I recently attended Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend (MAL) in Washington DC and, let me tell you, it was so much more interesting than I could ever imagine. For those of you who don’t know what this event it is, it’s basically a celebration of all thing sexual within the LGBT Community. In other words, it’s very sex positive and affirming.
This three-day long party is dedicated to leather and other forms of fetishes/kink and attendees number in the thousands. It’s actually kind of crazy how many people were at this event and you never run out of interesting things to see…and experience (if you’re looking for that). I won’t go into the details of things I saw happen but it was interesting to say the least. During MAL, there are quite a few things to attend such as the dance party at night and the Leather Cocktail Hour. There’s also a Leather Exhibit Hall where you can purchase just about anything you might night for cheeky bedroom time and a Mr. MAL Contest.
Needless to say, there is more than enough to keep you occupied and on top of this, the event takes place in the bustling (and tourist-friendly) city of Washington DC. You might think you’d only see bears and such at MAL but, in reality, every type of gay guy imaginable attends this event. I was actually surprised to see a high number of twinks, jocks, and others at the event. What’s makes this event so cool in my opinion, aside from the sex positive attitude of it, is the apparent lack of cliques. At least, in my experience, the event didn’t seem to cliquey. I’ve been to many gay events and it always seems like certain groups of people hang out with other groups of people and their is no cross-over…no intermingling. But MAL was different. It’s one of the few events where it felt like everyone was simply enjoying themselves and appreciated meeting new people.
Now, if you decide to add Mid Atlantic Leather Week to your travel itinerary next year, here are a few tips to make the experience even better.
1) Drinks Are Expensive
Drinks at MAL can be pretty expensive and, honestly, the bar can be difficult to get to. You can’t just hand a card to the bartender…or cash for that matter so you’re not likely to overspend. You have to buy drink tickets. Cocktails are about $8 each and beer is slightly less. The best thing you could do is stay at the hotel and have your own alcohol in your room. Or you could become friends with someone who has a room and bring your own alcohol to have in their room. In any case, drinks are expensive and you should be prepared to dish out the dough.
2) Don’t Be Afraid To Chat People Up
People are pretty friendly at MAL, albeit potentially highly intoxicated. Don’t be intimidated to talk up that muscle jock or be friendly with that bear dancing on the dance floor. How else will you meet new people?
3) Have an Open Mind
You’re going to see some pretty interesting, crazy things going on. People walking around in jockstraps or less, pups, uniforms, chains, and more…this is what it’s all about. If you go to MAL then you need to have an open mind and not be judgmental.
4) Head Upstairs
The dance party and socialization downstairs in the lobby and on the dance floor are pretty awesome. But when you go upstairs the vibe changes a bit. Well, the vibe changes A LOT. The main floors to hang out on are the 10th and 11th floors which are lovingly referred to as the “observation deck.” I won’t go into the details of why it is referred to as this but you’ll find out on your own. Additionally, you can find all kind of parties going on and, typically, all are welcome.
5) Try Something New
Most importantly, when you go to MAL, try something new! You might like it. If you are normally the person who keeps their shirt on, take yours off! Buy a harness…or at least try one on. Dance with anyone who wants to dance. Just have fun!