#MALLORY2018: An Unofficial Guide to MAL

Artwork by Michael Moraine. Glenn O’Brien’s Schott Perfecto jacket personalized by Jean-Michel Basquiat #KnowYourHerstory

The past 2 years, I’ve done these huge, lengthy write-ups here on DC House Grooves previewing cool alternative events happening during Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) weekend and other suggestions for how to navigate DC’s signature leather and fetish event. But, thankfully, I think the time for hand holding is over. DC and so many other cities across North America are featuring thriving queer underground communities now, and the growth of good shit to do during MAL is a reflection of that. #MALLORY2018 is the best schedule of underground events to date for MAL, and I’m pretty sure everyone gets what we’re doing and why by now.

So it’s really quite simple this year. These are the main moves to achieve maximum MAL impact (but I’ll list even more good shit to do down below):

There’s really no right or wrong way to do MAL. This weekend is really all about letting your inner kink demon out. So these listings and the following advice are just my 2 cents:

  • Buy advanced tickets and thank the party planners. Tickets are selling out and will be more expensive at the door, so plan ahead and save coins. And also please be polite to the party planners about guest lists and information seeking. These events are expensive AF with the talent we’re bringing in and are a lot of hard work to produce. We’re investing in you to make this community better, but we’re also understanding of procrastination and differing income levels. Offer to pay reduced price or whatever you’re comfortable with. Look at event pages for the information you’re seeking before texting the DJ and be patient with response times.
  • Don’t get stuck in the hotel for too long. Have all the fun at the hotel and exhibition hall and be safe in whatever way that means to you. But definitely get out and enjoy DC too. I’m obviously focusing on nightlife in this post but the museums, restaurants, and sights-to-see here are all top notch.
  • Pace yourself and be safe. Even with having Monday off for the MLK holiday, this weekend is still very draining. Sleep when you can. Eat well. Drink water. Look out for one another. Take uber/lyft/via with friends.
  • Avoid circuit music. Music is obviously subjective, but seriously.. circuit music is really, really bad, you guys. I could get into the toxic, masc, homogeneous culture of it all or the bad drugs in the circuit scene, but, at the end of the day, MAL has something for everyone, and we’re just offering something different with #MALLORY2018. Do what you want. There’s plenty of fun to be had by all in whatever scene floats your boat.
  • Grab a drink at TRADE. Having Trade as a quality, everyday gay bar the past 2 years has been so crucial to the growth of our community. The drag queens and DJs there have complete freedom to be themselves, and it is so refreshing. Their lineup this weekend is super good: (Alex DB on Friday, Mark O’Brien (our buddy from Polyglamorous in SF!!) on Saturday, and Church on Sunday with Outputmessage, Wess the DJ, Rev. Jesse Jackson and drag performances by Jaxknife, Jane Saw and Pussy Noir!
  • Check out The DC Eagle. People complain about how far it is, but DC is a pretty small city, and the Eagle is definitely worth a visit. The place is huge! 3 floors with something for everybody. They’ve also provided a crucial 24-hour space for many different music scenes, including good house and techno parties we frequent like Sequence.

I already listed the main moves for the weekend but here are my full listings of good queer parties to check out this weekend:


Sleaze (Keenan Orr, DJ Lemz) w/ The Carry Nation (NYC) at Wonderland Ballroom

Petworth Social Club – January Happy Hour (MAL Kickoff Edition) w/ Outputmessage at Homestead

Schadenfreude Neubauten w/ DJ Spookster at Safari DC


Honcho MAL: Mike Servito & Justin Cudmore

DJ Alex DB at Trade

Furball DC MAL Weekend


TNX Leather Weekend: Horse Meat Disco

Mark O’Brien (Polyglamorous, SF) at Trade


Last Chance Tea Dance feat. Sfire + StrikeStone: MAL Sunday

Church presents Holy Glory!

Oh.. and there are also rumors of a word-of-mouth, no social-media-posting after party Sunday night featuring DJ Still Standing (any of the many queer DJs both locally and in town who are still on their feet). Inquire within.

And Happy #MALLORY2018!


If you’ve read my TATS reviews, you know I’ve been to most of the Sequence parties and I’m a hopeless techno-head. So this installation of the Sequence series, after skipping the entire month of May, was not to be missed for several reasons.


One of which being that Daasnomem was opening. I reviewed his opening set at Flash a while back and enjoyed the luxury of deep, dark techno: this was just as smooth, running on a rolling beat punctuated by bits of Russian monologue and mechanical wheezes.

This was a warmup for Juana and Ron Jackson to go back to back. They started where Dassnomem left off, soon raised the energy level, and then progressed to merciless. This was a seamless transition, of course, so there was no escaping the techno machine.

We knew the headliners were coming because the speakers went silent. A moment of blank slate. And then instantly: low frequency to hit you in the bones plus a ghostly melody floating overhead. SHXCXCHCXSH had arrived.

For a moment, I questioned the wisdom of giving them the Grand Ancestor speaker system to play with. But that’s not my place.

Amazing set, regardless. A fascinating juxtaposition of the ephemeral and the visceral — but if you’ve read anything about SHXCXCHCXSH you’ve already heard this. It’s all true. Later on, Tsurugi took over and brutalized the audience with an even harder-driving set to make sure everybody was fully exhausted.

It was a night I won’t forget, for many reasons. For your sampling pleasure, a few tracks that I caught.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/embed?listType=playlist&list=PLUQ-0c7ebgiN5Vtg6JMRTA9ZQ03u_HUKs[/embedyt]

Flash Off

There was a lot of discussion, heading into Flash Off, about the authenticity of a rave organized by a club, and a major club at that. I’ve been to a number of raves in DC, organized by pros and amateurs, and there isn’t as much difference as you might think. Flash certainly has greater resources — they brought a Funktion One system to the party — but what really matters is the music. In that, I knew Flash could deliver. My question was: who would show up, the underground or the mainstream?

The first handful of us to arrive waited outside in the cold rain for the last bugs to be worked out of the sound system. That wasn’t much different from a “more underground” rave. Juana’s Frozen-ass Fan Club missed half her set.

But things took off from there. A crowd filtered in relatively quickly. Oliver Caine followed up Juana‘s hard techno opening with a smooth, energetic mix. This carried through local faves Rush Plus‘s set and into Mike Servito and Magda‘s extended back to back session.

Recently I admitted to a friend that I don’t dance as much as I used to. Drinking and hanging out has crept up on me. Well, I tipped the balance back at Flash Off and spent plenty of time on the floor. Still chatted with old friends and new, as well.

Sample playlist

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/embed?listType=playlist&list=PLUQ-0c7ebgiOaceNXURf97q1_VOK6DL0I[/embedyt]


I also can’t help but compare the Funktion One system to the Grand Ancestor that I heard at Sequence in April. The F1 was crystal clean, as you’d expect. Loud without the slightest blare. I could stand up against a stack, no earplugs, without the slightest discomfort — and they were turned up until you could feel the compressed air waves coming off them. But Grand Ancestor has more power. It hits harder. It’s raw.

Getting back to the original question: who showed up? I had to tap out after 3am, which would’ve been when the rave was turning into an afterparty. I’m glad to say that even then, the atmosphere was still underground. So thumbs up on that front.

Thumbs up and a tip of the hat in general, in fact, even though I lost my umbrella, went home with muddy dancing sneakers, and got hit by a ridiculous surge rate on my Lyft.

I won’t compare Flash Off to the Sequence raves — it’s a different audience. Same goes for Badass Raves. Midnight Project is mostly in Baltimore these days so I haven’t been to one since the rave that was shut down. Tune in next week when I’ll review the other big name in DC raves: ROAM.