It’s been a year since Durandemonium. Obviously Rhonda & Amanda have shared their journeys and feelings about it with us, and I wanted to share what that weekend meant to me as one of the attendees. As they have have both said, their primary goal was to bring people together. And boy they sure did.
I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even know if I wanted to go. I had only been to three Duran shows, and they were all just within the two prior years. My primary fandom had been in the early 1980s as a young teenager, but my fandom had reignited with the All You Need Is Now album. From what I read on this website and social media, so many other people had been to a lot of shows, through different albums and tours. How could I fit in? I was afraid that I’d be the freshman at Duranie High School and all the senior Duranies wouldn’t talk to me. Would everyone else be like those truly diehard fans I’d seen in “Something You Should Know?”
Fortunately I had some encouragement from two friends. My first connection was Lori. We had chatted online through the DDM forums and met up at the ill-fated Atlantic City show in August 2012. Yes, that pun was intended because the show was cancelled just before showtime because of Nick’s illness. Even though she’s West Coast and I’m East Coast, we’ve remained friends since that night (sound familiar R & A??). A few months later she told me she was on the convention planning committee, so I felt relieved that at least I’d know someone else there. If I decided to go, that is.
What sealed the deal for me was my friend Stephanie. We’ve been friends for a few years now, but we didn’t know we shared the Duran fandom until after we were already friends for a while. Until then I didn’t have anyone whom I could talk Duran stuff with, at least not in the present tense. Of course I had friends who liked them back in the ‘80s too, but when I mentioned Duran’s great new album, they either rolled their eyes or redirected the conversation back to our poster-boy crushes. Stephanie and I were curious about the convention, and we both read Daily Duranie pretty regularly. After some deliberation and clearing some vacation time, we finally made the commitment to go.
After a little pre-gaming at a nearby bar that afternoon, we arrived at registration. I guess I hadn’t pre-gamed enough because I was still nervous about meeting these people we’d committed to spending the weekend with. But in retrospect, this convention’s reception was like most others I’ve been to: some people walk in the door with someone they already know, some people squeal with delight when they see someone for the first time in years, and others simply take a seat and quietly begin to get comfortable with the people around them. Some of the games felt a little awkward at first, but after a while I relaxed because we were all in it together and that felt pretty awesome. I could finally let my Duran-freak flag fly. It was fun to find out how far people had traveled to be there. And I felt relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one who had seen fewer than 5 shows. They still let me hang out with them!
Next up Stephanie and I decided to meet up with bunch of others at Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar. I’m still torn as to what the best part was: either the gang getting up on stage to sing along to Rio and HLTW, or the double-D ink stamp we received at the door! I actually have a double-D tattoo on my wrist, so getting the stamp at the door blew my mind. I tried to explain to the stamp-giver how cool it was that he was stamping a “DD” on my wrist and I already had a “DD” on my wrist! He didn’t get it.
I really enjoyed Saturday morning’s author panel with Rhonda, Amanda, Elisa Lorello, and Karen Booth. Seeing four women who had combined writing with their passions for the band, the music, and the fandom was truly inspiring to me. I thought combining your job with something that you love was something only a few people in the world are able to do, but now I know that it is possible. Thank you all for sharing those insights and experiences with me.
My highlight of the weekend was definitely the private viewing of A Diamond In The Mind. To the convention committee and everyone else who was involved in presenting that: I can’t thank you enough. I’d never been to a private screening of anything before, so that was pretty cool. But watching the live concert film on the big screen was like being at a show again: we danced and sang along and had a ball! I think the only thing that could have possibly been better would have been a private concert by the band. That’s how awesome the experience was for me. In hindsight, this experience was probably the moment when I knew that I belonged. Knowing that everyone in that audience is there for the same reason I was, and had the same excitement that I did was affirming. I didn’t feel weird, or immature, or like someone who was stuck in the past. I felt like I had found my people.
The rest of the evening confirmed those feelings. At the banquet people dressed up in a variety of ways to represent their favorite song. I generally don’t enjoy wearing costumes or dressing for themes, but I put on my leopard blouse and went with it. By this point in the weekend I shouldn’t have been surprised that another person (or three) had the same idea as me. I was among a like-minded group of friends. Later I boarded the party bus bound for la-la-la Late Bar. The folks there gave us such a warm welcome and even had a specialty Sing Blue Silver cocktail ready for us! I’m not sure if the bar always plays new wave music on Saturdays but I loved it. They had their blocks of Duran videos and music ready for us, and showed us much love while we were there. Like any offbeat club, there were some offbeat characters there too. I can only surmise that they were part of the local Chicago culture and I’ll leave it at that. (Those who were there know what I am talking about.) In all I think it was a fun way to top off the night.
Sunday morning arrived and I was surprised that I was sad to say goodbye to new friends. The weekend had gone by too fast. I’m happy to say that I’m still in contact with several friends I met that weekend (thank you Facebook) and can’t wait to do it again! If anyone else feels that way, I recommend you lend your support by visiting the Cafe Press store. (This message was not approved by the Daily Duranie campaign; it is truly from my heart!)
Before Durandemonium, I was still a bit shy about my fandom for the band. When people asked why I was going to Chicago for the weekend, I avoided the truth and simply said I was going to catch up with some old friends. Turns out that was exactly what happened, only I hadn’t met those old friends yet.
PamG has been a Duranie since the early days of MTV. In addition to all-things Duran, she also enjoys music documentaries, pop culture trivia, and live concerts of any kind. Her Duran dream would be to journey across the pond and see the band play throughout Europe. After waiting over 25 years to see Duran Duran live, she saw her first show in 2011 and it changed her life.