Gentlemen start your engines, and may the best leatherman win.
In just about a month Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) 2020 will take over Washington D.C. for the weekend, as it has for the past 40 years. The event, which revolves around the contest for the Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather title, boasts a well-stocked vendor market, a variety of meet-ups, formal events like Leather Cocktails, and a variety of satellite events. And its hotly anticipated: the host hotel for this year sold out in a record three days after reservations opened in January 2019.
In preparation for the event, we talked to a spokesperson for the Centaur Motorcycle Club, the organization that puts on the event and will celebrate 50 years as a leather and levis club, about what people need to know before attending.
Is it really sold out and how did that happen so fast?
Mid-Atlantic Leather is not sold out! The host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, is sold out and has been sold out since January.
“We have three other satellite hotels,” Patrick Grady of the Centaurs explains. While there were rumors that some travel agencies had bought up blocks to resell the rooms to attendees at higher prices, Grady says that the hotel sold out so quickly because of increasing demand. Not only did the rooms sell out, but there haven’t been many people canceling their reservations which happens often.
For those who didn’t get a room, there are multiple other hotels in the area, three of which have room blocks specifically for MAL attendees. And, of course, event goers can not stay at any of the affiliated hotels and just buy a weekend or day pass to attend.
How will getting in to and around the hotel work?
During Mid-Atlantic Leather, which has also been dubbed DC Leather Weekend, the Hyatt’s lobby turns into the largest gay bar in the city. Organizers set up tables around the space to sell drinks, they play music, and leatherfolk mill around in their fetish gear (more than just leather: rubber, ABDL, pups, cosplayers). This is in addition to whatever events are going on onsite. So, every year, the lobby meets (and usually exceeds) capacity. So what then?
As in years passed, attendees will be given wristbands depending on what sort of ticket they purchased. For those who are staying at the host hotel, or have purchased a weekend pass, getting into the lobby should never be a problem. But for those who elect to buy one of the other passes, or not buy a pass at all and just come to hang out with their fellow queers, in the evening when things are at their peak, they should expect to wait in line. Like any other event that reaches capacity, guests will be let in depending on when the lobby clears out.
For those hoping for elevator access, to get from the lobby to different floors of the hotel, in evenings that access will be restricted. At 5 p.m. the elevators will have restricted access that will only allow those staying at the hotel, as well as a guests they are escorting, to use the elevators.
What about the events? What’s going on?
As every year, attendees can expect the well-stocked vendor mart, Leather Cocktails, and the Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest, which Grady says already has six contestants confirmed — the Centaurs expect more. ONYX, the leather club for men of color, will also return with its annual fashion show and fundraiser, as well the puppy park (for fetishists into pup play) and the Sunday brunch. In terms of dance parties, on Friday the event will host Impact: Sauvage and on Sunday they will host Reaction, the official closing party.
For those interested, MAL will also provide a bus up to Uproar for a Beer Fest on Sunday.
Wait. That’s it?
Not exactly. Those are the official MAL events, but as the weekend has gained steam it has become an event for the whole city. Many of the city’s gay clubs do events, sometimes flying in porn stars to take part, and most of the city’s big gay parties also schedule their events during this weekend.
This year that means Brut, Hummer, and Furball are all hosting events at the DC Eagle. The Bear Cave party will be doing a leather edition at the Green Lantern, and the club will also host an event called JOX. Harder will also come to U Street Music Hall, while Pervert will be at Karma D.C, and the Leather Bear Party will take over Uproar. And this of course doesn’t count all of the sex parties — it is a fetish event. One of the events people are looking forward to is the Horse Market, an event that originated in Germany that has an .. interesting set of rules.
What else do I need to know? Is there any thing special for the 100 year anniversary of Tom of Finland’s birth?
That pretty much covers it. Grady says that the Centaurs haven’t yet announced anything to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Tom’s birth yet — then again, they still have another month. That said, there will be the annual International Mr. Leather press conference where they announce judges and updates for that event. We are expecting there to be some sort of Tom of Finland event or integration at that event in May.
Otherwise, all you need to know is to drink water, check in with your friends, and to mind your business when you see a fetish that doesn’t necessarily align with your own. We can all coexist as kinksters; that's sort of the point!