Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Because we want you to get to know us better, we're turning this blog over to our staff members so they can share with you their own stories about what The Dinah represents for them and how it has changed their lives.

Today, our publicist, MONA ELYAFI, breaks the news about her own Dinah experience! 

"They say “things happen for a reason” and I never really fully grasped the meaning of it until the Dinah came into my life.

The first time I ever attended the Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs was in 1999.  Back then I was on disability suffering from severe back pain and just a few months shy from undergoing a major back surgery. It was also the early phase of my coming out and evidently I was still very confused about this whole lesbian thing.

To be honest, I was more afraid of what my family, my friends and society would say about it.   I come from a rather complex cultural/religious background with a Catholic mother and a Muslim dad, so needless to say, I was mentally struggling with the idea, and still trying to figure out what was the right thing to do morally speaking.

So how did I find myself at The Dinah?
Well, simply because a few of my friends got tired of me complaining about my back pain all the time and thought that a little escapade in the sunny oasis bathing in a sea of women would be a good distraction. 

Now I’ll confess that instead of checking out all these gorgeous women, I actually spent the entire time staring at everybody lower back and wondering what it was like to be able to walk, dance and move pain free.

But although I might have missed out on some potentially successful cruising action, The Dinah gave me something much more valuable. It showed me that I was not the only one – that there was a huge community of women out there who were exactly like me and that made me feel safe. It was such a freeing experience.

Ironically for someone who was mortified to go in the first place and very much on the fence about spending 5 days with a bunch of lesbians, I ended up crying like a baby when we left.  I just didn’t want to go back to my reality.
It was the same nostalgic sadness as when I used to come back from summer camp.

Cut to 2006. By then I was fully healed and had successfully resumed my PR career.
So there I were attending The Dinah in Palm Springs for the second time, although this time I was not a customer but a publicist attending an “industry” function with a client! I’ll skip all the professional details of my attendance and jump right into the personal juicy stuff: I fell in love!

Yep, as cheesy as it sounds, my second Dinah is where I met my (now) ex-girlfriend and discovered the meaning of being so insanely, truly, madly, deeply, and obsessively in love.  Of course two years later she dumped my booty and brutally broke my inconsolable heart into pieces.

As much as going through this breakup was/is the worse pain I have ever known (believe me the back surgery was nothing in comparison), again the Dinah provided for another life-changing experience for me: it not only confirmed what and who I now know I truly am, but it also made it psychologically and morally OK for me to be gay because I finally realized that I could only have that kind of connection with a woman.  

Suffice to say that getting over the breakup was excruciatingly painful. I spent the bulk of 2008 trying to convince myself that this was not the end of my world and buried myself into my work. I just needed to distract my mind from the usual mind-torturing questions “Where is she?”, “Who is she with?”, “What is she doing?”, “has she already forgotten about me?”, etc.

Clearly the universe heard my cry for help (or maybe it felt sorry for me) because out of the blue I got a phone call from Mariah Hanson (founder and producer of Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs), wanting to meet with me to discuss my potentially handling the PR campaign for The Dinah 2009.

Long story short, ten years after my first Dinah ever, I was back at The Dinah but this time I was attending as not only a new member of the Dinah Team but also as the new publicist.  That was HUGE for me - especially considering that was the year Mariah had booked Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

But in spite of the colossal amount of work that was involved in handling an event of that magnitude, and in spite of the prestige of working with international superstars like Gaga and Perry, what really and profoundly affected me was how the entire team (from the top down) so graciously welcomed me into the Dinah family. 

For the first time I felt like I finally belonged somewhere and was part of something bigger than me; something that was genuinely making a difference not just for me but also for so many others.   Such a priceless feeling!

The Dinah holds a very special place in my heart. Being from France where to date my parents still live, what Club Skirts The Dinah has accomplished for me is become my substitute family.

 Share with us your own special Dinah moment! 
Email us your story at: Info@TheDinah.com


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