Heart”) headlining the event for the second time. She will be joined by a host of emerging queer women artists Fletcher, Haviah Mighty, Cassidy King, IV4, Zolita, and Siena Liggins, who will be rocking stages while women bump and groove at the famous pool parties.
Back out on the road touring with her 2020 album “Please,” Dayne said she’s looking forward to heading back to the “iconic event” and to Palm Springs in general.
“I love it there and I’m so looking forward to it, ladies,” said the pop star. “It’s going to be such a scene.”
Emerging lesbian singer Siena Liggins said she is “super excited to be playing at The Dinah” this year.
Performing at the famous women’s weekend has been a goal for Liggins, who has never been to the event or Palm Springs.
“I’ve been really looking forward to this,” Liggins told Gay City News. She hopes that The Dinah crowd will experience “a bit of euphoria” during her performance. Liggins might even drop some new songs she’s been working on.
“I’m hoping that we all get to dance and laugh and sweat a bit with each other. I think that’ll be fun,” she said.
When Liggins is not on stage, she’s simply looking to “just have some fun, meet some really cool people” and eat “some good food.”
The White Party kicked off the summer festivities in May. The famed men’s party is gearing up for its 2023 event, May 12-14. Early bird tickets are on sale now.
The fun in the desert doesn’t stop at The Dinah. The fall is packed with LGBTQ events from Cinema Diverse, the valley’s LGBTQ film festival (September 15-25), Palm Springs Leather Pride Weekend (October 27-30), Palm Springs Halloween (October 30), and the desert’s pride weekend (November 4-6).
Palm Springs event producer Jeff Hocker expects upward of 1,500 people to turn out at this year’s Palm Springs Pride opening party. The weekend kicks off with a “first of its kind” fantasy party at the Four Twenty Bank with DJs and live performances. Tickets are not on sale yet. For more information, contact Jeff Hocker Productions at [email protected] or text 760-409-1530.
Hocker called the party an “exotic fantasy ball.”
“This event will be unique in its scope in that it will be geared towards leather, fetish, and fantasy,” Hocker said, adding that it is a private event so “people can get a little scandalous in their clothes.”
More than a party
During my trip, I headed up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Mount San Jacinto State Park for an afternoon hike. I also went on a great gay history and architecture tour with gay tour guide Kurt Cyr, owner of Palm Springs Mod Squad tours. The most interesting tour I went on was CannaBus Express Tours. Led by LGBTQ-friendly owner and tour guide Lynne Daniels, I learned about Palm Springs’ newest industry, cannabis. The tour ended at the largest cannabis entertainment and lounge dispensary in Southern California, the Four Twenty Bank.
Palms Springs is known for its mid-century architecture. It is also known for its gay resorts.
The city’s newest gay resort is the charming and intimate Descanso. Its sister property, the equally stylish Santiago, is on the East side of town where there are many gay resorts, such as Inndulge Palm Springs and the Triangle Inn. Descanso’s spacious 14-rooms’s décor echo the area’s mid-20th century modernist décor and desert hues. The resort also sports a heated saltwater pool, serves healthy breakfast options, and provides quality service.
I was a guest of the Alcazar Palm Springs on the West side of Palm Springs. The charming boutique resort is a sanctuary, and for breakfast lovers like me, it is next to one of the city’s most popular brunch spots, Cheeky’s.
Both resorts offer easy access to the trendy Uptown Design District and downtown Palm Springs, where there are plenty of restaurants and shops.