Well, we made it. We got a good scrub down from Tropical Storm Hilary, and some scattered palm tree exfoliation in yards and streets that will be gone by the time you read this.

September is just the warm up — maybe it’s the cool down — to season, so bargains are still in the offing. Consider booking a getaway and take advantage of those pre-season rates. The weather is being a real mensch.

Here’s what’s going on to help you decide when you’re coming, but first, some reminders: Modernism Week October is in … you guessed it, October; Halloween in Palm Springs, specifically on Arenas, needs to be experienced; and Pride is in November. This just in: Adele Dazeem will be headlining! (That’s a John Travolta Oscar joke, folks … for those of you who don’t do the Oscars, in 2014 that’s how Travolta intro’d Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go.“) 

Let’s go!

Looking for something to do over Labor Day weekend? Check out DJ ModGirl pumping out the party at various venues over the weekend and dance the day and night away.

The Dinah is the largest lesbian/queer/non-binary party in the world, and it’s happening Sept. 20-24. I’ve got all the places to stay neatly offered here. DJs and dancers not yet announced, but they ask that you follow their Instagram for all the deets.

Hundreds of women in the audience at a concert at The Dinah in Palm Springs

The crowd at The Dinah. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Acrisure events in September include Cirque du Soleil Corteo and monster trucks.

Reforma has a lot of fun events on top of dining and dancing. Saturdays they have (IMHO) the most creative drag shows around. Beyoncé, Barbie, Taylor Swift, and Britney Spears have all had their drag moments here.

Pretty Faces Nightclub is described by owner Michael as a Pee Wee’s Playhouse kind of club, due to the decor of fairies and mushrooms. Dancing and events.

Cinema Diverse at Palm Springs Cultural Center is in its 16th year. You can read all about the LGBT+ film festival here. That first link gets you tickets. As of this post, the films have not yet been announced.

Mondays are for PS ukulele club @ Hits. It’s a local get together, but I happen to know some out-of-town enthusiasts. Plus, it’s a weed shop, so …

Chill Bar — Not Your Grandma’s Bingo on Saturdays, Varsity Fridays.

Mondays: King’s Highway & Amigo Room give us a double feature with Bella da Ball’s Drag Bingo, followed by her Trivia Night in the Amigo. $30

Sept. 17: Into old Hollywood and new plays? Confessions of a Starmaker is happening at 2 p.m. on the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg stage. Tickets are $100 with a cocktail reception to follow.

PS Underground is back and coming in hot with Light. Check out all their shows, including returning favorites like Dirty Bingo.

The Purple Room has reopened after its summer hiatus with Debby Boone and The Judy Show. There’s free entertainment on weeknights from local favorites Rose Mallett, Sharon Sills, Michael Holmes, Charles Herrera and Darcy Daniels. 6:30 to 9 p.m. Check the website for future ticketed shows.

PS Air Bar — Even if they didn’t have great entertainment, and they do, it’s worth going just for the ambiance. And their California Caesar is unlike any other you’ve had. Delish!

Old airplane seats inside the PS Air bar in Palm Springs, California

Welcome to PS Air. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

V Wine Lounge is a great place to have a glass of wine, beer, or craft cocktail. I had the  specialty blueberry mocktail invented by the lounge’s owner, James, and it was so good! Also, we learned it’s become a lesbian hangout on Mondays and Tuesdays when Leanna and Keisha D take the stage (respectively). It was a learning bonanza for this blogger, because karaoke nights are big with the lesbian crowd, and those ladies can sing! Minimal cover of $10. Check schedule for mo’info mo’events (In Living Color, anyone?).

One of our desert’s most talented and philanthropically inclined songbirds, Keisha D, has four residencies right now. We’ve got V Wine on Tuesdays with her full band of phenomenal players, PS Air Bar on Wednesdays, The Roost (with band) on Thursdays, and Sundays are an intimate evening at Palm Springs Cultural Center (her band will be back with her come October). I cannot encourage you enough — GO! And if you see that she’s doing her Tina Turner show? Grab that ticket ASAP. You don’t want to miss it.

If I don’t see you on the street, I’ll see you in October!

If you’re looking for a one-stop cultural shop for film festivals, a farmers’ market, live performances, arts programs, theater productions, lectures, food, libations, and more, look no further than the Palm Springs Cultural Center. 

Since its grand opening in 2019, the Palm Springs Cultural Center has been dedicated to offering diverse programming, and is certainly catching its stride this year with an impressive 2023 lineup and experiences. The center truly feels like the cultural heartbeat of our community here in the Coachella Valley.

The Camelot Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Cultural Center

The Palm Springs Cultural Center was founded in 2007 by Palm Springs philanthropists Ric and Rozene Supple. In 1999, the Supples bought and refurbished the historic Camelot Theatres building, and operated it as a three-screen complex with a full bar and restaurant. They introduced a list of prestigious events to the community, including Cinema Diverse and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. When the Supples gifted the Camelot Theatres building to the Palm Springs Cultural Center in 2017, they instilled their legacy and lifelong dedication to culture and the arts here in Palm Springs.

Ric and Rozene Supple. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Cultural Center

The newly-minted Palm Springs Cultural Center opened its doors in January 2019, and the PSCC team set out to “incubate, produce, and encourage arts and cultural programs in order to leverage the unique power of creativity to open minds, bridge what divides us, and discover what connects us.” Its diverse programming aimed to inspire learning and deepen the relationships with the local community, and recognized the interconnection between the cultural arts and food culture. After introducing its first theater company and producing its first show, COVID took the world by storm, and like so many others, the Palm Springs Cultural Center had to close its doors. 

Welcome to the Palm Springs Cultural Center. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Cultural Center

However, the Farmers Market continued to operate throughout the pandemic, being deemed a necessary business. A little over a year later, the Palm Springs Cultural Center re-opened, reignited its theater program, and brought live music to the mix. After speaking with Palm Springs Cultural Center Executive Director Michael Green, Nunzio Sisto entered the picture as music program director, introducing classical music and further diversifying both the music and theater programs.

Gregory Douglass performs at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. Photo courtesy of Gregory Douglass

The PSCC team’s ongoing mission for the Farmers’ Market is to serve the community as the only one in the Coachella Valley that matches dollar-for-dollar (up to $15 per person) for those who are in need of food and part of low-income and/or senior food programs. For instance, a family of four may be entitled to $60 worth of matching funds every week. This program echoes the Palm Springs Cultural Center’s dedication to making its programming as accessible as possible for all income levels.

What’s more, the PSCC team also aspires to remain a good community partner, offering its space to organizations in need of a place to gather for meetings or rehearsals, like the Sunrise Park Neighborhood Association, The L-Fund, and the Youth Training Orchestra.

The radical shift to home box office streaming content has changed the game for movie theater-goers over the years. Even major theater chains have suffered, but the Palm Springs Cultural Center has pivoted its focus to revival films and special event screenings, making for more integrated, memorable experiences. A recent Valentine’s Day screening of Moulin Rouge featured curated grazing boxes of special love-themed treats to enjoy throughout the film. In addition, local gay organization Among Friends presents ongoing gay cult classic films that are as immersive as they are entertaining.

The “Moulin Rouge” snack boxes. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Cultural Center

If you’re curious about all that lies ahead, check out the Palm Springs Cultural Center’s 2023 lineup. Highlights include the Glenn Miller Orchestra in music (March 13), Martin Sherman’s GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM in theater (through March 4), Jimmy Dore Live in comedy (March 25), the American Documentary Film Festival in film (March 30 – April 3), and the Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market (each Saturday). There’s also weekly live music upstairs in the lounge, featuring local musicians like Keisha D, Mon Petit Salon with Jeremie Levi, and Leanna & the Jazz Collective.

Leanna & The Jazz Collective. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Cultural Center

Of course, all this diverse programming costs money. The Palm Springs Cultural Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that it relies on the ongoing support of the very community it serves. You can help PSCC by becoming a sustaining member in exchange for enjoying complimentary screenings, member-only discounts, and pre-sale opportunities. You can also make a tax-deductible donation, sign up for the PSCC’s newsletter, and even ​purchase a seat (or several) for yourself and to honor someone else in the community.

The Modern Men’s Gay Chorus performs on stage. Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Cultural Center

Everyone knows it’s always sunny in Palm Springs, but did you know it’s always teeming year round with film festivals too? 

They’re all fantastic and they’re all very different. So, I’m going to tell you about them. But first I’m going to tell you — in other people’s words — why the ones in Palm Springs are always held at the Palm Springs Cultural Center (PSCC).

Beth Fromm, the executive director of the Desert Film Society, says the buzz in the festival community is not only about the very cool space; for filmmakers and cinephiles, it’s about the tech specs that make the viewing so much better than your average screens. The PSCC has “theatrical grade HD digital projection on a 58-foot screen along with great sound — a combo not easy to find at other festivals or cities,” Fromm said. Yes, that’s screens with an “s” as in a cineplex. It’s retro-chic with great memorabilia decorating every space that will have them. 

Alan K. Rode, executive director and curator of the Arthur Lyons Film Festival (now in its 22nd year!), is pretty sweet on the space too. “You have a projection booth that has no equal in terms of capability,” he said. “I think you have to go to Los Angeles to find a projection booth that can project 70mm film, 35mm film, and all manner of both the digital DCP digital control pack, which is the nominal way of projecting films and theaters on the stage, and also physical media projection all in one building.” On top of all that, he added, there are “three theaters, a restaurant, two bars, an elevator and a spiral staircase!”

You heard the man correctly: two bars and a restaurant (sounds vaguely like a Beck song — “two turntables and a microphone…”). Upstairs you’ll find the best of the best local live entertainment on *gasp* weeknights. We have a lot of talent out here, you’re missing out if you haven’t seen any of it.

I could give you a ton more testimonials about the space, but let’s get to those festivals.

Festivals At The Palm Springs Cultural Center

The wildly popular Cinema Diverse celebrating LGBTQ+ films started on Sept. 21 and is running on the weekends through October 1. Click that there link for the full schedule. The festival is dedicated to advancing and further strengthening our diverse gay community through the establishment of a world-class film festival presenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cinema from around the world. Got it? Go!

A banner for Cinema Diverse

Courtesy of Cinema Diverse

Planned Parenthood Women’s Fest — Nov. 12, 2023. As described on its website: “This special event directly benefits Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, raising funds directed toward local programs and services throughout San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties.” Telling women’s stories.

Jewish Film Fest — Stories being told about and by Jews from around the world. They have not yet announced for next year, but last year it was held in March.

Arthur Lyons Film Noir — This fest, founded in 2020 by the late mystery author, “includes acclaimed and obscure black and white ‘B’ movies from the 1940s and 1950s, as well as a few special appearances from some of the stars.” Generally held in May.

Palm Springs International Film Festival — All the big names come in for this huge fest, and it’s quite a production. If there’s a new hot spot in the Coachella Valley in the first week of January, you’ll likely see a celebrity or two dining there. 

Courtesy of the Palm Springs International Film Festival

Palm Springs International ShortFest — Designated by AMPAS, BAFTA, BIFA, and the Goya Awards as an award-qualifying festival, and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, the Palm Springs International ShortFest & Short Film Market is one of the most acclaimed short film showcases in the world.

Desert Film Society  — The Desert Film Society says it “promotes the appreciation of film in the Coachella Valley by providing Society members a unique opportunity to view the latest in art, international, and cutting-edge independent cinema and educating members by providing a platform for discussion of the art of film and film craft.” 

Bow Wow Film Festival — All for the love of dogs. No canine filmmakers that I’m aware of. Held in May last year.

Cinema Français — Feb. 2-4, 2024. New award-winning, French-language films and filmmakers.

Amdocs — March 21-25, 2024. American documentary and animation film festival.

More Festivals

Down Syndrome International Film Festival — Oct. 6, 2023, at Mary Pickford D’Place in Cathedral City.

Yucca Valley Film Festival — In it’s fifth year. Nov. 10-12, 2023

Idyllwild Cinema Festival — March 5-10, 2024. The Hollywood Reporter called it “The Greatest Little Film Festival on Earth.”

And that’s a wrap, folks! See you at the movies.