January 5, 2012 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Chaps and chains

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend

Jan. 13-16
Various events
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
New Jersey Ave., N.W.
Full registration: $180 or by event
Leatherweekend.com

Last year's MAL Weekend. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

 

Gay leather enthusiasts from all over the East Coast and beyond will be in Washington next weekend for the 32nd annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, which typically draws between 2,000-3,000 to its various events.

The festivities kick off Thursday at 9 p.m. at the Eagle for a “former MAL title holders” bar night. Most events, though, will be at the Hyatt Regency — the event’s host hotel. The other main exception is the Sunday night “Reaction” dance, to be held at the 9:30 club. Having as much as possible at the Hyatt was a big reason organizers moved the weekend there after 10 years at the Plaza in Thomas Circle.

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Last year, the first held at the Hyatt, drew mixed reviews, even among organizers.

“It was OK,” says Patrick Grady, this year’s event chair. “This year should be much better though. We rented the entire hotel this time so there’ll be no non-MAL guests there. Last year was a mixed crowd but this year we have the entire 830 rooms.”

Grady says feedback from last year’s attendees was taken seriously.

“There were people who were upset last year,” says Peter Wesselton, a D.C. resident who has his own dungeon. “There were people who were upset with the way the hotel handled everything. There were a whole list of don’ts — no touching, no leather in the lobby … so a lot of guys were pretty pissed off …. These are professional people, lawyers, doctors, dentists with high standing who just want to be able to let their hair down and not be babysat.”

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Although the Thomas Circle locale gave them easy access to the Green Lantern, a pro-leather club that supports the event, Grady says overall the Hyatt makes more sense.

“We had more or less outgrown the Plaza and the guests have made comments that they like to have as much as possible under one roof,” he says. “We could never be sure how much space we’d have at the Plaza and with the potential for cold weather and snow — not that that deters many leather folks — but it just makes it more convenient. They can Metro to Union Station and then we’ll have shuttle buses to the two bars we’re visiting.”

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The full package weekend is $180 and guests can register anytime for events. Staple events like “leather cocktails” and the Mr. Leather contest are once again on the schedule. Other events, like Blowoff and a new party dubbed “Luther,” piggyback on MAL but have no official ties to the weekend Grady says.

“The only things sponsored by us are the ones at the hotel and the Reaction Dance. They have other events at the Eagle and such and that’s fine, but unless it’s in the hotel, it’s not really part of MAL weekend,” Grady says.

Grady says he has “no idea” how many come from out of town for the weekend versus attendees from the D.C. area.

The event will be held per its contract at the Hyatt for two more years at least.

Full details are at leatherweekend.com.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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