In 1997, Patrick Grady was the director of catering for the Washington Plaza and was a little unprepared when Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend was held at his hotel.
“I ordered extra cordials thinking that [the attendees] would want fancy cocktails,” Grady says. “It didn’t take long to learn my mistake. It’s definitely a beer and vodka crowd.”
Grady recalls that during the second year of hosting MAL he walked up to one of the attendees in a very authentic-looking police uniform and asked “the officer” if there was anything he could do to help him. “I was very naive.”
MAL was held at the Washington Plaza hotel for more than a decade before moving to the larger Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, which is contracted as the host hotel through at least 2018. While working with MAL over those many years, Grady’s understanding of the leather community grew and so did his admiration.
By 2003, Grady had advanced from being a groupie to be being a full member of the Centaur Motorcycle Club, which produces MAL.
“The energy and passion that the leather community possesses is amazing. I quickly realized that I was not just part of a club, but a broader family,” Grady explains. “Plus, the feel and smell of leather is addictive.”
Similar feelings are likely the driving force for the 3,500 or more attendees that Grady, who is chairman of this year’s event, expects for MAL 2015, happening Friday, Jan 16 through Monday, Jan 19. The 836 rooms being held at the Hyatt are nearly sold out, and rooms are already scarce at the nearby hotels.
Over its lengthy history, MAL has become one of the most popular leather/fetish events in North America. The majority of the attendees are from the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States; however, the event has grown so popular that attendees come from around the world. Canadians make up the bulk of the international visitors, but many European countries are well represented.
Besides the broad geographical draw of MAL, Grady is proud of the event’s overall diversity. It attracts a number of female attendees, and the crowd spans a wide range of ethnicities and ages. And while leatherwear is the predominant dress of choice, there are plenty of rubber, skinhead, military/police and sports kits to be seen.
The schedule for this year’s MAL is packed full and includes a series of large parties. The Highwaymen TNT, another Washington, DC-based leather club, will host a fetish party on Friday night with DJ Edil Hernandez. On Saturday night, NastyKinkPigs.com will host FXCK, with special appearances by pornstars David Avila, Alexx Desley and François Sagat and music by DJ Jack Chang.
Reaction, MAL’s closing party, will be held Sunday night at the 9:30 Club, one of the nation’s top music venues. James “DJ Dub” Graham, who has been a trailblazer in DC’s dance-music scene for more than three decades, will be stage centre.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary as part of MAL, the Mr Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest will be held on Sunday afternoon. The contest is open to any adult, gay leatherman from North America. The contestants will be judged on their knowledge of the leather community, personality and appearance in a jockstrap and in formal leather. The winner will represent MAL at the International Mr Leather Contest.
Throughout the weekend, MAL will host an exhibit hall at the Hyatt. More than 30 of the top suppliers of leatherwear, fetish gear and adult toys will participate. There will also be scheduled BDSM demonstrations and a puppy park.
Those attendees who register for a MAL full-weekend package will have exclusive access to a formal Saturday evening cocktail social, Leather Cocktails, and brunch on Sunday morning, as well as access to all the other weekend activities.
In addition to the official MAL events, many of DC’s bars and nightclubs, such as the newly relocated and expanded DC Eagle, will be holding special promotions. Of course, MAL is also rather notorious for its private parties.
For a complete schedule of activities and registration information for Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend 2015, visit leatherweekend.com.