MAL Underground 2016


This weekend, thousands of revelers from all over the globe will descend on our nation’s capital for the annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, usually just called MAL. Organized by the Centaurs Motorcycle Club and hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, MAL brings together the leather, kink, fetish and larger queer community with an exhibit hall, vendors, demonstrations, DJ parties, a Mr. Leather Contest, and, yes, lots of kinky sex up in the hotel rooms.

For many MAL participants, the excitement of everything going on in the hotel prevents many of them from venturing out into DC. But, mirroring what’s going on in gay communities across North America, the “queer underground” has been diversifying MAL’s offerings by throwing supporting or unofficial parties elsewhere, and re-shaping the sound and atmosphere in the process.

This year’s schedule is certainly the most ambitious, with acts like Horse Meat Disco coming to town from London and Pittsburgh’s Honcho party hosting its own event. Even the official closing party has booked Ultra Naté at 9:30 Club, a clear diversion from its more circuit-sounding roots.

So much like the Pride Underground listings I put together back in June (worth a re-visit, for my thoughts on gays and straights sharing underground spaces), I’ve compiled my listings for the MAL Underground below, with tips and tricks along the way to make this your best (or maybe first) MAL Weekend ever!

Thursday Picks

Shirtless Scandals @ Blackout Underwear Party at Green Lantern

Musically speaking, there isn’t much interesting going on Thursday night for MAL, but if you want to kick off the weekend right, look no further than the Green Lantern for the timeless tradition- Shirtless Men Drink Free happy hour from 10-11pm. To kick things up for MAL, they’ve invited those piggy boys from DC’s gay rugby team, The Washington Scandals, to host, and are also having an underwear party immediately following Shirtless.

Best Above Ground
Welcome to DC – MAL Weekend at The Eagle
(Sidenote: The Eagle will be hosting events all weekend long, and there is even a free shuttle for MAL weekend package ticket holders. Hopefully this will be a good weekend for DC’s only leather bar that will translate into year-round support!)

Friday Picks

MAL Exhibitor Hall at The Hyatt Regency
The Exhibitor Hall and Marketplace open on Friday at 4PM and is open til 10PM. There will be a entry fee to get in (I believe $10). Friday is a good time to go as it won’t be crazy packed yet. There will definitely be a lot of leather goods, sex toys and poppers for sale from various vendors. Demonstrations such as flogging may be on display. There will be a puppy pen.. and no I’m not talking about actual dogs. For anyone new to kink events like MAL, remember that while all the bears, otters, and pups may make it feel like a zoo, please don’t treat it like one. Keep an open mind and any snickering to yourselves. That disclaimer applies for all other events too.
(Sidenote: The Exhibitor Hall is also open on Saturday from 10:00AM-6:00PM and on Sunday from 11:00AM-5:00PM).

FURBALL DC @ MAL feat. HONCHO (PGH) at The Black Cat

If we’ve chatted in the past year or so, chances are I’ve already preached the Honcho and Hot Mass gospel to you. But for the unfamiliar, Hot Mass is an after-hours dance club below a bathhouse in downtown Pittsburgh, where Honcho holds down 1st Saturdays with an all-queer DJ lineup of incredible residents and guests from around the world. The freedom I felt when I first went to this party has kept me going back and back for more. Transporting Honcho’s special vibes is a daunting task, but they’ve had great success on the road too. TNX even teamed up with Honcho last year during MAL, and the love affair between our two cities and crews continues this weekend, as Honcho and NYC’s FURBALL take over Black Cat’s Main Room to kick the weekend into high gear. All three Honcho residents will be on hand- Aaron Clark, Clark Price & George D’adhemar.

Best Above Ground
CODE at Glorious Health Club
(Sidenote: CODE is a monthly gear party at a bathhouse, but will be operating on Friday AND Saturday night for MAL, with a free shuttle from the hotel for weekend package ticket holders).

Saturday Picks

Horse Meat Disco w/ DJ Lisa Frank & The NeedlExchange at U Street Music Hall
After two years of throwing Pride parties together, The NeedlExchange (full-disclosure- I am a member), DJ Lisa Frank, and U Street Music Hall are now teaming up for MAL and are bringing in Horse Meat Disco to boot. Horse Meat Disco is no stranger to DC’s disco aficionados or anyone who has ventured out to big gay events like Bear Week in Provincetown, yet the London outfit have inexplicably never played in DC. That ends Saturday night for what is sure to be a raucous night of twirling with Horse Meat Disco members Severino and James Hillard on hand. Advanced tickets have already sold out, but there will be a limited number of tickets at the door. Get there early if you need one though.

Sunday Picks

Last Chance Tea Dance feat. DJs Scooter McCreight (Toronto) + Kevin O’Connor (SF) at Town
Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 11.11.44 PM
Sunday afternoon tea dances are a gay institution that sadly seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, not only is Otter Crossing throwing a proper tea at Town Danceboutique, they’re also bringing in quality DJs from the queer underground: Scooter McCreight (Cub Camp/TRADE, Toronto) and Kevin O’Connor (Pound Puppy, San Francisco). TNX was lucky to DJ with Scooter and Kevin twice in 2015: first at Honcho’s already legendary Summer Campout and then again at Kevin’s Pound Puppy party during Folsom.
(Sidenote: Immediately following Tea at Town is WTF!? CRUISE SHIP // PU$$Y NOIR // JAXKNIFE // SALVADORA DALI at Town).

Best Above Ground
Dark & Twisted: The Official MAL Weekend Closing Dance at 9:30 Club w/ Ultra Naté
(Sidenote: Tickets are $35 advanced and $45 at the door for the closing party)

As I finish up these listings, I’m realizing most of these events seem hyper masculine. However, women are certainly involved in and are welcome at MAL events. While the presence of women is certainly more apparent at other leather events like Folsom in SF, I can assure you there will be zero tolerance for misogyny, racism, transphobia, or any other bullshit at these parties. Moreover, you do not have to be into leather to partake in the festivities. It’s a great opportunity to observe, dabble or revel in the kinkier side of life, even if it’s just for one long weekend. Have fun out there!

Author: Tommy Cornelis


Pride Underground 2015

Tommy Cornelis is a member of the DJ collective and party The NeedlExchange, and DC House Grooves has invited him to give you an unofficial and underground guide to DC Pride 2015!

prideunderground nocal

It’s easy to assume everyone in our underground community knows that we owe a great deal to our “dancestors”, particularly LGBTQIA people of color, when we step on the dance floor. But then you hear Ten Walls (aka Mario Basanov) spew some truly vile shit that would make Rick Santorum blush, and you’re left scratching your head.

And while it’s great to see gay rights progress incredible fast, it’s sad to see gay audiences completely unaware of our roots. I meet gay people all the time who have never heard the names of Larry Levan or Frankie Knuckles, but know every word to [insert name of generic, straight pop star].

Far too often lines are drawn on both sides, albeit unintentional, where gay people might be really into a DJ, but the harsh reality is that they may not attend the event because they don’t want to be the only gay person there, coupled with the concern “is this truly a safe space?”. Conversely, some straight people won’t go to a queer event out of fear of invading their space, or maybe they too feel like the “odd one(s) out”.

As we embark on our annual DC Pride celebration, active discussions on diversity in dance culture and the commercialization of Pride are taking place. While these (and many other) conversations are crucial to our identities, and should be evolving beyond the scope of one week in June, I say we stop taking sides and strive to create inviting spaces that would make our dance forefathers and mothers proud. We are a resilient, diverse community, bound by our love for the dance floor and expression of self.

If you want to take me up on that challenge, here are some pride events from DC’s emerging, queer underground for you to sweat to this week!

Wednesday Picks

Market Crash – Pride 2015 Special Edition at The Big Board
Market Crash - Pride 2015 Special Edition at The Big Board
It’s really cool seeing gays throwing weekday parties AND branching out of NW, and Market Crash just celebrated one year of doing just that with their monthly party on H Street at The Big Board. For Pride they’re bringing in guest DJ Tommy Cornelis and drag queen Heidi Glüm. Heidi hosts a drag night at Black Cat called Gay Bash, where you’re more likely to see a Marilyn Manson performance than Britney Spears.

Black Coffee with Vanniety Kills, meegs at U Street Music Hall
Black Coffee with Vanniety Kills and meegs at U Street Music HallWhile not technically a gay or pride event, everyone’s favorite person who just happens to be a lesbian, DJ Vanniety Kills, is making an unfortunately rare DJ appearance with meegs in support of Black Coffee. Annie has been supporting a loved one in a fight against cancer, and this weekend “The DC Three” (ESL, Uhall, and Flash) are hosting 3 Love Triangle events to raise funds: including secretsundaze DC with Giles Smith, James Priestley, Brian Monaco; Body Werk at Flash on Friday, PARADISE MIRAGE – PRIDE 2015 feat. Kim Ann Foxman on Saturday, and Sam Burns and friends on Sunday at ESL.


Best Above Ground:
SCANDAL DC presents Capital Pride Jello Wrestling at Penn Social w/ Scandal DC
DC Bike Party’s 2nd Annual Pride Ride at Dupont Circle w/ DJ Shea Van Horn

Thursday Picks

Schadenfreude Neubauten w/ DJ Laura Palmer at Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar
DJs Wolfblister (Kwasi) and Dianamatic were DJing a party called Kitty Twister together at Dodge City when they started Schadenfreudu Neubauten as an outlet to play coldwave, post punk, minimal synth, goth and near goth stuff. And they do this all at Dr. Clock’s, which has served as an incubator of sorts for off-the-wall ideas. Find out who killed guest DJ Laura Palmer this Thursday.

Shirtless at Green Lantern
No one goes here for the music, but “Shirtless” at “The Latrine” is a proud DC tradition. The deal is you drink for free from 10-11PM if you take your shirt off. It creates a dance floor full of shirtless, sweaty dudes, which sometimes hits the spot.. especially during Pride. Shirtless is also a stop on the Leather Barcrawl, which has a free bus to the not-so-convenient new location of the DC Eagle, so it’s a good opportunity to drink cheap, check out the Eagle, and get your leather on!

Pornstache at Satellite Room
Satellite Room is hosting several pride-related events this year, including this party from the team behind Market Crash.DJ Kevo and DJ Melo will be playing electro music all night, and there will be performances by drag queens Heidi Glüm and Salvadora Dali.

Best Above Ground:
9th Annual DC Latino Pride: La Fiesta Dance Party at Town

Friday Picks

Booty Rex at Black Cat
Top pick for Friday night is definitely the now annual and quite legendary Booty Rex party, combining the Anthology of Booty collective and the (now defunct) She.Rex party. There aren’t a ton of lesbian parties in DC, but when there are- people show up in full force ready to get down. There’s something to be said about this model in a city where we so often have to pick and choose from several great events each night. Booty Rex takes over both floors of The Cat w/ DJs Natty Boom, Alex DB, DJ RAt, and Junebullet, to name a few.

Otter Crossing feat. CTRL at Green Lantern
Otter Crossing is one of the few gay parties in DC that has achieved a cult-like following that doesn’t compromise on music selection. For Pride, Otter Crossing is hosting the boys of CTRL, who promise to transport us to a 70s bathhouse and play some disco!

Bear Happy Hour at Rock ‘n Roll Hotel
Bear Nonsense Bear Happy Hour - PRIDE June 12 feat. Alex DB, Jim Gade, Tommy Cornelis at Rock & Roll HotelBears in DC have always strived to be a fun, welcoming community, but the music has sometimes been an afterthought. Luckily this summer, Tommy Cornelis has teamed up with the Bear Nonsense Happy Hour at RnR to curate a rotating cast of DJs that has or will include Bil Todd, Keenan Orr, Ed the Metaphysical, Baronhawk, Dean Sullivan, Natty Boom, and George D’adhemar. It’s breathed some new life into the expansive, political, and often competing bear happy hour scene, and has united the younger, bear-ish queers with a great DC tradition. For the Pride edition, Alex DB and Jim Gade will be on the decks with support from Tommy Cornelis!

LoveCamp: Pride Edition ft Metaphysical & Dean Sullivan at Embassy Row Hotel
LoveCamp: Pride Edition ft Metaphysical & Dean Sullivan at The Embassy Row Hotel
One Love Massive is also hosting a rooftop happy hour, so you got options on getting your night started. This one features a reunion of the party Church with DJs Ed the Metaphysical (ESL) and Dean Sullivan (Gay Bash, BearZerk, DILF).

Best Above Ground:
BYT & Cap Pride Present: Flashback Opening Party at The Arena Stage

Saturday Picks

Paradise Mirage feat. Kim Ann Foxman at U Street Music Hall
Paradise mirageI’m obviously biased but top pick for the entire weekend is Paradise Mirage, where U Street Music Hall and TNX (Bil Todd, Baronhawk & Tommy Cornelis) aim to resurrect Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage through Keith Haring-inspired artwork, Paradise Garage-inspired visuals, and music from the Butch Queen DJs, TNX, DJ Lisa Frank, and Kim Ann Foxman. The theme for Pride this year is Flashback, so it’s great to see a party connecting with the origins of the queer and modern dance floor, and that uhall is again supporting this vision with an amazing booking. Kim rose to notoriety through Hercules and Love Affair, but has been holding it down as a DJ and producer and at the helm of Firehouse Recordings. This event is also part of The DC Three present: LOVE TRIANGLE Fundraiser and a portion of proceeds will go towards helping one of our own to say #FCancer!

Here are some preview mixes from Lisa Frank and TNX to put you in the spirit.


Babe Rainbow at Black Cat
For the 2nd year, the Black Cat is giving over both floors to local DJs who represent a diverse collection of underground nights in DC. Keenan Orr, Dean Sullivan, Alex DB, Abichula, Tom from Prague, Bryan Smith, and Candice Jones will give you a great mix of sounds, and a portion of proceeds go towards The DC Center. Definitely include this as a stop while you’re party hopping and expect amazing artwork from the hands of Linas Garsys. Black Cat is at the forefront of supporting queer weirdos and their out-of-the-mainstream parties, something, sadly, not many gay bars in this city are willing to do. They’re really stepping up by giving over both floors to pride events on Friday and Saturday.

Here’s a preview mix from Dean


Supergay Saturday! at Embassy Row Hotel
Supergay Saturday! with Outputmessage, Tommy Cornelis & Illexxandra at Embassy Row HotelIf you’re looking for a destination before, after or even during the parade, One Love Massive is hosting a pool party at the Embassy Row Hotel with DJs Outputmessage, Tommy Cornelis & Illexxandra from 12-7pm. If you haven’t yet, check out Outputmessage’s entirely original and seriously good productions. Bernard is a great DJ too, so expect perfect poolside vibes from these 3 in a beautiful setting that’s waving distance from the parade. It’s supposed to be a hot one on Saturday, so a no cover event with free access to a pool is greatly appreciated.

Best Above Ground:
Pride Parade Presented by Marriott®™ ®
FUSE | Official Capital Pride Women’s Party w/ DJ Jacq Jill and DJ Rosie
MIXTAPE Pride Party w/ Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer
CRUISING: Leather and Kink Pride Event at Satellite Room
#UndergroundThrowdown at Dance Loft

(Saturday into) Sunday Picks

Pride Afterhours: Honey Soundsystem at Flash

Pride Afterhours: Honey Soundsystem at Flash
A proper, queer afterhours party in DC is finally happening.. and it features San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem no less! Following Flash’s party with Vicenzo, Honey is sending over Jackie House and Jason Kendig, and they’re letting you scramble on that windowless dance floor from 4am til noon. Honey Soundsystem absolutely destroyed TNX’s pride party at uhall last year alongside Honey Dijon and Nancy Whang, so it’s going to be really nice to see them play an extended set for pride this year. We’re really hoping DC can hang with them for this one. Pro-tip: tickets from Vicenzo are honored for this event, and stamps from Paradise Mirage and Babe Rainbow earn you a $5 discount.

Double Feature at Satellite Room
Satellite Room has been showing two movies on Sundays, and for Pride they are showing Hairspray and Paris is Burning!

Best Above Ground:
Pride Festival presented by Live! Casino®™ ®
Pride Concert presented by Hot 99.5®™ w/ En Vogue and Amber
Fanny Pack- Ladies Tea/Pride Closing Party w/ DJ Deedub, DC Kings and DJ LiLo
Cobalt Presents: DC Pride Official Closing Party – Power of Pride w/ DJ MadScience and DJ Power Infiniti