Thirteen years ago on this date, I saw Duran Duran play in St. Louis. This show blew my mind despite the side seats, the massive headache I had and the excessive heat. (Seriously, it was over 100 degrees that weekend and the sweat just poured off of Simon. I felt bad for the band as it must have been three times as bad for them with the stage lights. Interestingly enough, I never saw one bead of sweat on Nick. Hmm…) Anyway, while the show was great, the after show is what sticks out the most in my mind.
Let me provide some context. This show took place during the second leg of the Astronaut tour. I had been to shows during the spring but still was pretty new to the ways of touring. I didn’t go with Rhonda but a couple of other friends. We had decided beforehand that we would try to find the band after the how. After all, I had tried during the spring with no luck and I kept seeing and reading about so many other fans who had their moments. I wanted a moment, too. I never questioned my desire to do this. To me, it just seemed to be what fans in this fan community do. More importantly than that, I never considered what would happen if we did. I never thought about how to act.
In order to achieve our goal, we did what so many have done since. We guessed a hotel. Yes, we were that awesome. Funny enough, though, we were right along with what seemed like hundreds of other Duranies. Once we got there, I made a decision. I would just try to get John Taylor’s autograph. That’s it. I wouldn’t ask for anything else. (Maybe this shows how naive I was. It seemed to me that so many other fans wanted/expected a lot more from the band whether that would be photos and autographs or photos and their time.) Quickly after that decision was made, the band pulled up. As the band members exited their vehicles, my group split, trying to get to the band member of choice. Looking back at this, it makes me cringe. Never once did I stop and think about how it the band members would have felt in having strange people approach them as they try to enter a hotel.
Soon enough, I reached the crowd surrounding John Taylor. Many of the people there seemed to be those professional autograph hunters who had tons of professional photos to get him to sign. I just wanted my poster signed. When I got to him, he kindly signed my poster. Then, I simply walked away. Mission accomplished. I went to go find my friends. I saw one talking to Roger. Did I say anything or do anything? Not really. I already got what I came for. (Later, I wondered if I should have asked for something. Did I miss an opportunity?) Then, I walked into the hotel to find my other friend. Once inside, I found John Taylor surrounded by people in the lobby. He could not move beyond the crowd. As people started to touch his arm, he turned looking for security. This made me uncomfortable. He seemed trapped. Did he want people touching him? Did he want all this attention? It got me thinking. Does being famous mean that you don’t have the right to consent or freedom of movement? Is that part of what he signed up for?
Fast forward a bit. I desperately needed something to drink. One of my friends had found a spot at the bar…next to Roger. Well, then. My mixed emotion self did not really know what to do. Do I try to butt in and get in the conversation? Do I leave her alone? I knew this much. I was dying of thirst. After all, it was ungodly hot that weekend. Perhaps, this was my way in. I could get a drink, which would give me a logical reason to be there. But it also meant standing there for awhile to get someone’s attention to take my request. After a few minutes of just standing there, I left. I distinctly remember feeling just foolish on top of not really knowing where my comfort level was as a fan. How do I manage to have my fan moment without doing something that makes me feel uneasy?
The next day forced me to think more about the issue as the message boards exploded with posts and comments about the post-show activities. Many fans were excited for those who shared their moments or their photos. Still, others criticized the fans there, implying that some crossed the line. I had no idea that there was even differing philosophies when it came to interactions between fans and the subject(s) of their fandom. All of a sudden, the fan community felt a little less safe to me. After all, many included me with the group of fans who were harassing the band. Did I? Looking back, maybe I did. I followed some of the people I was with. Maybe I shouldn’t have.
By even the next day, I knew that while I, too, still wanted my moment, I needed to decide about how I would ever act in that situation again. I starting figuring out what makes me uncomfortable for either myself or a band member. Notice I said what makes me uncomfortable, where my line is. That line might be very different for others. I get that. Heck, I don’t think I totally have it figured out for myself. I am still learning. One thing I feel strongly about now, in 2018, that I didn’t even really think about before that night is St. Louis is touching. I know that if I ever see a band member or anyone else famous, for that matter, there is no way that I would touch that person without seeking consent first. Have I always done that? No but it is something I am working on with people in my life as well and when I have done it, I feel really good about the interaction. Let me give an example. When I met President Obama, I consciously decided that I would assume nothing about how the interaction was going to go. I was there, along with others who had worked on his campaign. We were lined up to meet him. I watched to see how he greeted people ahead of me. When it was my turn, he opened his arms for a hug which I happily returned. Besides touching, I have also decided that I really like giving anyone famous space. I won’t surround someone as that would make me uncomfortable.
I know that many people out there might disagree with my philosophy. You all might be saying…but they are famous. They had to know what they signed up for. I think they signed up lots of media attention, sure. People want to know them and know what they are up to, but, personally, I think they should have the right to their own bodies. It is okay if you disagree with me. Fans do not always have to be agreement. It doesn’t make me a better fan or a bigger fan. All it means is that after 13 years, I’m starting to get an idea of who I am and what I believe in as a fan. It has taken me a long time to get to this point. I have made a lot of mistakes. Heck, I did 13 years ago today. That night, that weekend provided a crash course in fandom that I didn’t ask for and didn’t know that I needed. Looking back, I’m thankful for the experience. It taught me a lot about fandom, but about myself, too.