It was in 1976 that Glenn Pitcher of the Links Motorcycle Club in New York took a suite at the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in that city, and in a grand gesture to visiting friends from the west coast, threw an intimate cocktail party before going out to dinner. They all arrived in full leather. As the story goes, it was Jerry McChristiansen, another member of the Links MC, who had a difficult and somewhat mysterious time in the bathroom before the group was ready to leave after an hour of cocktails. A loud and unmistakable clang was suddenly heard as a metal cockring hit the tiled floor, revealing to all that Jerry had been struggling to free himself from great discomfort.
Some time in the following months the group was invited to San Francisco to repeat the weekend. During the Saturday evening cocktails the west coast hosts decided to drop a metal cockring in the bathroom at the hotel where they were staying, and that revived the hilarity of the previous occasion thus setting a tradition. Back in New York in January of the following year the same suite at the Waldorf-Astoria was taken and invitations were sent out – extended to anyone in club colors and anyone who looked good in leather, and for the first time a commemorative pin was given to each participant. Guests arriving at the Waldorf were guided directly to the room number without having to approach the front desk. A cock ring was dropped in the bathroom to signal the opening of “Leather Cocktails”, as it was now called – the origin of the ceremony we continue today. As the party wound down guests repaired to the Peacock Lounge where a Broadway show-tune sing-along with the pianist ensued…and the non-leather clientele fled the hotel. The success of that event led to an annual event that grew ever more popular and the costs, too, had grown. A suite at the Waldorf was no longer practical, so the friends decided to burst out of New York and take to various east coast cities, and the party become open to all leather fold. In 1979 at The Strap in Washington DC, then at the 2-4 Club in Philadelphia, the Hippo in Baltimore, and again in Washington, this time at the Eagle in Exile on 9th Street, by which time more than 500 leatherfolk were in attendance, prompting Ray Hard (originally of the Links, but by then with the Spartan MC) to make the announcement that the friends could no longer host the event. Tony Bachrach and Joe Johansen of the Centaur Motorcycle Club were dismayed by this news and did not want to see this beloved tradition come to an end, so after the Spartan MC declined to continue to event, they approached Ray to ask permission to preserve and perpetuate the admirable ritual.
The Centaur MC presented the 1984 Leather Cocktails at the Exile and have since worked hard to continue sharing the sense of pride and brotherhood, adding in the following year the Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest instituted by Tony Bachrach, Jim Mantis and Al S, making the party into a full weekend of celebration. Known now as Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, it has outgrown the long-gone Exile and has expanded beyond larger, fondly remembered venues like the discos Tracks and Nation and more recently Almas Temple. Participants now number in the thousands and the weekend affair now includes Leather Cocktails (the heart) – the Contest, a Leather Exhibit Hall and a closing Dance Party.
Entering their 44th year in 2014, the Members of the Centaur Motorcycle Club wish to thank all the people who have faithfully shown up over the years and for their efforts to sustain this celebration together with the Washington community and a multitude of Leather/Levi clubs and supporters from all over the world.
Past Titleholders – Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather
Past Titleholders – Mid-Atlantic Bootblack