Recon is a gay dating platform available trough as a desktop webservice and as a mobile app. While it was initially designed to allow serious BDSM and Fetish players to have a safe space to meet and shine in their authenticity, this historical platform has grown and evolved during the years. In this article, I will go trough what is recon, what are its features, as paying user since 2009.
What is Recon?
Recon is a gay dating platform originally launched and designed to allow serious and authentic BDSM practitioners to meet, date, and network. The platform was created by T101, a tech company based in London, specializing in developing sites, apps, and creative solutions for evolving brands that enable like-minded people to connect.
Over time, the website/app has evolved, both in terms of branding and features, leading to a transition from a BDSM-focused dating platform to a general gay dating platform; like Grindr, but with boots. In this article, we will explore the history of Recon, its major changes over time, and a list of its current features. I will also narrate Recon’s transition from BDSM to general gay dating, and the dissatisfaction of its “old” users.
The Launch of Recon
Recon launched as a website in 1999, with the aim of providing a platform for serious and authentic BDSM practitioners to meet, date, and network. Curiously enough, no matter how Recon has been re-designing its brand in the last years to align with the latest trends in the queer world, to attract more paying user, Recon’s brand and url was originally worldleathermen.com. You’ll notice the redirect if you try to visit this url.
I remember very well when I joined in 2009; I was a barely overage boy, in my first years of training with my Mentor and Master (and still today, husband), and Leather life was something new, a bit scary, but that I was drawn to with all my heart and soul. What hooked me immediately to the platform was the realness and the strength of the pictures in the profile that I would browse curiously next to my Master; from all around the world, pictures of really intense BDSM scenes, steaming hot memories of true intensity and authentic pleasure (and pain, too). By this time, Recon was already fast spreading along the Leather community, and if you have read our article about the History of Old Guard Leather, those years where the years when the whole scene started to change dramatically.
As the platform was well-received by the BDSM community it kept growing, and in 2010, Recon launched an iOS app at International Mr. Leather in Chicago.
Changes in Recon’s Branding
Over the years, Recon has made changes to its branding, both from a design standpoint, a features standpoint, and lately from a political and marketing standpoint.
In 2009, the platform updated its branding, logos, and website addresses of the ‘world’ sites. Recon’s World Gay Men was renamed ‘Recon Men’. These changes were made to reflect the evolution of the platform.
Features of Recon
Recon has a range of features that make it a unique and popular dating platform for gay men. While many general users complain about the lack of more modern features, like the possibility of video-chats and more connections with other apps and services, some of these features include:
- Location-based search: Recon uses location-based technology to help users find other users nearby.
- Profile customization: Users can customize their profiles to highlight their interests and preferences.
- Various filters: Users can filter their search results based on their fetishes and kinks.
- Photo albums: Users can upload and share photos in their profiles.
- Events: Recon has a calendar of events for users to browse and RSVP to, including BDSM events and kink conventions.
- Chatting: Users can chat with other users through the platform’s messaging system, without limits, if they are paying users.
Recon’s Transition from BDSM to General Gay Dating
In recent years, Recon has shifted its focus away from BDSM and towards general gay dating. This transition has led to dissatisfaction among the platform’s “old” users, who feel that Recon has betrayed its initial identity as a platform for serious and authentic BDSM practitioners.
Recon’s transition from BDSM to general gay dating can be attributed to a number of factors. One of the main reasons is the growing mainstream acceptance of BDSM and kink in popular culture, leading to an influx of new users who are interested in exploring the scene. This has led Recon to broaden its scope and appeal to a wider audience.
Another factor contributing to Recon’s transition is the competition in the dating app market. With the rise of popular dating apps like Grindr and Tinder, Recon has had to adapt to remain relevant and competitive and please its investors, to the expense of the original, long time paying user base.
Recon’s original user base dissatisfaction
Recon’s transition from serious BDSM to general gay dating has led to dissatisfaction among the platform’s historical users. This dissatisfaction is not only felt by me, or by my Family. It’s indeed widely documented online, and there’s even a controversy chapter on wikipedia about the dissatisfaction of users towards Recon, on how some believe apps like these are playing a strong part in killing the leather scene. Many users feel that Recon has lost its initial identity and has become just another generic gay dating platform. Sandy Pianim, brand director of Recon at the time, has put it pretty clear in his statement:
“Leather is based on this archetype of hyper-masculinity that doesn’t resonate in the way that it once did. Our cultural archetypes have changed.”
-Sandy Pianim, Brand Director at Recon
The same Sandy seems determined to perform a queer-washing of the roots of Leather and the meaning behind it and the community that led to the phenomena that allowed for Recon to exist in the first place, which were men who took Fetish and Leather seriously. In Sandy’s and Recon opinion, Leather is about “a bunch of gays going “yaaaas”” and that’s about it, accordingly to his statements on Recon’s podcast about Old Guard Leather.
That’s what happens when you sell out. They have become more tyrannical than ever in fear of angering their sponsors and financial processing companies. They used to be cool. Now they are… well… lame.
— Johnny Naughty (@Johnnynaughty) February 22, 2023
Some of the complaints from old users include a lack of focus on the BDSM community, fewer BDSM-related events, and more and more focus on general glbt political agendas, marketing trends and lots of advertisement. Advertisement that is present also for paying users (and recon isn’t exactly a cheap club to be part of, with its pricing of 13,00 € per month.
Recon has also been promoting and organizing events at the major venues in Europe and abroad.
Don’t get us wrong. We are still on Recon, and we are still paying recon since over 10 years. It is a unique dating platform that was originally designed for the BDSM and fetish community. Its launch in 1999 as a website, and later as an iOS app in 2010, marked a significant milestone in the world of online dating. It aimed to cater to the needs of a specific community that was often neglected by mainstream dating platforms. However, over time, it became a general gay dating platform, reflecting the signs of times of how also the BDSM scene changed, which has caused disappointment among its original users. While Recon still offers many of the features that made it popular in the first place, such as location-based search and a strong focus on safety and privacy, it is clear that it has lost some of its authenticity and niche appeal.
Recon’s evolution from a fetish-focused dating platform to a general gay dating platform is not unique. Many dating platforms start with a specific audience in mind but expand to cater to a broader market. While this approach can be economically profitable, it can also lead to dissatisfaction among the original users. As a business man, I think that Recon’s case shows that it is essential to balance the need for growth and revenue with the need to maintain authenticity and loyalty among its users.
Recon is still a valuable dating platform for anyone interested in the BDSM and fetish lifestyle, and it is undoubtedly worth checking out..
What is the Recon App?
The Recon app is a location-based online dating application and service specifically designed for gay men interested in fetish and kink. It provides a platform for individuals with similar interests to connect, meet, and network with each other.
Is the Recon App available for both iOS and Android devices?
Yes, the Recon app is available for both iOS and Android devices. You can download it from the respective app stores for your device.
Can I join recon if I'm not into Fetish and Kink?
Unfortunately, yes. Especially after Recon's change in perspective from being a strong fetish community-oriented service to a mass-volume gay dating app, you can basically find everyone on Recon, just posing with a harness on.
How do I create an account on the Recon App?
To create an account on the Recon app, you need to download and install the app on your device. Once installed, open the app and follow the on-screen prompts to sign up. You'll typically be required to provide basic information, such as your email address, age, and preferences, and set up a profile with photos and a description.
You can also create a profile from the desktop version of the service, just by following the standard onboarding prompts.a
Can I search specific interests or preferences on Recon?
Yes, the Recon app allows you to search for specific interests or preferences. You can use the search filters to refine your search and find profiles that align with your preferences, such as specific fetishes, kinks, or geographical location.
Is Recon free to use?
Short answer is yes, long answer is no. The Recon app offers both free and paid membership options. While basic features and access to the app are free, there are additional premium features and benefits available through a paid subscription. These premium features include unlimited messaging, enhanced search options, and access to people's profiles galleries.
So, in the free version, after 12 years of experience with it, we find Recon pretty useless and frustrating if not in the paid version.
Are there any safeity guidelines or community rules on Recon?
Yes, Recon has community guidelines and rules in place to maintain a safe and respectful environment. These guidelines prohibit harassment, discrimination, or any illegal activities. Users are encouraged to report any violations or concerns to the app's support team, who are supposed to take immediate action. Truly though in our experience, no action is taken further than deleting a profile, that can easily be re-created. They do not restrict access based on IP or similar features. Here is what Recon provides on their support area. Recon Safety Tips.
Does Recon support protect me from abuse?
In our experience, no. I had a stalker who send life threats to me and my family for months, writing over 20 messages per day, every minute. I went to the police, and the police said they needed Recon's cooperation to find the IP of this person, who kept making new profiles to threaten me. Recon answered that unless they got an official communication from an embassy or the government itself (...) they won't disclose their user's private information. I did file hundreds of reports with screenshots, but Recon did nothing about it.