Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, BLUF webmaster, Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3), 11 April 2012
There’s little doubt that the fetish scene has changed a lot in the last decade or so. As people have flocked to the web as a place to meet, so tastes and attitudes have changed.
Where once those into leather would find like minded souls in a bar, and very likely end up with the same sort of gear, today they’ll find each other online, and with the wealth of stores supplying gear, all competing for customers, there’s probably a far wider range of kit available than there ever has been before.
Not sure about a traditional leather look? How about a body harness with neon highlights? Or a snug pair of neoprene trousers? Or a leg strap? Take a look through the pictures on fetish sites and you’ll see all these, and more. You’ll see plenty of nicely muscled young men wearing fetish gear at events that, to some, will seem to be more about the music and dance than the attitude and cruising.
Does that mean that the traditional leather look is an older man’s game? That there’s no place left for anything that might – and I hesitate to use such a charged term – have even a whiff of the ‘old guard’ about it? In short, does it mean that clubs like BLUF and the venues that cater to them have nothing to look forward to but a gradual decline?
A matter of approach
Obviously, you’d expect me to disagree. I certainly do recognise that, for a lot of younger people on the leather scene, the more traditional full leather looks don’t necessarily fit with the images that they see at more dance-focussed clubs, and it’s hard to deny that, especially in the case of BLUF, our dresscode does tend to mean that people tend to be a bit older by the time they join, because it takes time to acquire the gear.
But, that certainly doesn’t have to be the case. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that you don’t have to break the bank to be a member of BLUF; all of the gear in the photos on this page is stuff – aside from the leather tie and Sam Brown belt – that I’ve bought on eBay or secondhand elsewhere, and I don’t think any of the outfits on show cost much more than £100 – the most expensive bits are probably the tie and the boots.
Of course, it’s not just about cost. It’s about attitude too, and how welcoming a club or a bar is to people who are new to the leather scene. If someone young comes along to an event and feels that older members are simply sizing up the ‘new meat’, or conversely if they swagger in exuding an attitude of “I’m younger and fitter than all of you” then things aren’t going to go well. Similarly, if someone feels that they’ll be looked down at for not having the right gear, or failing to address someone in the ‘correct way’ then they’re unlikely to want to venture into a traditional leather bar.
If any of these things were completely true – of BLUF, or of leather bars – then I’d tend to agree that yes, they’ve had their best days, and they’ll slowly dwindle away as members get older and reminisce about how things used to be, before the internet, before fetish turned into fashion, and on and on and on.
But they’re not true.
I honestly don’t think that is the case; sure, you can find people who have had bad experiences, when they’ve met arrogant fools, or those whose idea of what happens in a leather bar is based rather too much on the ideals in some erotic fiction.
Alongside them, though, you’ll find an awful lot of people, young and old. We don’t record members’ ages on BLUF, though I’d guess that the bulk of those I see at events are probably in their 30s and 40s.
However, one thing that’s noticeable is that there is an increasing number of younger men joining up; perhaps that’s helped by the visibility of some of the younger people winning competitions around the world – including of course the UK’s own Mr Leather, whose own post on age and leather prompted me to write this one.
It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing, of course. Clubs like BLUF don’t stand apart from the rest of the fetish scene; there’s no reason why someone shouldn’t wear full leather uniform one day, and a rubber jockstrap the next – if that’s what makes you happy, then why not? For many members, BLUF and what it stands for is just one aspect of their sexuality; it might not even be the main one – but it’s the thing that we all have in common here, just as other sites have their own common interests.
And ultimately, it doesn’t matter if we’re young, or we’re old. As long as we enjoy what we do, and what gets us off, and we treat people with respect, rather than trying to make newcomers feel unwelcome or inferior, then leather doesn’t have to be an old man’s game.
We don’t all have to have had the same experiences, or bought exactly the same gear, or go to the same clubs, or wear leather to work, just to be a ‘real leatherman’. There’s no such thing as a ‘real leatherman’. There’s you, and there’s me, and everyone else, doing what feels right for them. And as long as you’re wearing a leather uniform, whether you’re 21, 41 or 71, then you’re welcome at BLUF.com.