MEMBER ARTICLE: #BLUF25 – Celebrating 25 Years of BLUF

MEMBER ARTICLE: #BLUF25 – Celebrating 25 Years of BLUF

from Recon News

17 March 2023

By LondonSubNigel

If you've been on Recon for a while, you're sure to have come across profiles where people mention their BLUF number. What's that all about, then? We asked Nigel Whitfield, Director of the BLUF club, to explain:

BLUF stands for "Breeches and Leather Uniform Fanclub." It's a community of people who enjoy the full-leather look, or uniforms with breeches; think Tom of Finland, leather clad motorcycle cops, or Canadian Mounties.

The club was founded back in 1997, so we've just celebrated our 25th anniversary. Back then, there wasn't a huge amount online for people who were into leather (remember, the internet was much smaller then) and in particular, there wasn't a lot for people interested in a strict leather dress code.

So, our founder Leon created the club, and invited some of his friends to join. In November 1997; originally there was a basic web page, but not all the members were even online. Some of them sent in updates by postcard. Word spread, and the very first BLUF party was held in 1998, during the Folsom Street Fair, at a now-closed bar called The Loading Dock.

Later that year, in November 1998; saw the first event in London, and since then the number of cities where you'll find BLUF popping up has grown tremendously, with several cities hosting regular monthly events.

In fact, while most people think of BLUF as a website, or an online community, it's the events that are one of the most important elements, bringing likeminded people together in cities around the world, to share their love of the formal leather look. In 2019, there were around 200 of them, and we're slowly building back up, as things get back to normal after the pandemic. You'll find regular BLUF events in cities including San Francisco, LA, New York, Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam. In London, we're currently looking for a new home following the closure of The Backstreet in July 2022.

Over our first quarter century, we've grown steadily, passing 1,000 members in 2003, and 3,000 in 2012. We're now well coming up to 5,000, with members found in over fifty countries around the world. Along the way we've also won some awards – the Pantheon of Leather 'Large Club of the Year' award in 2008, and X-Awards in 2013 and 2018.

All of this is testament to the community at the heart of BLUF. The site's run by a not-for-profit company, and all our events are organised by volunteers – members who want to bring together others who share their same enjoyment of leather and uniforms. As well as full-leather events, we have BLUF Socials with more relaxed dress codes, which are a perfect opportunity for people to come along and find out more about the club.

Does it cost a lot to get into BLUF?

One common misconception about BLUF is that you have to spend a fortune on gear to meet the dress code. And while it's true that we have a dress code – see BLUF Dresscode in the links below – it's not true that you have to break the bank. Yes, sure, some people spend a lot of money on gear from top-end leather suppliers, but by no means all. It's ultimately down to personal preference and means.

They key to the BLUF look is smart and formal, but a uniform doesn't have to be full leather to pass muster. For example, a fabric CHP uniform with a leather jacket meets our dress code just as much as a full set of Langlitz leathers. And you can get the look much for a lot less than either of those will cost, too.

If you're starting out and want the basics of a smart look, find some leather trousers, and a pair of boots. Those will stand you in good stead, whether a BLUF member or not.
Yes, leather trousers and boots themselves don't always come cheap – but you can find bargains on sites like eBay or if you don't mind second-hand gear, SecondSkin.

You can then add a fabric uniform style shirt - you can often find surplus police or pilot's style shirts for as little as £10 (€11/€12) - and then finish the look with a leather tie or a Sam Browne belt. Now you've got the basics of a smart looking uniform, then as time and funds allow you can add more accessories, like gloves and a cap, or a jacket, or swap your fabric shirt for a leather one.
BLUF : Free to join, free to use

BLUF is both free to use, and free to join, with no restrictions. Many members do donate to the club, which helps us keep going and pays for new features and improvements for the club, events and app, but if you decide not to, you don't get penalised.

Instead, when people donate, they receive a BLUF card, and a selection of vendors offer discounts to card holders. We also raise money by selling merchandise like T-shirts and the annual BLUF calendar, which you can buy at the BLUF online store.

To join BLUF, you submit your email address via the website; we'll the send you an email with a link and a summary of the dress code and rules. All applicants are sent a random number to write down on a piece of paper and include in a selfie – this is to verify your identity and not photos found on the internet – then upload your pictures, name, and location, as well as confirming you agree to our rules.
Once that's done, our volunteers will review your application. We will suggest changes to fix any problems – like swapping trainers for boots or adding a Sam Browne belt – we'll write back to you with some suggestions. And if all is ok, you'll receive a welcome message, with your new BLUF number. So, what are you waiting for?

Go to the BLUF website for more information.

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