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Gay leather lovers gather on the Hill this weekend

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Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade
MAL, Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather, Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s Mid-Atlantic Leather festivities. (Washington Blade file photo by Tyler Grigsby)

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend

Friday through Monday

Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill (host hotel)

400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.

MAL Full Run Package — $200

Limited number available at 3 p.m. Friday in the

registration area at the Hyatt

Weekend admission passes also available

Full weekend schedule and admission information

available at leatherweekend.com

It all began with a party and a cock ring.

That was the basis of the first Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in 1976 and over the ensuing 37 years, the event has grown into one of the most popular and anticipated leather/fetish events in the world.

Friday through Monday, thousands of leathermen, skins, gearheads, kinksters and rubber freaks will descend on the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill for a four-day-long party of fetish fun.

“We have lots of things going on at the hotel 24-7 so to speak, such as MIR hosting a meet and greet on the Friday night, and they haven’t had an event with us before,” says Patrick Grady, chair of the event. “People need to just come out to the lobby and see the mass humanity of people. It’s the largest gay bar in the city over that weekend.”

Steve Ranger, past president of Centaur MC and Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2005, says the number of events in the hotel have expanded this year, including three new parties. Last year, several new dances made their debut and will return and this year’s new entries will see Sigma (once again sponsoring the dungeon parties) bringing a demonstration and instruction on safe practices. New parties include those thrown by the Boys of Leather and the Highway Men.

“A lot of the guests really like the ability to stay in the hotel and really enjoy themselves, so we have made a concerted effort to provide more events and themed parties,” Ranger says. “There’s a brotherhood and sisterhood and people just have a great time and people accept you for who you are.”

The heart of the weekend is the historic leather formal Saturday evening cocktail social, Leather Cocktails. This year marks the 30th anniversary that the Centaur MC has hosted the party and it will commemorate the event with specialty cocktails and 3-D miniature mock-ups of what the stage will be like for the event. Additionally, Leather Archives is bringing in an award that has been handed down over the years.

“The focus will be on the fact that this is a weekend that started from a simple cocktail party and has grown into what it has become and a big focus on the back-patch leather clubs in the District,” says Todd White, president of Centaur MC. “The Centaurs are honored and blessed that the community trusts us with their tradition and the weekend, and we appreciate that it’s a joint effort of all the clubs in the D.C.-area coming together. Without the parties planned by the clubs throughout the weekend, it just wouldn’t be the same.”

Some welcome news came in early January when the D.C. Eagle, a popular gay bar with many of the attendees in year’s past, announced that it would remain open throughout the weekend of the show, having previously thought it would be closed as it made way for construction of a new office building.

“We will have a shuttle bus for our package holders taking them to the Eagle and the Green Lantern,” Ranger says. “People who have come to Washington for many years are used to going to the Eagle, so this is a chance for them to say farewell.”

There’s been a lot of change in the region’s leather community of late.

Eagle co-owners Ted Clements and Peter Lloyd are working on transporting the venue to a three-story warehouse building at 3701 Benning Rd, N.E., proposing to operate as a tavern and restaurant and offer live entertainment, dancing, a rooftop “summer garden” and a small retail gift shop.

On New Year’s Eve, the L Bar, a popular leather bar in Rehoboth, closed its doors after 16 years and will reportedly reopen as a non-leather, non-gay bar.

The leather community also lost a dear friend and Centaur brother Jim Raymond before New Year’s, and many look to honor his memory at the celebration.

The Weekend also includes official events organized by weekend hosts, Centaur MC that include a bustling Leather Exhibit Hall, Sunday brunch, Mr. MAL Contest and the official Sunday night closing party, REACTION.

“This weekend is a time to see friends who come from all over the country, Canada, Europe and even Australia and socialize, enjoy cocktails and have one comfortable social environment filled with camaraderie,” Ranger says. “You can wear your clothes, your leather, your gear all around the hotel and it’s a very welcoming environment.”

The contest has changed a great deal since Ranger took home the award in ’05, with a much better prize package being offered and more people letting down their inhibitions and competing.

The hotel is already sold out and the pre-numbers that Centaur MC are seeing reflect possibly the biggest turnout ever.

“It’s definitely going to be one of our biggest ones in recent history,” Grady says. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. The leather community is very friendly. For those who want to come out or maybe are just curious, you should take advantage of it while you can because you don’t know when it could be your last.”

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RuPaul makes Emmy history with 11 wins, most ever for a Black artist

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RuPaul picking up his trophiy at the Creative Arts Emmys earlier this month. (Screenshot via YouTube)

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