Category Archives: Fandom

Still Fangirling

I came by invitation

When I was in middle school, my experience as a fan pretty much consisted of buying teen mags, searching for pinups I didn’t already have, gabbing with friends about Nick’s seemingly new (to us) hair color, John’s fedoras, or maybe even Simon’s tiger baby pendant. I would listen endlessly to the Duran Duran albums I had, and whenever my friend Marsha’s mom agreed to take us to Tower Records, I’d search the record bins and inevitably I’d find new Duran Duran singles in there that I’d never heard of prior. As MTV arrived in my town and Friday Night Videos or Video One became a thing, I spent a fair amount of time waiting for the next video to arrive, or calling in to local radio stations, begging the DJ’s to play a request. Concerts weren’t really a thing for me, although I would sit and listen intently to friends who had either already seen the band at the Greek theatre (not many of us were that lucky), or were planning to go to the Forum in 1984.

I didn’t really have stories of my own to tell. No descriptions of late nights, running into a band member as he walked out of a club. There were no tales of sitting in lobbies, or trying to tail them from Milwaukee back to their hotels in Chicago. There were just the pinups, the music, the videos, my friends, and me.


Going on to somewhere

In many ways, those times were easy. The only way we could truly “compete” for Duran Duran real estate, so to speak, was through knowing everything there was to know about the band, and whatever we owned – pinups, music, t-shirts, and other merchandise. We’d each lay claim to our favorite band member, and hope no other friend decided to make a contest out of it…although I suspect that even then, we knew there was almost zero chance of any of us ever meeting the band, much less marrying one of them!

Decades later – and in a lot of ways it pains me to type those words (how can I really be nearing 50 anyway??) – fandom, or at least the practice thereof, has changed a bit for many of us. Hannah Ewens wrote in Fangirls, “Fandoms are a sphere where contribution increases with age, the more stories the better, the more access, the more information, the more gossip, the longer loving.” I’ve been thinking about quote that a lot this morning.

Back in 2003 as I attended my first Duran Duran fan convention, I can distinctly remember being fascinated by the stories. So many people I met had their own Duran Duran tales to tell. Stories of traveling, of meeting them in the 90’s, running into them in bars, hotels, restaurants. I wasn’t jealous, I was shocked. The world I never thought would collide with my own was right there, almost within reach.

A crush panic

I can’t really argue that as I’ve aged, I’ve done things that would have seemed completely out of this world in 1984. The very idea of ever being in front row, for example. In late 1983, as tickets for the Sing Blue Silver tour went on sale – my parents were dead set against the idea of even trying to get a ticket. My dad felt that I was far too young, and without having any older siblings (he absolutely wasn’t going to be taking me), I was pretty much sunk. My friend Marsha’s father stood in line the day they went on sale and came up completely empty. The tickets sold out very quickly, and she was sad when she came to school the following day. We stood around at break, listening to some of our other friends squeal in delight that they had not only gotten tickets, but their mothers – clearly wiser and far more hip than our own – had called a local ticket agency and gotten even better seats. Some of our friends were as close as third row, and their moms had no issue with forking over $100 or more to be up there.

This was 1984, I’ll remind you. One of my friends went to the Forum show, and I believe her seat was $11.00. Comparatively, $100 seemed like a fortune. It absolutely did to my dad when I told him later that night! After watching my dad’s face go from his regular ruddy complexion, to tomato red as he gasped in horror at the ticket price, declaring that he would never be “the kind of fool to pay those kinds of prices just so his kid could sit near the front of a damn rock concert!”, I figured front row wasn’t going to be an option. Hell, even just going to a concert was a long way off as it was. Little did I ever realize that someday, I would do exactly that…more than once!

My stories aren’t that amazing in the sense that no, I don’t have tawdry backstage tales, or memories of hanging with the band. I do, however, have some wonderful friends I’ve made. We’ve traveled to far off places that, back in 1984, wouldn’t have ever been in my biggest daydreams. My fandom is so much bigger at 48 than it was at 12 or even 13 – I wouldn’t have ever thought it possible.

Midnight traffic in her eyes

My tears during Seventh Stranger in Las Vegas were as much about my youth and experiences along the way as they were the band’s. Seeing the images I remember of Duran Duran from the 80s, bigger-than-life onscreen, combined with the Duran Duran I know from today felt like a lightning strike on my heart. We’ve walked a lot of miles together. Duran Duran created a safe place for me during my most awkward years. They gave me a place to grow, to feel connected to others, and to be understood. They still do.

When I’m in the audience at a Duran show – I can see thousands of different versions of myself in the audience. The shy introvert, the confident mom, the girl who saved up extra change from lunch to buy her first Duran Duran t-shirt, the new mother who survived post partum depression, the middle-aged woman that isn’t completely satisfied with her life or marriage. The seventh grader who just wants to be accepted. We’re all out there, living the music, enjoying the moment, together.

“Being a fan means you don’t have to be the person you are in this moment, restricted by time, space and circumstance, rather you can be strengthened by and exist through all the others you’ve been.” (Ewens)

-R

Teach You How to Live

This blog post finds me in Philadelphia on a family vacation. My sister and her family drove from North Carolina to meet my parents and I there after we took a short flight from my home town airport. We are basically taking a long weekend to spend some time together, to see some of the local sites and to go to a baseball game. A few years ago, we discovered that we enjoy going on vacation together and planned this one as a result.

So why Philadelphia on the first weekend in August? Did I mention that we are going to a baseball game? Yep. That’s right. We are going to see the White Sox play the Phillies. Fandom is part of the family DNA. My mother likes to tell the story about how my grandpa used to travel through the Chicago sewers to sneak into old Comiskey Park to watch games for free with his brothers. My dad, on the other hand, talks about dumping an old girlfriend when she was not interested on the day the team won the Pennant. I literally do not remember a time when we weren’t White Sox fans. Games were always on and summers often revolved around listening, watching and reading about Sox games. Family discussions are filled with criticism and ideas about what the team should or should not do. I remember when my grandpa died in 1983. When grief got too much, we went out to play catch or turned on the game, which helped. It is definitely part of my family culture.

I often hear or read about the first time someone went to a baseball game and how memorable it was. I don’t have that. It isn’t that I haven’t been to a game but the exact opposite. My first game was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. The same is true for my siblings and parents. I couldn’t even tell you how many games that I have been to. Lately, we have started traveling to different cities to see our team of choice play. I have seen games in Milwaukee, both parks in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, DC and Philly as of tonight. My parents could list even more like Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City. My aunt and uncle do the same thing as well.

The point here is a simple one. I learned how to be a fan as a kid. My parents taught me that there is nothing weird or abnormal about traveling to participate in one’s fandom. They never sat down and said, “You are going to be a White Sox fan. Here’s why and how you will express your fandom.” No, they taught me and my siblings by example. I saw them be fans like I saw my grandparents be fans. As I was growing up in this White Sox household, I also realized that this brought us together as a family. We cheered the World Series win in 2005 as well as no-hitters and other big games. It provides us with something that we will always have in common. Even when we are frustrated with each other, we ALL still root for the White Sox.

Interestingly enough, this made me think of those Duranies who have taken or will take their kiddos to go see Duran. Rhonda and I took both her daughters to shows, for example. I never really thought much about the fans who bring their kids to Duran functions. Up until now, part of me probably didn’t really get it. I mean I can understand why fans would want their kids to also love Duran Duran. I get that. I would love for that to be the case with my nieces. But to take them to shows? I have taken my oldest niece to see the Killers with me but Duran is different. Would they be as into as me? What if I want to party that night? Could they go where I go? Now, though, in thinking about my White Sox fandom, I think I get it more. I totally understand wanting to really share the love of something with your family and having it unite the family. The question that I have is does age matter? In order for this to happen, do the kids have been exposed from day one?

-A

I think you might have noticed that there was not a question of the day today. I’m taking a break with them while with my family. They will return on Tuesday!

Crazy About Boybands, So They Say

Sorry the blog is late today. I’m trying to steal away the last few days with family for a summer “staycation” before we are back to school.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been doing some reading as of late – and yesterday I found myself watching a British television documentary on One Direction fans. The program was titled “Crazy for One Direction”, and chances are – everyone on the planet has already heard of this but me.

Crazy sells

I sat down to watch knowing that One Direction fans were furious when it was originally aired. They felt betrayed and a bit cheated because the director tended to weigh filming more heavily on what the fans felt was the most extreme portrayals of fandom, rather than focusing on how the overwhelming majority tend to express themselves. I watched purely because I wanted to see how those fans were really portrayed. The title alone, complete with the word “Crazy” – made me cringe.

As I watched, I saw behaviors that were not really that far off from what I’ve witnessed even as a Duran Duran fan. Sure, if you took specific incidents to heart – I suppose some situations felt a bit out-of-hand. Context matters, but I suspect the full intention of the director was to show the extremes. This is something I’ve grown very accustomed to even as an adult – as I’ll come back to a bit later.

What I will say though, is that despite fandom itself being a gender-neutral sort of activity, this documentary focused SOLELY on females. No males aside from the band and perhaps a wayward adult male or two were seen in the documentary, and certainly not interviewed. I highly doubt there are zero male One Direction fans in the same way that I know for certain there were male Duran Duran fans back in the day (and many more now!). This very obvious slant enrages me as someone who not only studies, but participates in fandom because of the obvious implications that continue to be made about female-specific fandoms.

Context is everything

The director speaks with two teens (the interviews were done in the girls’ bedrooms – and in every case, their walls were wallpapered with One Direction pictures and pinups) about what they might do in order to meet the band.

The girls giggle, as one answers, “I wouldn’t kill a puppy, but I might kill a cat!” She is chided by her friend – and she quickly backpedals. I suppose that to some adults, that answer might seem a little too far into crazy-town, but they’re KIDS. Exaggerations go with that territory. Maybe it is comes with being a mom, but I wouldn’t have been worried if it had been my kid. We would have, however, had a little chat about wording and context while in the public eye.

We know the exact time of their birth, and the hotel they’re staying at!

They speak about Twitter, explaining, “We can find out everything about them.” Even the tiniest personal details about the band, such as their exact birth times, can and have been mined and shared via Twitter. Directioners rely on Twitter as though it were a life line, particularly when they wish to track the band’s every movement. It surprised me to see how easily the teens were able to find the band while they were touring, and of course this subject sparked discussion of actually meeting the band – which for this community (as well as our own in many aspects) is of paramount importance.

The girls seem to take pride in giving exact numbers for the amount of times they’d met One Direction, explaining (just as fans who have met Duran Duran multiple times) that finding the band “takes time and a lot of patience. We’re not lucky, we work hard.” They suggest that other fans just don’t bother, or don’t try and that because they go the extra mile – they are rewarded for their efforts. “They say I’m a stalker and that people [presumably she means the band themselves or management] don’t like it, but I don’t care.”

Border-policing

One of the teens interviewed comes across an online post suggesting that one of the boys (the band, of course) should die. There is an immense line of cursing and violent suggestions of what should happen to the person who created the post. It is border-policing (what fans do to keep one another in line) at it’s most extreme.

I don’t think anyone would disagree when I write that fandom can be intense. It certainly was portrayed as such in the documentary. That intensity runs like a river throughout every possible nuance of the One Direction fandom, good and bad. These are young women who recognize that much of their fandom has to do with being a part of a larger group. It is a community. More than one of the girls interviewed commented on the friendships she’d made as a result. That can’t be bad….although one of those interviewed mentioned that she is part of a fan community that “can kill you if they decide”. That’s the double-edged sword of fandom. What builds you up can also slice and dice like a Ginsu, I suppose.

Is it Larry….or JoSi???

Then there are the shippers. One Directioners have a fantasy/fanfic going about Liam and Harry – they call it “Larry-shipping”. There are stories, memes, and even fan drawings and paintings about “Larry”.

Before scoffing, I’d just like to remind everyone of “JoSi”. It is indeed, a thing.

Ultimately, the longer I watched, the more I realized that these teenagers are no different than I was at their age – although most of them enjoy far more freedom than I did. However, as the documentary concluded, I recognized something more.

I can’t really say that these girls are much different at 15, than many of us are at 40, 45, or even 50. I still see people my age chase after the band after a show. I’ve watched people follow Simon right into a restaurant, or wait just outside. Many of us have shed tears at concerts, or become tongue-tied when we meet the band. Information of all-sorts is spread via social media, and we border-police ourselves as good as it gets. The label “stalker” is thrown around rather liberally – and truthfully, we are the kings and queens of double standards when it comes to this band. Anything we do to meet them is fine until we see somebody else doing it, then it is judge, judge, judge all the way.

I don’t know how I feel about that connection. On one hand, I can see the obvious – perhaps we never quite grew up. I became a Duran Duran fan at the age of 11 or 12, maybe I still feel that way when I hear them play to some extent. Feeling young again isn’t a bad thing. On the other hand, I’m nearly 49. I’m still trying to sort that out, I guess. My advice? Watch the documentary for yourself and decide. I’d love to read what you think!

Watching these girls tell their story was very much like watching us tell ours – and then having the media decide to play it up as though we’re far too crazy to be roaming free on the streets. For me personally though, this documentary wasn’t nearly as cringe-worthy as watching “Something You Should Know” – which is our own fan documentary. The fact is, extremism sells.

This is something that Amanda and I know firsthand. We’ve written more than one manuscript that has been submitted and rejected by publishers at this point. While with each one we’ve sharpened our pencils and improved our research, writing, and voice(s) – we’ve also learned that virtually no one cares about the positive things that fandom has done. Publishers aren’t interested in reading about friendships that have been created, or the sense of community. They want to know the dirty. Editors want to read the torrid tales. Slept with the band? Snuck onto a bus? Verbally threatened another fan who dared get in our way? They want to read about crazy. The widespread belief, of course, is that female fans are crazy.

It is unfair when you think about it. Men could follow Bruce Springsteen around the country on tour, and not only would they be held up as heroes amongst fellow fans – they’d get press, and the slant would be incredibly positive – “it’s about the music and the brotherhood, man”. Let women follow Bruce around, and it suddenly becomes a whole lot less about the music…because what could women possibly know, right?

Let me know what you think after you watch the documentary!

-R

Fan-made Time is Durantime

I don’t know if Amanda or I have flat-out written the words here, but we’ve been working on a new project. Right now, it is not much more than a very basic outline – topics, basically – of a direction we’d like to take, but we’re both reading, and doing some researching, and reflecting. I don’t think either of us have quite given up the dream of having something published, but it has taken us quite a while to decide to try writing again.

So with that in mind, yesterday I was reading about teen fans of bands such as One Direction and The Beatles. While there are many, many things I could write about here – ways fans have been marginalized, or how pop was created for women (true story!), I’m going to stick to something a little more basic and easy-reading.

I’ve been reading, writing and studying fans now for as long as we’ve been writing this blog (longer, actually). I am continually learning new terms and angles to see things. Yesterday, I learned about “fan made” time, which applies directly to us as Duran Duran fans.

In this community, we have something called “Durantime”, which is a well-loved moniker we’ve applied to the wait-time in between albums, projects, tours, etc. In our case, “Durantime” not only describes the time, but it also has come to be known as the clock the band uses (which is unlike any clock or calendar I’ve ever known). In this sense, we hear things like “the album will be done when it is done” – which is Durantime for “it could take decades. Probably should go get yourself some sustenance and another hobby while you wait!” Or, “we hope to tour next year” which could easily mean, “we hope to travel to Mars.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating a little…and maybe poking a little bit of fun at the guys. Hey, at least I didn’t mention that one time when Roger announced that the album would be finished by year end and instead it took another couple of years!

Oh wait. I just mentioned it. Oops!

Regardless, “fan-made” time is the wait in between present and whatever anticipated event is coming next. That could be a show, a tour, a movie, interview, appearance, etc. The term is rather elastic and fits just about everything. In my opinion, the word “Durantime” is far catchier, but a lot less generic. What makes fan-made time such an interesting topic though, is that it is one way fans have taken back control.

What does that mean? Well, we have zero control over when the band tours or when the new album is coming out…or even when they plan…IF they plan…to do anything more to celebrate #DD40. So, fans do what they can with that downtime and “in-between” space. They control that piece but doing countdowns, having fan parties, creating whatever content they wish during that time. It is about the fans continuing the party without the guests of honor, so to speak.

The thing about fan-made time is that even while we’re sitting outside of a GA venue, or waiting in line at whatever event might be taking place, we’re creating that fan space. Talking to friends in line, organizing ourselves into a systematic group, even chatting about the set list, or taking surveys or citing our own fan stories are all ways we manage fan-made time. I would say it is THAT space where (and when) we go from being relative strangers to a community.

Fan-made time as Duran Duran fans in the same way that fangirls of other bands do. They might be two decades younger, or lived out their concert days in the 60s, but we all do the same things. Just a little something of interest from yesterday’s reading…

-R

So Complicated Part 2

Yesterday’s blog talked how simple fandom can be in as I wrote about the three interactions I had with random people who either were fans or knew fans of Duran. At the time, I found myself envying the simplicity. It was just a matter of liking the band’s music. In one case, that’s all there was. The woman in the second case went further in that she attended concerts near her and the last case, the person talked about how big of a fan he was. Yet, I suspect that while these fans like Duran, they do not participate in the fan community at all. They might not know other fans and might not talk about the band much. There is no traveling for shows, friending or following other fans, collecting merchandise or any other fandom practice. Their fandom can be described as casual.

I, of course, am on the other end of the spectrum in that my fandom consists of producing new material related to being a fan (like this blog!). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am a bigger or better fan by acknowledging that. I’m just pointing out that I devote more time and money to fandom than these people do. (Again, maybe, I’m the crazy one!) We just express our fandom differently. One is not better or more important than the other. In meeting these people, a part of me was jealous of them. It must be nice and easy to just be a casual fan. I know that it is easy for me to be a Killers fan as I just buy the albums and go to concerts nearby. That is the extent of my fandom there. No one in the fan community knows me and I don’t know any of them. Part of me wishes that is how things can be for me in the Duran world.

So, the first question is why? Sometimes, being part of a fan community is tough. Initially, it might feel totally awesome as you are meeting tons of people who love the same band you do. You can gush about how fabulous the music is or how there is nothing better than their concerts. But, then, you realize that it is not that simple. Some fans might not like how you express your fandom or disagree with your fandom philosophy and you to them. For example, some fans enjoy reading this blog. Others might never click on it, thinking that Rhonda and I are terrible people. Sometimes, people love what we have to say or do and others totally disagree with us. By writing this blog, it put us in a position in which we can be judged. I am not saying that to earn sympathy. On the contrary, we knew that criticize was going to happen and still went ahead and wrote the blog anyway. We accepted how this was going to go, for the most part. While we get it, it doesn’t always make things easy.

The next question is can I go back? If I stopped writing the blog tomorrow, could I go back to be like those casual fans I met this week? When I think about my real life, the people I run into and interact with, I know that if I stopped listening to Duran today, they would still associate me with the band. A couple of weeks ago, a friend from high school was passing the area when Duran apparently came on the radio. She immediately thought of me and messaged me to get together. Duran Duran leads people in my life to think of me. That would not change if I stopped writing this blog or even stopped being a fan. What about in the fan community? Could I go back to being anonymous there? I don’t think I could get rid of every evidence of this blog existing or all of the meetups we have done. Could I be anonymous at concerts? I have met a lot of fans at concerts. Would I want those people to forget me? Could I forget them, especially those fans who go to a lot of concerts? I don’t think so.

Finally, would I really want to go back to how things were in 2003 or early 2004? As much as that might be easier, I have never been one for easy. I am teacher. That is not exactly the easiest profession. I’m also an activist. Both of those are such that I work really hard for sometimes minimal changes. Yet, I don’t give up. Even when things are tough in our fan community, I cannot see myself walking away. I am part of this fan community and always will be.

-A

So Complicated Part 1

Sometimes, I need a reminder that fandom can be simple.  I have had three in the last few days.  Then, of course, the follow up question is: “Could I go back to simple like this?  Is it even possible?  Would I want to?”

My brother and sister-in-law were visiting this week.  On Wednesday, we went to a zoo and a local museum of sorts.  I didn’t think too much about this plan when I got dressed so I put on a Duran Duran t-shirt.  Let’s face it.  It is the summer.  I wear t-shirts pretty much every day.  The fact that it was a Duran shirt added nothing of interest to my day or so I thought.  Yet, it provided me of a reminder that fandom really can be simple. 

One of the first stops we made on Wednesday after the zoo was a coffee shop.  I was in desperate need of some caffeine and a break from running around.  As we got into the coffee shop, the barista noticed my shirt and said, “I like your shirt.”  I didn’t even remember what the heck I was wearing.  I glanced down and mumbled a quick thank you, wondering if I should be embarrassed, proud or indifferent.  I went with the latter before I turned my attention back to the menu.  Before I could order, the guy beyond the counter says, “Duran Duran.  They are an old band.”  Rather than be insulted, I said, “Well, they are still around, you know?  They still make new music and tour.  They played like a week ago, in fact.”  The guy seemed shocked as he mumbled an “I didn’t know that.”  If this interaction happened years ago, I might have been annoyed that he was so ignorant but now, I had a burst of excitement in that I could educate this guy.  Will he go out and buy Paper Gods?  I don’t know but he might. 

Not an hour or so later, I found myself getting information from the front desk clerk at this museum of sorts when I was interrupted by another employee saying, “I love your shirt.  I love Duran Duran.  You know it took me 22 years to see them live.  22 years.  I always wanted to see them live but my mom wouldn’t let me.  They haven’t played in Madison since I a kid, you know. So I had to go see them in Milwaukee as part of the Astronaut Tour.”  Before I could overthink things, I commented about how great the band is live and how I, too, was at that Milwaukee show.  I thought about mentioning how I have seen them live since and I travel to do so but I didn’t. Would this woman really care?  Would that diminish her experience?  Figuring that it might, I let it go.  She doesn’t care what I have done.  She ended by saying that she hoped to see them again and I concurred, loving the idea of them playing in Wisconsin while not holding my breath for it at the same time.

Then, yesterday, I was at a meeting for work when I was asked about concerts by my boss.  Had I seen Duran Duran this summer he wanted to know.  I, of course, have not and responded as such.  He then wondered aloud if I had “maxed out” on them.  Ah…no.  Not exactly.  He tried to tell me about someone else he knows who loves the band.  Okay.  Cool. Part of me wanted to meet the person he referred to while the other part was nervous about that. Would this other fan be cool?  Would I have to prove myself to him?  Would he to me? Then, I realized that none of that would matter. It isn’t about that.

These three people reminded me that being a fan can be as simple as liking someone or something. Yes, for some people that might mean liking a song or two like I suspect was the deal with the coffee shop guy. For others, they might take it further by attending concerts nearby. Still, some might be known to be “big fans.” Is one better than the other? No. I could say that the “big fan” might take their fandom more seriously. They might spend more time or money on their fandom but they might not.

With each of these interactions, I had the same overall feeling. First, I was happy that others like the band. Then, I had moments of being envious of them. They clearly aren’t part of the fan community. No one in the community knows them. They are anonymous. They are free to love the band as much or as little as possible. Sometimes, I wish for that as it might feel freeing. Could I do that, though? Would I really want to give up the blog? Could I retreat back to that anonymous situation? What else would I have to give up? To be continued…

-A

Running Like a Fox

Ain’t your problem

One of the trickiest things about our fan community – is that while we are all here because we love the music, the way that fandom manifests for each one of us is very different. I don’t think we can judge fandom using one particular sort of barometer. It is a mistake I fell into early on in my fandom studies.

I believe, for the most part – and strictly when it comes to die-hard fans, there are likely two, perhaps three, different groups of people. The first group are the creators – they’re people who like to create content (of any kind) to go along with being a fan. Maybe they write blogs, maybe they do podcasts, make fanzines, design jewelry – it’s all content of one form or another. The next group collects. Those people might collect shows (meaning they go to as many as possible), or posters, or albums…or all of it! The final group might be the largest because they’re the consumers. Maybe they do a little of all of it: they buy the albums, go to the shows, and do the creative things. They aren’t doing more in one area than another. It’s fairly equal.

Even though we each might fit into one of those groups, I still don’t think there is, or should be, a barometer in order to judge who does what “the best” or “the most”. That’s the problem. It isn’t supposed to be a contest, yet for some bizarre reason, we try to make it one. I think this goes mostly for the females amongst us, but perhaps male fans find this also to be true.

What you say

This seems to happen often in our community, particularly lately. I used to joke about this going on between albums, but it is true. I think we get bored. We go after our own. It isn’t pretty. It is one reason why I’m glad the band has done a few things in between recording sessions (which have apparently taken place far more often than I’d realized). It has only been within the last few weeks that I’ve noticed the Duraniverse getting a bit restless.

I know it is a trying time. Summer is hot. People are anxious for whatever is coming next. It can be difficult to remind ourselves that we’re grown adults and to give one another some grace and respect. This is something I need to put into practice, and will continue working on.

Another rattle in your brain

Just today I was talking with a friend. We were commiserating over how we felt walking in to a crowded bar of Duranies. I definitely have felt in the past as if all eyes were on me, giving me the once over. Hello again, Sunflower Intermediate and your main locker hallway. My mom would constantly tell me not to worry about what the other, more popular girls said as I walked down the hall. “You’re there to learn, not to get into it with other people, Rhonda.”

(that never worked for me)

Isn’t it strange that even as many of us are edging ever closer to 50 than 40, all it takes is to walk into a room of our peers, or see something online that doesn’t sit well, to shove us straight back to the halls of junior high? Why is that? Why do we let it get to ourselves so easily?

-R

From This Cloud Where I Hang

Dangled in the blue

I quit Girl Scouts when I was in fourth grade. I think it might have been near the beginning of the school year, because I have no memory of actually wearing the green junior uniform my mom had bought me that summer. My brownie troop had combined with a junior troop, and several of the girls in that troop were popular, and immediately decided they didn’t like me. These fifth grade girls took it upon themselves to comment on every single thing I did wrong, from my clothes, to my hair, to the way I spoke. The friends I previously had in our troop stopped wanting to be my partner when we’d go on field trips, because the other girls made it very clear that anyone who hung out with me was as big of a loser as I was.

Slowly but surely, I stopped wanting to go to troop meetings. I’d been playing clarinet for a while by this time, and it wasn’t long before my dad suggested I make choices about what activities I wanted to stick with and ones I was willing to give up. Girl Scouts was immediately chopped because I knew I was the odd girl out.

I quit sorority in college for the same reasons, although there were financial concerns to help me double down on my decision. In hindsight, I don’t know what I was thinking when I went through Rush to begin with. I’ve never gotten along with groups of girls, and the more popular and/or catty they are, the worse it becomes. ZTA was no different. I had a group of a few pledge sisters that I was very close with, but other than that – many within my sorority house grew to dislike me. Let’s face it, I’m very outspoken, blunt, and quick to be annoyed by drama – and I was no different in 1991. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and believe me, I had no false hopes that I was liked by many people. When I left, I’m sure it was a relief for them as much as it was for me and my wallet. Fitting in was not an option for me.

I wish that I could be like you

I suppose you can say I’m socially awkward. I’m not insulted by that. In a lot of ways, I feel a little less weight on my shoulders when I just admit it. I’m not cool, I’m not put together. I’m me. That awkwardness sometimes makes it a little difficult to meet people, which is why I remain thankful I met Amanda so early on. She and I talk about that a lot, and I think that’s why we first decided to try hosting a meet up back when we’d started the blog. I mean, if she and I – two of the more awkward people on the planet, I presume (sorry Amanda) could meet and become best friends, couldn’t others? Shouldn’t we help other Duranies like ourselves find their people?

Our plan was simple: invite people to come hang out with us before a show. If NOTHING else, we could talk about Duran Duran, right? It is always common ground to start from. While I don’t take credit, we’ve seen wonderful friendships start at some of our events. I’m grateful to be able to see those connections happen. If something as easy as mentioning what bar we’re going to be hanging out at, and inviting others to join us, helps somebody find a friend, I’m overjoyed. The friendships have nothing to do with me personally, but it warms my heart to see somebody who might have just as much trouble in a crowd as I do, find their person to go to shows with. That matters to me more than I can even put into words.

As a result, we’ve been having meet ups for nine years. Whenever the band is touring, or has a show that we can get to – we try to do something. Although, Amanda and I are also the first to say we can’t always meet before every show we attend. We’ve tried though, and if we couldn’t meet before, usually do something after. We know what it is like to come out of a Duran Duran gig on a high and have nowhere to go, or anyone to talk to. So we try to plan something – even if it’s just sitting at a bar, or even standing outside of a venue to talk. We just try to include people, make them feel comfortable, and hope the community grows as a result.

Love is flawed now

This time, we’ve done some advertising for our meet up – and that accomplishes a number of things. First, every single time we go to a show and then get back home, Amanda and I get messages from fans who aren’t super involved in the community (or are brand new) saying they wish they’d heard about our party. No matter how many times we announce it here on the blog or on Twitter and Facebook, it is difficult to make sure everyone sees it. Running a Facebook ad campaign helps a little. Second, the ad works to get people curious about Daily Duranie, and from there they can look up our FB page, and then our website. Just like anything else, ads work to stir up traffic, and we need that from time to time, or else there’s never any growth.

The ads aren’t just to promote the party, even though at first glance that’s what they’re about. If someone can’t go to the party, maybe they’d look up our name and see our page, and then check out the blog itself. Ads are a great way to spread the word about our site and blog.

See the lawless cry

We’ve invested a lot of our own time, energy and yes, money, into Daily Duranie. This site and blog is our labor of love. It has never turned into a business for us, exactly, but I think Amanda would agree that we’ve both gotten a great amount of joy from it, and to be blunt- it kept me alive when not much else seemed to keep me going. I know some people think we’re crazy for investing so much into this, but the fact is – we’ve gotten more out of Daily Duranie on a personal level than we have ever put into it.

None of this is really about Duran Duran, though. We never had grand schemes that this blog would get us in front of a band member or four, Although, we’ve run into many people over the years who seem to be incredulous that we haven’t been given access to them. At first when people would tell us about how so-and-so gets free tickets, etc,I guess we were naively hopeful. That came to a halt quickly, though. In hindsight – we were foolish. Even if we had gotten in front of them, or had been given comp tickets, what then? No, we didn’t do this for free tickets, or for access—not really for any of that, although I’m sure that is hard to believe if you’re not Amanda or I.

The thing is, we write what we want to write. We feel what we want to feel, and we have been doing it that way for nine years. You don’t do something like this for very long, much less nine years, unless something other than meeting the band is your motivation (particularly because the closest we’ve gotten to them, collectively speaking, is in front of a stage at a gig). My motivation, to be honest – is just being liked. For once in my life, I just wanted to be liked, included and accepted, even with all my socially awkwardness. If I’m one of two people planning the events and writing the posts, I’m included!

Cut my cord now

Events over the past week or so have made me think twice, and maybe even three times, about what Amanda and I are really trying to accomplish. My biggest weakness is that I worry over what people think of me. I’m well-aware that there are some within the fan community that I’ll never quite win over. I know that I’ve written things that have upset people here and there. It is no secret that I’m not in the current “popular” crowd, and to come toe-to-toe with those people might mean dealing with their ire in force. I don’t like any of that. I just know that we’ve been connecting fans for nine years, and have no plans of stopping now. This time, I’m not quitting.

So here’s the thing: we’re having two meet ups in Las Vegas. They’re Saturday and Sunday at 5pm in The CliQue Bar downstairs in the Cosmopolitan. Amanda and I will be there hanging out and having drinks (and food) before the show whether a hundred people show, or we’re the only people in the bar. We would love company. If you’re already friends of ours, we can’t wait to see you! If you’re new to the community and don’t know anyone, we will happily introduce you to anyone we can. In all cases, expect that we’ll be chatting about the music, and having a great time!

I would be very unfair if I didn’t mention that there’s also another group having a Duran Duran Fan event in the main bar of The Cosmopolitan earlier in the day on Saturday – I believe it is at 1pm. I’m sure it’s going to be a great crowd of people. Amanda and I don’t feel like anyone needs to “choose” which event to attend, and we’re happy to see other Duran fans planning fun events for all of us to enjoy that weekend. Too much is NEVER enough, isn’t that right???

(I heard that somewhere…)

-R

To hear the drum

Over the weekend, I chatted back and forth with another Duranie about drumsticks. She’d gotten Roger’s sticks recently, and I’d congratulated her on social media, mentioning that I don’t even have a pair. Somehow over the years, I’ve never been that lucky. There was one time I came close, though. Another, much taller man right beside me grabbed them in midair, and you know – that’s the way it goes. After that, I realized it was silly to keep trying. Someone always wants them a little more, or is a little luckier in the process.

Anyway, this person was thrilled to have secured sticks from Roger. She encouraged me to keep trying for them, and asked where I’d be sitting at the upcoming shows I’m attending. I explained that in most cases, I’m really too far back. Although I’ve had front row a few times now, I haven’t tried for sticks.

I thought about that after our conversation ended. Roger was my favorite band member from the first moments I became a fan. He still IS my favorite, but it’s different in adulthood than in teen years—at least for me. For a few years, I held up signs for him at shows, but I don’t do that anymore. I don’t know when it stopped, or why. On second thought, I do know about when, and certainly why I left the signs at home. I became more aware of the fact that due to this site – more people knew me. I’ve always been a bit self-conscious, and that hasn’t changed with age.

Jungle drums they all clear the way for me

Fandom for me, is a tangled mess. That much, I know for sure. Part of it is, I’m well-aware that I write a fan blog. That alone is enough to make people smirk, and yes – it bothers me. I mean, it’s one thing to say you’re a huge fan. Even that might get grins when you’re amongst people who don’t really understand there is life after the age of 30 or even 40. Then when they ask how many shows you’ve gone to. I usually say “around 50”. The expressions change from amusement to almost concern, and then back to a smirky, snarky, sort of partial grin. But then, if I dare go one further (and I don’t always) by announcing that I run a fan blog/website dedicated to Duran Duran fans, that’s when the eyes roll and I can see a slight recoil, as though they’re trying to back away. This comes in especially handy at family gatherings, and workplace events for my husband.

In all seriousness though, I don’t like the characterization much. I’m pretty sure I’m not a crazy person, but the very second one backs up a statement such as “Not only have I gone to a lot of concerts, but I own and operate a fan blog dedicated to Duran Duran”, with a phrase like,“I’m not crazy, though”, it’s too late. My fate, and the corresponding label, already been granted. I must be one of those certifiably crazy obsessive fans.

Just a toy that you keep at home

I suppose that while there were a number of reasons why I stopped asking for sticks – one big one was because I thought that the more obsessive I acted, the more I asked for stuff, the less-serious people would take the blog. I didn’t want to be the punchline in someone’s joke.

Here’s a little nugget I’ve learned, but still wrestle with, over the nine years we’ve blogged. It doesn’t matter. At this point, people have already made their decisions about Daily Duranie, and particularly about me as a person. Holding up signs, asking for sticks, pictures, or even hugs from people I care about, isn’t going to make a bit of difference. People either like the blog, or they discount it completely. My internal struggle, or my anxiety, comes from knowing I can’t change any of it, but wishing that I could. For me, I think that constant inner tug-of-war is my Achilles heel. I seek approval and acceptance, from everyone, everywhere. It is an impossible task.

Several years ago, I asked Dom for a guitar pick before he left the stage after a concert. Not only did he flick the one he had been using my way (amazingly enough, I caught it), but he sent his guitar tech out to throw the rest of his picks from his mic stand at me. Other people eagerly grabbed those, but I didn’t care because I had the one he’d used just two minutes prior. I still have that pick in my jewelry box. I’ve never known what else to really do with it. I think the memories of getting it, or running into him after a show and having him come over to say hi, or giving me a quick hug in a hallway, are more precious to me than the pick itself.

With the strays and the damaged

I don’t know if I’ll ever hold up a sign for Roger again. I still feel weird about doing it, even though I know I probably shouldn’t. Also, I don’t know if having sticks would really make a difference. Would it make me feel like any more of a fan? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong – getting sticks is cool, but is it any more exciting than speaking to him at a signing? I’m really not sure much could top that moment for me, and it’s just a memory at this point. I don’t even have video or recording of our brief conversation. My point is, maybe someone else really wants them and needs them. I wouldn’t feel right about taking them when I know of someone else who has desperately wanted them.

I have so much work to do, personally. My anxiety, while better now that I’m living in a semi-rural and peaceful place, still plagues me more than I want to admit. I continue worrying about how other people see me, see the blog, or see my fandom, entirely too much. I’m a work in progress, but I’m getting there.

-R

Ah, That Die-Hard Fan Thing

Please, please tell me now

Last week, a friend of mine asked if I thought one could even be considered a die hard fan if they weren’t upset about John leaving the band back in the late 1990s.

Granted, the comment, or rather, the question, was said in jest. At the time, I said I wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole.

Maybe what I should have said was that I wouldn’t touch the subject unless I were planning on writing a blog in advance, knowing I wouldn’t be around to manage the aftermath!!

Is there something I should know?

Seriously though – in answering that question, I think one has to have an idea of what “die-hard” even means. Funnily enough, I think we all have an image of what that might entail in our own heads. Maybe you think a die-hard is someone who doesn’t miss a tour. Perhaps you believe a die-hard fan travels to all the shows, or maybe they’re someone that many within the fan community know and recognize.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s one set definition, and as I explained last week – I’m definitely not going to be the person to start defining it. At the very least…… I won’t be doing that while I’m sober! We all have our own ideas of what a die hard fan is. Chances are, we either think we fit that definition and are proud of it, or we work very hard to tell ourselves that we’re not…THAT kind of fan.

For many fans, the day John left the band was one of the saddest days of their lives. Others felt that way when it was Roger, or Andy…either time. For still many others though, they didn’t notice the absence all that much. Maybe John wasn’t a favorite, or maybe their attitude was simply that as long as Simon is singing, it’s Duran Duran. I can remember going to see Duran Duran at the House of Blues in 2001. I purposefully kept my eyes on Simon and Nick, willing myself to believe I was seeing all five original members, ignoring Warren and the others onstage. It was utterly ridiculous now that I think back on it, but I was a young(er) pup then. What about you?

People stare and cross the road from me

Opinions and loyalties are often the spark applied to the powder keg of arguments when it comes to fandom. None of us are unbiased. If we were, chances are, we wouldn’t be fans at all – much less hold that super special, “die-hard” label. My own personal opinion is that if you’re a fan of Duran Duran – then you’re a fan of the band. Die-hard, casual fan, or blogger! It shouldn’t matter whether or not you were upset that John left. Others might believe that only the die-hardest (that’s a word, right?!?) of them all would feel as though John’s absence was like missing part of your heart.

Quite frankly, it is all pretty dramatic for me on a Monday (because that’s when I’m writing this) afternoon. It isn’t even wine-o’clock yet!

Someday, when I least expect it, someone will hand me many vodka tonics and then ask the fateful question, “What is the definition of a die-hard fan, Rhonda?”

That’s liable to be a rough one.

-R