Get Blissful at Bliss Weekend

Apr 7, 2012 by

Get Blissful at Bliss Weekend

by Heather Cassell

A fall getaway was just the ticket for Christine De La Rosa, better known as Miz Chris, when she dreamed up Bliss, an all-women of color weekend vacation packed with fun, rejuvenation, and relaxation at California’s popular desert resort Palm Springs.

For the past three years, nearly 250 women from all over the world head to the desert during the first weekend of October, September 30 – October 3.

Unwinding and relaxing doesn’t equal boredom. The San Francisco club promoter, Christine doesn’t leave the entire party in the Bay Area, she takes the best of it on the road.

In 2011 she lined up comedian Saundra Valls, burlesque performer the Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins, and DJs Lady Ryan and Val G to rock the pool parties and the annual White Party.

The women of Bliss look forward to “being on a vacation, not just a party weekend,” says Christine. “This is more of a vacation. They are coming in to relax and they want to have fun  and party, but really want to relax.”

Bliss guests enjoy the pool. (Photo: Courtesy of Movement Productions)

Bliss guests enjoy the pool. (Photo: Courtesy of Movement Productions)

Three years ago Provincetown in Massachusetts was the only place that hosted a women of color weekend and there were few vacations that catered to women of color, in particular lesbian and bisexual women of color outside of Olivia Travel’s Sisters at Sea and Sisters at Play, the women of color cruise and resort vacations package offered by the popular lesbian travel company.

Movement maker

A little over three years ago, Christine was a 30-something newly minted Californian. She just moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Texas to team up with her business partner and then girlfriend Olga Texidor, better known around the Bay Area as DJ Olga T.

Christine, was known best for her organizing chutzpah with the Femme Collective, a group of women who put on the biennially Femme Conference, and the Femmes of Color Symposium, a biennially conference for women of color who identify as femme.

The two women quickly became late night powerhouses in the Bay Area’s women’s club scene as the forces behind Movement Productions, a nightlife production and promotion company.

Movement Productions is responsible for Eden in the Bay, the women’s Pride event that coincides with San Francisco Pride, Fire and Ice, San Jose’s women’s Pride party, and the inferno in the women’s club scene producing Hot Box (currently on hiatus), a weekly women’s dance party, and other parties such as Afterglow, Good Times, Tease, and more in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.

All play all of the time, who needed a vacation? Vacay still wasn’t a part of De La Rosa’s vocabulary, nor people close to her. Vacations were for other people who had time to get out of the daily grind. The value of rejuvenation and relaxation was lost on Christine and she isn’t alone. Many of the people she knows often felt uncomfortable and even unwelcome in certain environments.

Blissful

She finally hit enlightenment after accompanying DJ Olga T, one of Olivia’s guests DJs, during a Sisters at Play vacation.

“I didn’t know what I was missing and that is something that I think is really important because sometimes we miss stuff because we might feel uncomfortable like that’s not a place for us,” says Christine, about the discomfort women feel when they exit their comfort zones and feelings of being unwelcome in certain settings that limit them from experiencing new things.

Inspired and renewed after the trip, she says, “I want more women of color to have the opportunity to experience that level of comfort and ease.”

Body art and relaxation at Bliss in Palm Springs. (Photo: Courtesy of Movement Productions)

Body art and relaxation at Bliss in Palm Springs. (Photo: Courtesy of Movement Productions)

Seeing a void, having her finger on the pulse women of color’s desires, and inspiration still wasn’t enough to launch Christine into action. She needed a gentle nudge that came from Joe Hawkins, party promoter and chair of Oakland Pride, who produces Blatino Oasis, a gay men of color weekend in Palm Springs. In 2009, Christine took the plunge and Bliss was born.

Groove thang

Christine is known for bring women together in upscale environments and providing quality entertainment around the Bay Area. It’s been her trademark since her arrival in Oakland in early 2009.

She was shocked by the diversity and segregation among communities when she arrived in the Bay Area. She was double shocked by the state women’s bars, clubs, and parties had fallen into since Mariah Hanson, founder of San Francisco-based Girl Spot and Club Skirts, headed to the desert to hook up and break up with the Dinah Shore Weekend promoters Robin Gans and Sandy Sachs of Los Angele’s Girlbar fame.

Hanson formed The Dinah and is now queen of the California desert as of this year. Robin and Sandy moved their Dinah Shore Weekend, half of the largest and longest running all-women party weekend, to Las Vegas in 2012.

Far enough away from the dyke drama-rama and the electro pulse of Dinah Shore Weekend, Christina’s intimate gathering is alive with the sounds of R&B, Hip Hop, Salsa, Latin beats, and House music. The weekend embraces and celebrates the diversity of the queer women’s community. The women keep coming back for more, Christina says.

Bliss guests partying the night away. (Photo: Courtesy of Movement Productions)

Bliss guests partying the night away. (Photo: Courtesy of Movement Productions)

“I’m tired of people feeling uncomfortable in all white or all women of color places,” says Christina, who has made it her personal mission to create spaces where all women feel comfortable no matter race, size, ability, and more.

“We are a part of this bigger sisterhood,” she adds, pointing out that it’s not about gay, straight, black, white that the bottom line is that as women we don’t know how to unwind. Furthermore, we feel guilty for taking time for ourselves, she continues.

“We are always doing something. When can you unplug?” she asks, wondering if women will ever see that taking a time out is “an incredible thing” that isn’t “frivolous and bad.”

It looks like women are getting it the first year the long weekend getaway attracted 150 women and was sponsored by Curve Magazine and Olivia Travel. The following year the intimate weekend vacation nearly doubled and brought women from all over the globe. In 2011, Bliss took over the Canyon Club Hotel.

Bliss is growing and other women of color weekends, such as Paradise in Puerto Rico, are emerging.

To contract an original article, purchase reprints or become a media partner, contact editor [@] girlsthatroam [.] com.

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