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