January 14, 2015 at 12:30 am EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Thousands expected for MAL Weekend
MAL Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Denis Largeron)

Because Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend evolved over time, its various signature events have varying anniversary dates.

The big news this year is that it’s the 30th anniversary of the Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather contest, a popular annual event that finds a group of contestants — usually between six and 10 — competing for the title. A database of past winners is available at leatherweekend.com and several former titleholders are expected at this weekend’s events, the 44th annual MAL weekend (last year, the signature event Leather Cocktails celebrated its 40th anniversary).

“We’re excited as always,” says Patrick Grady, event chair again this year. “There’s a lot of good energy online and people coming from all over, even four from Australia.”

MAL weekend, presented by the local Centaur MC club, runs Friday through Monday with many official events and several others, such as the popular CODE fetish party at Glorious Health Club (2120 West Virginia Ave., N.E.) with installments on both Friday and Saturday nights, that time their events to coincide with the thousands of out-of-town leather lovers who will be here.

Grady says about 3,000 are expected at the various events. He doesn’t know how many buy full weekend passes each year, but says the 836 rooms at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill (400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.), the official host hotel, sold out in November, slightly earlier than in other years.

Hyatt staff, who have hosted the event in four previous years and have a contract with MAL organizers through 2018, say they’re excited to host the event again. Because attendees book the hotel in its entirety, there’s no issue, they say, with leather events offending other Hyatt patrons.

“We’ve done this a number of years now and we’ve come to understand the group and work with them on everything they need to make their convention successful,” says Bob Jacobs, Hyatt director of marketing. “We allow them to literally buy out the hotel for the weekend, every room. It’s great because it really becomes their hotel for the weekend and it’s a good format for what they want to do.”

He says the long-term contract is indicative of the good relationship the two entities have with each other.

“It’s a great convention for us on a holiday weekend when many other businesses are taking a long weekend, so we’re happy for the business,” Jacobs says.

Grady says the local leather scene is somewhat in flux because of the Eagle being closed, but says overall the scene is strong and active.

“Green Lantern has picked up some,” he says. “We miss the Eagle, but the leather clubs are as strong as ever and the scene is still wonderful. We had a good showing at Pride … it’s still a vibrant, warm and loving community.”

MAIN EVENTS

Leather Cocktails is Saturday from 7-9 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt.

MAL Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

Leather Cocktails (Washington Blade file photo by Tyler Grigsby)

The Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest is Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at the Hyatt.

MAL Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

The Reaction Dance is at the 9:30 Club Sunday from 9 p.m.-4 a.m.

MAL Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

Reaction Dance (Washington Blade file photo by Denis Largeron)

Tickets are available to individual events and though the Hyatt is sold out, weekend passes to all events are still available for those who want to stay elsewhere. Visit leatherweekend.com for a full list of activities, times, prices and more.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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