I’m writing this from my friend’s place in Minneapolis. I’ve been friends with this particular friend since around 2000 when we met online on a fan message board. No, the fandom wasn’t Duran Duran or even music related. It was, in fact, a message board dedicated to the now long canceled sci-fi TV show, Roswell. While that show ended as did much of the fandom, the friendships I made through it, for the most part remain.
This is a blog post that I have been thinking about for a long time. I have debated about whether or not to write it and whether or not to post it. I figured that it was time. It needed to be said. I needed to say it no matter what kind of feedback I get as I’m fully prepared for people to say that we don’t really “work” or that I’m whining or whatever.
Yesterday’s winner: Out of my Mind
Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist: Be My Icon or Midnight Sun?
I am thinking about quitting social media.
I remember back in the day, not so long ago when I would venture online and gleefully connect with others. I found friends I lost track of, discovered brand new friends, and even found a line of nearly direct communication with a band I’ve loved since childhood. What wasn’t to like?
It gave me great joy to chat with so many people. I still love hearing from friends I’ve known since childhood. I got back in touch with people from my old high school marching band, and there are even pictures of me from grade school floating around somewhere. I found some of my sorority sisters, and had the chance to make things right with one of them before she died tragically in a car accident a few years back. Social media made that happen and it still gives me a sense of peace, happiness and light knowing that Laurie knew how much I loved her before she died.
I found message boards, then MySpace and eventually Facebook and Twitter. Fans flooded the various platforms, and I rode the tide as long as possible. I saw the band, or at least members thereof, embrace social media, and then make a hasty retreat back to the sanctity of private life. I’ve watched fans clamor for attention, beg for retweets, offer love, respect, and admiration, often (but not always) tinged with a little lust in return.
While the band recorded new albums, I read any article I could grab, and inhaled the gossip. I poured over every last possible Katy Kafe, gleaning whatever I could. I read interview after interview, retaining as much as possible. I debated other fans, and was taken to task more than once over things I’d written and/or posted.
I remember what it was like to be a Duranie in the mid-80s. I didn’t really worry about what was coming next. I enjoyed each album, played it until the grooves wore out (after all, we’re talking days of vinyl!). I watched videos until my VCR would eat the tape! Then, out of nowhere—a new song would suddenly pour out of the speakers of my radio. My heart would flood with pure joy. I didn’t think about what producer the band used, or worried about who was playing guitar. I didn’t think about meeting the band because they were untouchable. There was no such thing as Twitter, so being retweeted was impossible! I didn’t need to compete for attention from a band that was unreachable. The bliss of being a fan in the 80s.
These days, the band really isn’t online much if at all. I avoid saying a lot of what I think or feel. I don’t tell jokes about the band, because to say a single disparaging word, even in jest, is asking for trouble. My friends from high school have grown tired of the political nonsense on Facebook, as have I. My sorority sisters have moved on. Our lives are very different from they were in college thirty years ago. It was great finding them again, but we’ve run out of things to talk about. I don’t check every Duran Duran set list posted. I want something left to chance, to surprise.
Can I still balance joy to annoyance when it comes to social media? Is it worth my time to try? Why doesn’t the band bother?? That said, privacy is golden. Where is the line of trust? Does one exist? Do I really need to know that so-and-so fervently believes the band doesn’t need a guitar player because the one they have for touring is terrible, or that Jane Doe knows that “it’s serious” that Nick isn’t on tour? For every single thing posted, there are 50,000 opinions, and I’m talking purely about Duran Duran. Was I better off in the bliss of not knowing a single thing about the band until they did an interview?
I suppose, as I mull the possibilities, the real question is joy. Where do I find joy? How do I keep it…and how do I ignore the rest of it? There’s a lot of BS out there. The “truth” is often a tangled mess. With all of the information overload available, I enjoy the moments where I’m present. While away from home, I stopped paying attention to the never-changing set list posts from the shows. Reviews were put aside until I got home. I just enjoyed being at the shows. I forced myself to stop comparing each one (not an easy task and I definitely found myself failing from time to time!), and just spent my time ENJOYING them. Living in the moment, particularly in the shadow of social media, isn’t easy.
For obvious reasons, I can’t just quit social media. For one, this blog depends upon that interaction. Instead, I find myself working to keep social media in its place. Nothing matters more than face-to-face interaction. On the same token, many of my friends do not live next door to me. In fact, none of them live anywhere near me. I get great joy from engaging with those people.
Instead of gulping down every single last tweet or Facebook post, I am learning to be far more discerning with my time. I don’t respond unless I have the interest to do so, and I’m finding many times—I just don’t. There’s no need to argue about guitarists, or bother explaining why I feel one way or another about a particular song. I am not sure that I really need to worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, because I’m really just trying to enjoy today. I’m going to do more of that, too.
Yesterday’s winner: Thank You
Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist: I Wanna Take You Higher Again or Out of my Mind?
Yesterday’s winner: Perfect Day
Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist: Success or Thank You?
I am reading plenty of excited posts from people headed to see Duran Duran at the Apollo Theater tonight. I love when the band tours, because social media exudes positive energy towards the band! Last week, I was completely caught up in my Duran Duran fandom journey, spinning within the fandom vortex. This week—I’m about to steam clean carpets. Yay! I wish I could have just kept traveling with the band. Don’t we all? Alas, most of us have limits, determined by schedule, budget, or both.
Yesterday I wrote that I don’t necessarily feel like a teenager again when I see the band. In describing what that meant, I used the examples that I don’t usually hold up signs at shows anymore, and that I don’t wear the well-loved pair of light-up horns I once did either. While writing, I didn’t give much thought to the fact that perhaps other people still did those things. It wasn’t that I find either of those things immature—I was simply explaining that they were both things I once did. Those things aren’t silly, even though I don’t participate that way any longer.
Funny enough, in the manuscript Amanda and I finished in June, we talk a lot about the fandom journey. We use the word “journey” to describe everything we’ve done—from childhood to present—as fans of this band. One of the take-aways we’ve gathered from studying this particular fan community is that each of us has our own journey. While we might all be on the same basic highway, we’re all traveling at different speeds, we stop at different places, and the paths we take are incredibly unique. I told my own story in the post yesterday, no judgment on others intended.
Another key we’ve noticed in our community is how quick we all are to judge one another. Whether we’re judging because experiences are different, or because we’re completely jealous that so-and-so was recognized by Simon or John, or because Amanda and I are doing eight shows and someone else is only doing two (and it seems ridiculous to spend so much money on eight shows) it happens with regularity. Everyone does fandom differently. My way isn’t the right way, or the only or even the best way. (in fact my husband might argue that it’s the only the best path to bankruptcy…but that’s another blog for another day…moving on….) It’s just the way I’ve done it. Your own path is probably incredibly different, yet remarkably similar.
It used to be that Amanda and I would work to find understanding in fan practices, particularly if they seemed over-the-boundary or different from our own. Let’s face it, those of us in this community are very special snowflakes. Many of us have been fans since we were kids. That same passion we had at ten, eleven or twelve still holds firm for many of us even today. We’re the rare unicorns of fandom!
I think at this point, Amanda and I have settled on the fact that no one does this fandom the same way. Some people are happy to collect photographs. Others do as many shows on a tour as possible. Still more do their one or two conveniently located shows each tour, and many do none at all. We’re still all fans and while we all do it differently, none of us are bigger or better than the other. We won’t win trophies at the “end” of this, but we will walk away with wonderful memories.
So, when I wrote yesterday that I no longer feel quite like a teen when I see them, in no way did I mean that no one else should. You want to hold up signs or wear all of your Duranie paraphernalia to a show? By all means you should! None of us know when we’ll be attending our last show. Live in YOUR moment, navigate your own fandom journey, and enjoy the ride.
Yesterday’s winner: None of the Above
Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist: Perfect Day or Lay Lady Lay?
As much as I love being with friends, it is nice to be back at home. I think I’ve settled back in, and I might have even caught up on my rest. Compared to the band, ten days isn’t very long to be away, but for me—it was quite a while. I’m the mom, master-scheduler, housekeeper, cook and chauffeur. I’m sure you get the idea. Things tend to fall through the cracks when I’m not here, and it’s up to me to gather the loose ends when I get home. I might be young again while touring, but when I’m home, it’s back to “adulting” I go!
This is my catch-up week before Amanda arrives next Monday evening and the madness begins again. Part of that catch-up involves reading the reviews I missed last week, and seeing some of the reactions on Twitter. One of the comments I’ve seen over and over, whether we’re talking this tour or ten years ago, is “I feel like a kid again when Duran Duran is on that stage!”
I know that feeling well. I described the night I saw them at the House of Blues in Anaheim in 2001 with similar words. This was before the reunion, before Dom joined the band, and before Daily Duranie became “a thing.” I caught a glimpse of myself back at the age of twelve, and I didn’t want to let go. I felt vibrant, energetic, and yeah, young.
Each time I went to a show, I felt transported back to the mid-80s. The music had a way of doing that, I guess. In many ways, that feeling was addictive. But after a while, I started experiencing the shows as an adult. That reads weirdly, but stick with me as I try to explain.
At first, it was all about experiencing Duran Duran as I would have done when I was a teen. “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”…”Planet Earth”…all of those songs…and it was because back when I was a teen, I never saw the band live. Singing and dancing my way through those shows gave me some sort of closure on that part of my life and that part of my fandom. I acted silly. I wore light-up horns. I held up signs. I did everything that I probably would have done back then. It was fantastic!
Somewhere along the line though, I stopped wearing the horns. I didn’t bring signs to shows. I stopped willing myself back to the 1980s. Instead, I started appreciating that I was in the 2000s. And then the 2010s. And so on. Don’t get me wrong, I still hope against hope that they play some of the songs I’ve never had a chance to hear live (old habits die-hard and I’m not at all sorry about that). It’s really more that when I go to the shows, I don’t feel twelve any longer. I feel like an energetic and vibrant 40-something.
What does that really mean? To begin with, I see the band a lot differently now than I did when I was a kid. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to bust anyone’s fantasies here, but they are human. They are real people with failings like anyone else. (I hear gasping out there.) They sometimes make very poor fashion choices. They are occasionally very slightly off-kilter when it comes to their talking points. Other times, they are brilliant. Their music speaks to me, and for me, in ways I couldn’t have ever written on my own.
They were my childhood heroes in the same way that once upon a time, my dad was Superman. Once I grew up, I came to the harsh reality that my dad didn’t know everything and was not the strongest man on the planet. Similarly, the same reality check came upon me for the band. Now—well, now they are people I deeply admire, even if they have no idea who I am.
There’s also the attraction thing. Yeah, I know it isn’t cool with the Duranie guys out there that the girls notice the band’s good looks. Perhaps if someone else were writing this blog, they wouldn’t mention it, but the truth is—of course I notice. I’m female. I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice their good looks. I’m attracted to them. I scream for them.
That doesn’t mean I’m standing in the audience, desperately hoping for my one night stand with any of them. Yeah, I might be a soccer mom. Sure, I’ve been married for twenty years (to an engineer, not an accountant, thanks), and yeah – if one of them looks my way I’m gonna smile back. That said, if I were to run into the band somewhere after the show I’m not wanting for much other than a conversation. That’s part of being an adult. We can converse without expectations for more.
Despite however much screaming, flirting, or fawning I’ve done over a band member during a show, let me be clear: the last thing I need to continue my fandom is a quick one-night stand in the room of a band member. I would much rather go for friendly conversation over a beverage, and walk away knowing that no one is going to be hurt by that in the end. Love the fantasy, hell—I wholly encourage such behavior simply by writing this fan blog—but reality is another thing altogether. Self-awareness is a real thing. I’m not saying anyone else shouldn’t bother, but it’s not my goal.
Another thing about experiencing fandom and shows as an adult is that I really try to stay in the moment. I want to soak it all in. I can’t speak for the rest of you reading, but I swear the years from about ten to twenty-six went by in a blink. I didn’t do too many DD shows when I was in my twenties but there were a few, and I hardly remember them. Even the first few shows I went to after the reunion are a distant memory. I barely remember the first Astronaut show I went to in Chicago of 2005. The memories are a blur after a vision of the band walking to the front of the stage with a heartbeat vibrating through the floor of the arena.
As time has worn on in the years since, I have tried to remind myself to embrace each moment of the show. If I could slow down time during any point in the set, I’d choose New Moon on Monday. I’m still sitting here marveling over that song. I just never thought I’d hear them play it and now I’m afraid that someday I’ll forget they ever did.
Sometimes, I’m more successful than others at enjoying each note of the show. I’m still guilty of occasionally grabbing my camera during specific songs in the set. I try to remember that I don’t know what the future holds. I should enjoy each second. Kids don’t typically do that because they think they’ll live forever. Unfortunately, I know firsthand that we do not. So I work harder to be present.
I am happily embracing that I’m in my mid-40s, seeing shows and having a blast. I feel young and vivacious, and sometimes I pay for that the next day which reminds me that yeah – age can hurt sometimes! Even so, I wouldn’t trade this tour, or any of the experiences I’ve had along the way. I am enjoying being a fan of this band as an adult, and as John says, “You’ve just got to go with it.”
Yesterday’s winner: Violence of Summer
Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist: UMF or None of the Above?