What do I mean by fan gatherings? In my mind, these are one day/night or one weekend get togethers lead by Duranies, for Duranies. Would this include conventions? Absolutely. Would it include a showing of Sing Blue Silver? Sure. A weekend in a city? Yes. In my head, these types of get togethers are usually open to everyone or to anyone who is a Duranie. Are there get togethers between friends who are also fans? I’m sure but that isn’t what I’m thinking of here. I’m thinking of events that are planned in advance, filled with activities and are discussed on social networking sites or message boards. These events are, typically, not surrounding a show and are usually held in between shows or tours to help all of us deal with Duran downtime!
I have been to plenty of fan gatherings over the course of the years. Some of these have been rather formal and some have been informal, but most of them have been a blast! In fact, one of the most memorable fan gathering in my life was the Duran Duran Fans Convention held in New Orleans in 2004. I met so many great people there that weekend, including my partner-in-crime, and had my love for the band renewed and expanded. I also attended a weekend in Chicago in March of 2006 entitled Midwest MaDDness. It was there that I met many fans both in Chicago and in nearby states. Beyond that, I have also attended smaller more localized gatherings that just take place over one night. I loved going to all of these because I enjoy meeting other people with the same interest that I do. Duran was featured in most, if not all, of these events. For example, Duran was featured throughout the convention with the dinner/dance, to the scavenger hunt for Duran related locations, to trivia games and more. For the Midwest MaDDness weekend, we enjoyed watching Live from London together. For the smaller meet ups, it is common to watch Duran videos or DVDs. Of course, people also get a chance to share their stories, including the shows they went to, if they were lucky enough to meet the band, how they became a Duranie and more. I believe that all of this works to enhance one’s fandom and does help to pass the time in between tours and/or albums.
Interestingly enough, I have felt that these type of events were dying off. Personally, I hadn’t been to one in long time, but I also hadn’t seen or heard of ones taking place far away from where I live either. This led me to wonder why this is the case, which leads me back to a discussion I had in Chicago in April. In talking to these other fans, I realized that they do take place but they are typically done within groups of friends and are not open to the general public of Duranies. I can understand that as I have done that myself. For example, a number of us flew to Rhonda’s in California last November for her birthday. We didn’t include the whole Duranie community. Likewise, in the previous year, we got together in Chicago and didn’t invite others. I suspect that this isn’t because any of these get togethers want to exclude people but because a lot of us have established friendship groups and no longer need the large fan gatherings to see each other. The band was just the common interest to develop friendship. Yet, does this hurt the fan community? I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I’m not interested in opening up all of my get togethers to the whole fandom even if my friends and I are all “Duranies”. On the other hand, I think that gatherings should take place in order to keep the fandom alive. It feels good to be around other fans who think and feel like you do. Plus, I’m sure that there are many fans out there who don’t personally know other fans. They should have the opportunity to have fellow fans in their lives.
I’m happy to report that I’m starting to see some movement to planning fan gatherings. There is a group with a facebook page entitled Duran Duran Fan Fest Convention 2012. You can find the link here. They are just in the beginning stages in terms of trying to figure out a location for a convention. I know that I have mentioned to other Midwest Duranies that we are due for another weekend. Will it be like ones in the past? Probably not. Some people’s interest in Duran is less than it used to be. Other people won’t want to get together with some other fans, which happens, unfortunately, as people get to know each other. Not everyone is meant to be friends with everyone. That’s okay. It is okay if things change or that these fan gatherings change. That’s life. I think the important thing is that they still exist because they are a part of any healthy, current fandom.