Dear Daddy Manners,
First off, I want to tell you how much I am looking forward to meeting you at MAL Weekend in just a few short weeks. This will be my first ever MAL and I will be traveling to DC from Boston. Also, my best friend, Darrell Moses, will be meeting me there and is flying in from San Francisco. I’m just so excited about the weekend that I’m finding it hard to sleep and when I’m awake, I’m finding it hard not to be hard. I understand that you are an MAL veteran and a community institution of sorts so I’m wondering if you have any tips for the MAL first timers like me?
Thank you Daddy M.
Dear Jack Hoff,
Thank you and I look forward to meeting you too! And, it is true that I’ve attended many Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekends over the years but certainly not as many as Vern Stewart, Al Santora, Dan Dutcher or JP Halford. If you happen to see any of those guys during the weekend then I encourage you to go up to them and introduce yourself because they each have played an important role in either organizing, designing or reporting on the weekend for many of its 30+ years. Now for all the relative newcomers of recent years, I have my own musings on current MAL chairman Patrick Grady, and also of a few past chairs of recent years that include among others: Skip Mlaker, Larry Barat, Danny Linden and Len Griffith. I will be sharing those remembrances in another post; but just let me say, “They. Are. Insatiable.” I do hope you’ll have an opportunity while there to introduce yourself to Patrick, former MAL chairs and to all the Centaur MC members who work year-round on organizing this unique annual event and reunion.
Jack Hoff, my own first MAL was at Tracks back in the mid-1990s and in case you don’t know, Tracks was a legendary dance club that at one time helped define nightlife in Southeast DC. Tracks closed in November 1999 and from there Centaurs moved the weekend’s core events to Nation, later Almas Temple in downtown DC and finally to its current location at Hyatt Regency near Union Station on Capitol Hill. So then, if all this makes me a veteran then that I am.
Now it’s really interesting to me that so many first-timers ask questions about what they should do? I guess in a way I do understand the question because one doesn’t want to make the mistake of taking a huge dump in the middle of the hotel lobby because that just won’t go over well. Trust me. In addition, you don’t want to get on a crowded elevator and insult or berate those around you. You also don’t push when you stand in line; you don’t throw your cocktail or beverage of choice across the room; you and your guests don’t make it a point to completely trash your hotel room; you try to repress any urge to do somersaults in the exhibit hall; you don’t steal merchandise from the vendors and you don’t feed the Centaurs. Sure, you can sometimes fondle the Centaurs, but you shouldn’t be feeding them – at least not table food as these are mythical half-horse, half human creatures that from a safe distance can be led to nibble on hay, sugar cubes or raw carrots.
Jack, if it sounds like I’m making fun of you or your question about “what first-timers should do” then I am not. But truthfully, I’d like to hang a huge scroll or banner across the hotel lobby that reads: MAL first-timers and veterans alike, we are all here to have fun, to reunite and connect with old friends. We are here this weekend to laugh and live like there’s no tomorrow; and most of all, to show ourselves and each other brotherhood and hospitality. We’re all adults so please act let’s like adults. We are valuable so then we should please value each other. We are human, so then we should act like humans. We are all guests at a party surrounded by thousands of other guests so please take that knowledge seriously. Do all that you can, do all that you are capable of and do all that you are comfortable doing.
Finally Jack, my own weekend safe words are: manners, respect, and “keep going.” Hopefully those same words will work for you and others too.
See you soon!