Tag Archives: Durandemonium

The Music is Still Between Us: Durandemonium 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this date in 2013, Duranies descended upon the fine city of Chicago for Durandemonium.

Held at a small, efficient-yet-boutiquey hotel (that no longer exists under the same name or brand) in downtown Chicago, fans from as far as Canada and the UK came together to celebrate Duran Duran over the course of a weekend. Activities ranged from a first night out at Howl at the Moon, where Duranies were invited onstage for their own rendition of none other than “Hungry Like the Wolf” (If the whole “writing about fandom” thing doesn’t work out – there’s absolutely no future in singing onstage for me), to an author panel and a private screening of Diamond in the Mind in a local Chicago theatre. The celebration culminated with a themed-banquet and after party at what has to be one of the best named alternative-music neighborhood clubs in the country – Late Bar.

It wasn’t just the activities that made the weekend special. It is the friendships that were created. Amanda and I love getting notes from people who went to the convention and still talk about how much fun it was. That’s how Amanda and I feel about the convention we attended in New Orleans in 2003. The activities were great, but the times we remember most were the talking and laughing in small groups. If I could bottle that part of what it takes to make a convention successful, I’d carry it with me forever.

Amanda and I have been approached countless times since that weekend about doing another. In the past we’ve even started the planning, only to be railroaded by one thing or another and forced to put the idea aside. Money is always an issue. Conventions are not cheap. Even our convention in Chicago required several thousands of dollars up front, and as one might imagine – blogging does not pay those kinds of bills. Time is another sticky problem. Planning a convention can take hundreds of man-hours, which are not always readily available. We’ve considered doing an event at a club one evening, and then suggesting a hotel to stay at to make a weekend out of it, so it’s more of a get together than actual convention, but because the two of us live a few states apart, the logistics are a problem. We’re in Duran downtime now though, so perhaps it is time to give it all more consideration.  Personally I think it would be a blast to pick a city, meet up at a hotel, and do a Duranie slumber party!  There’s still our dream of paying the band to come and perform a private gig, too (Who does not dream of that? Right after I win the lottery – I’m on it!)

I’ve had the chance to not only attend, but plan two enjoyable, cathartic events as a fan. Three if you count that one time I flew to Chicago on a whim for a weekend so that I could go to March MaDDness (a one night fan get together) with Amanda in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. I’ve marveled over this fan community before, but going to a fan event like a convention changed my entire life. I want nothing more than to recreate the same safe space for other fans. So many of us are judged by the t-shirts we wear, music we play and concerts we attend. For me, it was a relief to finally be in a place where I could just be myself with others who understood. That’s what I mean by “safe space”. We’re never all going to agree on the minutia, and we’re not all going to be best friends, or even friendly in some cases. We’re all different. Our fan community is complex. We each have our own favorite memories, band members, songs, albums, or tours. When it all boils down, the music is still between us. The music is the common thread that connects us as fans. I feel like we should celebrate that as often as possible.

-R

 

 

 

I Made a Break: Fun Memories

Things are pretty serious in my life right now.  My time is generally spent on teaching related tasks or on campaigning for this year’s presidential election (and my state’s senate election).  Right now, my students, at work, are finishing up a tough unit on Reconstruction, or the time after the Civil War.  We discuss some tough issues, including lynching, segregation, and sharecropping.  On top of that, we connect the past to the present with issues surrounding the criminal justice system.  The unit is heavy with its seriousness and emotionality.  When my teaching day is done, I turn to politics, filled with issues surrounding democracy, sexual assault, etc.

I generally embrace intensity.  As many have pointed out to me, I’m a pretty serious person.  Sometimes, I’m so serious that people can’t ever imagine me having fun or being silly.  Yet, as I point out to my students, there are times for both.  Now is the time to be focused on big issues.  That said, this doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to fun times ahead.  I always do.  This week, though, reminds me of fun times in the past.  I need those reminders.  They boost my energy, my will to see things through.

What fun memories popped up this week?  The first one surrounds a little convention that was held in Chicago three years ago now.  I can’t believe that Durandemonium was three years ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel that long ago.  Where the heck is time going?  Is it on fast forward???  For those not in the know, Durandemonium was a convention that Rhonda and I planned with some friends.  The event went from Friday to Sunday and featured various activities, including watching A Diamond in the Mind at a movie theater, a banquet/dance, Duran games, dancing at an 80s club, author panel and more.  Want to know more?  You can find out about it on our convention page here!

Maybe the convention memories make me smile because the event marked something that we spent a lot of time planning and organizing that went off without any major problems.  It was a success, in our eyes.  I appreciate those moments when you plan and plan and plan for something and then it works out.  It is one of the things that I treasure about political campaigns.  All the work comes down to one day and one result.  When it goes well and your side wins, there is no greater feeling.  The goal is obvious with campaigning and the result is clear.  This is the opposite of what teaching is like.  There I have no real end goal besides all of the little steps of progress, which happen at different times for different kids. Teaching requires a lot of work over ten months instead of just a few with most campaigns.

Plus, there is the obvious.  Durandemonium like other Duran conventions was filled with Duranies and non-stop focusing on Duran Duran.  Being at a convention means that my laser focus becomes about the band.  I don’t have to multi-task.  I can push aside the rest of the world.  The same is true with Duran shows and tours.  Five years ago today, Rhonda and I saw the band play in Chicago.  The weekend went by way too quickly and the show was a little strange for us because we weren’t sitting together but it provided us that escape from our regular day-to-day existence.  If you want to read our review of that show, you can go here.

In thinking about my current life along with Duran tours and conventions, I realize that I do truly live with intensity.  I like having events that suck up all of my thoughts, time and effort.  Perhaps, this gives some insight to why touring really works for me.  Yes, I do need significant breaks from my real life in order to continue to do my job and fight in the political arena and touring does provide those breaks.  In reality, though, it gives me something else just as intense, something all consuming.  When I’m on tour, I don’t pay as much attention to education issues or to politics or even to other popular culture I like.  It becomes all day, everyday Duran.

My conclusion is pretty simple then.  I have a few more weeks of serious, real life, big issues.  After that, I could use some intensity of the other sort.  You know something surrounding Duran Duran and fun…

-A

I’m Not Thinking About the Future

I really cannot believe that for Amanda and I, this tour is quickly coming to an end. We waited so long for the time to come, and now those moments are drawing to a close. We do still have one final show to attend in Chula Vista tomorrow, and it has been a fantastic time so far. We’ve had great luck on this tour. Yesterday, Amanda and I took a drive up to Hollywood to see a friend of ours. (Yes Robyn, I count you as a friend now too!) We had lunch, wandered around Amoeba Records for a while, and then met up with a couple of other friends for coffee.

These other friends we met up with were from San Diego and Argentina.  (Shout out to Shelly, her daughter Rachel, Faby and Gerardo!) As we walked to Starbucks in search of a caffeinated afternoon-pick-me-up, I thought about luck.

I’m not one of those people who wins many contests. I don’t typically have the best fortune when it comes to running into band members the way some of you do. In fact, I could be given solid information about where they are at any given time and STILL not find them, which is kind of funny! (if it’s not meant to happen, it’s not happening – right?) I have several friends and acquaintances that just seem to have their life together. I’m sure they’ve worked very hard to land their dream jobs—please don’t read this as though I’m saying otherwise—but I haven’t quite “found” my dream job yet, I guess. I’m still sort of floundering and trying to figure it out. Later in life than most, but I’ve also spent twenty years at home with my kids. I am definitely not one of those people who has just had everything fall into place yet. I keep trying. I would probably say that I’m not necessarily lucky. Hard worker? Yes. Good at buying pre-sale tickets? Probably. (unless Ticketmaster is involved!)  But otherwise? Not quite sure about that.

On the other hand though, I have hit the jackpot and then some when it comes to my friends. I started thinking about all of the people I have met while being active in the fan community for Duran Duran. I know people from all over the world at this point. I have a very small circle of friends that I can count on to bring me up when I’m feeling down, talk me away from the proverbial edge as necessary, and within that small group, a couple of very close friends that push me to keep going when I most need it. Those same two are also not afraid to call me out when it is deserved, and remind me that life doesn’t suck, no matter how hard it seems at times. I don’t think they know how much they matter to me.

My days are pretty mixed up right now, but a couple of nights ago Amanda and I were recording a video blog to “review” (so to speak, anyway) the Las Vegas show. I think we rambled onto the topic of how sad we were going to be when we came to our last show. It was important for us to convey how we’ll feel when it ends, because let’s face it—we’ve ALL heard rumors over the past few years about how this might be the last album, etc.  I think that concern hangs over me at times like this.

First of all, going to see Duran Duran is my break. It is like planning a giant “girls weekend”.  That isn’t to say we couldn’t plan one without them, but there are girls weekends, and then there are girls weekends with Duran Duran.  I think most of you understand the difference. The band adds another dimension, and I don’t want to see that end.

Secondly, there’s the music. I thrive on live music. I love seeing bands play and being consumed by the sound and energy on the stage. I like being up close and seeing the band’s reaction. I love being farther back and hearing the subtle nuances I miss when I’m up front.  I can’t imagine never having that again with Duran Duran. Can you?

Then, there are the meet-ups that Amanda and I plan. Strangely, I haven’t always enjoyed those meet-ups, believe it or not! They push me so far out of my comfort zone of hiding in a corner, I can’t even tell you. When we host parties like that, I have to mingle and be social. For me, there’s a fair amount of anxiety associated with that. I always have that few minutes as we’re sitting there, all set-up and waiting for people to arrive where I wonder if anyone will show.

Thankfully, you people are typically gracious and don’t leave me wondering for long! People begin to wander up and say hello, and I meet lots of new people. I begin to relax. In Las Vegas this past week, we had a huge turnout. I saw people I hadn’t seen in at least five or six years, and there were moments that I really had to swallow a lump in my throat because I was so thrilled to see people. It made my heart so happy, and for those of you who weren’t aware—I really needed some of that happiness.  For me, this pre-show party wasn’t just a meet-up, it was like a family reunion.  I walked away that night having new appreciation for these parties.

When I think that after tomorrow night, I won’t be planning pre-show meet-ups for a while, it makes me sad.  Every time we talk about one party we’ve hosted, someone shoots us a message asking if we’re coming to their city to do another. Believe me when I say that I really wish we could.  The trouble is, these meet-ups aren’t a job for us, and so the cost in organizing, traveling and attending is completely on Amanda and I. So we do what we can.  The idea that we’ve done a few and now they’re over really does hit hard. It’s not just going to the shows that matters—it is rallying the troops, organizing events for fans, and really strengthening the community that matters.  I meant it when I said that our fan community is like a big, dysfunctional family. So our parties and events really are like reunions. I hope we have the opportunity to host more of them before future shows.

How long will it be before I see some of these people again? Now, of course I know that Amanda and I could plan parties without the band touring. In fact, we really are doing a Durandemonium convention in 2017 (Mark your calendars for August 10th – which is a Thursday, through August 13th – a Sunday!!!)  Even so, it’s not the same as a tour. It’s the whole “group therapy” thing—the concerts—that are missing. Sure, we could probably pay the band to play in the same way that people hire them to do private shows…. (How much are y’all willing to pay in ticket prices, because I’m pretty sure that band isn’t cheap! I highly doubt the word “affordable” would characterize a ticket to a convention where they were going to appear, in other words.)

When I stand in the audience tomorrow night and begin to cheer as they come on stage, I’m going to try my best to push thoughts of the future out of my mind. I am going to focus on the hearts beating all around me, and staying in the present for the show. Every single second of the show needs to stay with me until the next opportunity I have to do this all over again. But, during New Moon on Monday, I won’t be surprised if a few tears threaten to escape. I don’t know what it is about that song for me on this tour, but just hearing it reminds me of how much this band and their fans mean to me. I am so lucky.

-R

 

It’s the learning of this journey: Fan Events

Hi everybody!!

I’m writing to you this morning from a lovely hotel room in Kalamazoo Michigan. We stopped here last night on our way to Detroit for the show tonight.  Leaving Chicago was kind of sad—it is one of my favorite cities, and it is also where my sister lives. I took one last parting photo as we inched our way by on the highway, thinking about how long it might be until I can return.

I needed my sister this week, probably more than she realized.  We hung out, talked a lot, and she gave me some much-needed advice that I plan to follow on more than one topic.  Amanda and I had agreed to leave and drive last night rather than wait until this morning because I didn’t want to feel rushed getting to the show. That didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye and get on the road and I found myself a little emotional as I hugged my sister knowing she wouldn’t be going back to California with me at the end of the week.

Our meet-up turn out isn’t always huge. Some can be, but many of them have been less than 20 of us, gathered together. We make due with limited resources, and are thankful for each and every person who decides to join us. I also think it takes a certain amount of nerve to take a deep breath, walk up and say hi to people you’ve only chatted with online. Take it from me, I know that sense of anxiousness well. Walking up to a group of people and introducing myself is one of my least favorite activities, right up there with taking tests of any kind and say, having cavities filled.  It isn’t any easier for me to host these fan events, either. It takes putting myself out there, being “on” even if I’m tired or not feeling well, and being more extroverted, which certainly is not my style.  I just want to say thank you to everyone who comes to hang out with us!

At our last pre-show party, several friends we made at the Durandemonium convention in Chicago attended. What strikes me about these women is that before the convention, most of them didn’t know one another. Since that fateful weekend, however, I’ve seen news of their gatherings and travels. It is nice knowing that they bonded at an event Amanda and I organized.  One of this group had volunteered to help on the committee even though she’d never gone to an event like that before. Shy and not very confident, she was eager to help. Since then, she’s gotten married and really has started her own life. She seems far more self-assured now, although I know she’d probably argue with me—but I have watched her blossom and I silently encourage her to keep going.

Towards the end of the party, we took a picture together and she spoke with Amanda and I. She told us how thankful she was for these fan events and the things we do. She mentioned how we brought these people into her life, and how that made her feel. We have had people send us notes thanking us before, but never something like that. Raw from emotions that I have been keeping just under the surface, I found myself with a large lump in my throat, choking back tears.

Life has been rough lately. I haven’t even given myself time to grieve my family’s loss. Touring is probably the last thing I should be doing right now, but here I am. I knew I wanted to see my sister, Amanda and my friend Heather. I knew the band would be great. I just have all of these feelings bottled up that I don’t know what to do with. Listening to this wonderful Duranie tell me that I made a difference in her life and brought her friendships and things blew me away. I think I’ve been on the verge of tears ever since. Here I am, struggling, and she gave me such a gift that night. She’ll really never know, and these words don’t do it justice. I needed to hear what she said that night. It reminded me that fandom isn’t about how many shows you’ve attended or how many times you’ve met the band.

If anyone wants to know why I do these fan events (or any of it really), they can talk to Kim. She is the reason. It’s not because I make money. (uh, no)  It isn’t because I thought I would get closer to the band. (Never met most of them beyond a quick hello at a signing) It definitely isn’t because I want to be a big name in the fan community. I do all of this stuff because it is a way for me to give back. I found Amanda through being a fan. I want other people to have that same chance. It’s that simple. The band happens to provide the soundtrack for all of that.

-R

 

Dear Santa – 2015 edition!

Not sure exactly when this started, but Amanda and I like to do our own “Dear Santa” letter each year on Christmas Eve. 2015 is certainly no exception, particularly since we’ve got a tour coming next year!!!  Since Amanda is on vacation this week, I had her send me her list, I compiled it with my own list (They were remarkably similar. Imagine that.) and here you have it! So without further adieu…

Dear Santa,

How are you? Amanda and I are doing well. This past year has been fantastic, as it brought us shows (David Lynch Foundation show in April, and the October west-coast “tour” with our friend Heather);  a wonderful new album, Paper Gods; plenty of fun times Skyping together even as Amanda was in Wisconsin and I was at home in California; a month of no blogging as we took a well-deserved spring break; and a lot of laughter and friendship. She and I have worked very hard to write the blog each day, and have even managed to come up with more plans that we haven’t the foggiest idea of how to implement into our daily lives. We need more hours in the day for sure. For the most part, I would say that we have been very good this year.  (Again, I said… for the most part.)

Sure, there might have been some debauchery, and yes, we did manage to duck behind a friend when it was almost CERTAIN that we were going to be baptized, yet again… by Mr. Le Bon.  He didn’t miss, I’ll say that much. In our defense, Amanda is a teacher. I am a mom, and those jobs are almost 24/7. We blog every. single. day. (So this year it was really more like 234 days, even so…we write about Duran Duran even when no one else IS. Talk about being committed. Or needing to be committed….ANYWAY…)  We are beacons of innocence throughout much of the year. If we can’t let our hair down while “on tour”…when can we?? If we can’t send a joke around once in a while on Twitter…what is the point?  If we can’t tease a band member on occasion…really, what fun is left?? And about that baptism trick of Simon’s…I thought that once was enough, and Krista was more than happy to shield us and take the hit.

So….  Really, we’re not that bad!

Santa, we hope that you agree that Amanda and I are worthy of at least a few presents this year, and that our collective list gives you a few options. Naturally, we would never expect all of our wishes to be fulfilled, but we’re certainly hoping for the best!!

In no particular order…( and yes, dreams are free, and sometimes you just gotta ask. So we are!)

  • We’re putting in a request for Duran Duran to put LATE BAR in their set list. Ever helpful, we are cheerfully (or cheekily?!?) suggesting perhaps there would be room if a song such as, say…Come Undone, were retired for a gig or seven?  <insert wide, innocent, toothy grins here>
  • We are hoping for more energy for Duran Duran this year, because we have dreams of 3-hour shows with plenty of DoJo, JoSi, Roger stick-twirling and Nick-smirking. (if Bruce Springsteen can do it…so can Duran Duran! Like we said, dreaming of more energy for Duran Duran…..) 
  • More shows! We are hoping to do fan meet-ups and parties so that fans from all over can meet one another and get together before the shows – but in order to do that, we need to be able to go to more shows. Alas…
  • We’re hoping for a great Chicago venue, since that is one place we are definitely planning on for 2016! More midwest shows are a YES on this wish list!
  • We do not have a single photo with the entire band. We’re Daily Duranie and we’ve never met the band together, much less pictures with them…and we’re only together in pictures with Simon and Dom. Really hoping to make a group shot happen in 2016…and since this is a wish list, we’d love to interview a band member or two while we’re at it!
  • Durandemonium 2017 is a real thing, and in order to pull it off, we might need to win the lottery or learn how to make money with the blog. HELP!
  • The real dreams: more hours in the day, more energy…and a webmaster for Daily Duranie who is NOT named Rhonda Rivera. (seriously!)
  • Daily Duranie is a dream come true in every way but the bill-paying kind. Hoping the idea to make that part work comes to us this year, whether by dream or while wide-awake.
  • Along those same lines, hoping to sell a couple of book proposals for publishers this year. Crossing fingers, good ju-ju, mojo, publishing contacts, or positive thoughts would all be very welcome!

As you can see, we are shooting for the stars! Our list is lofty, fun, and of course a bit tongue-in-cheek. We know how hard it is to make wishes come true, but we believe in you, Santa. Even so, we are going to make the best of what we have, enjoy the time we get…and Rhonda is still taking those web courses when she finds time…just in case the whole webmaster thing never happens. You might even notice we aren’t even bothering to ask for Hungry Like the Wolf to be removed from the set list, or for Simon to stop with the White Lines baptismal sessions.  Even we know when to quit….most of the time.

We’re very excited to see you…um, I mean to see presents on Christmas, and to keep writing in 2016. After all, we love you….I mean we love you AND Duran Duran…and this is part of what makes it so much fun.

Stay safe, take care of yourself and those elves of yours, be healthy, and Happy Christmas!

Love,

Amanda and Rhonda

 

PS – we write this list with humor in mind. It might be a bit satiric, sarcastic, cheeky, and even way over-the-top. Perhaps you’re sitting there wondering why Amanda and I even think we are deserving of what we’re asking. I would refer you to my first sentence. It is written in HUMOR, no hate-mail necessary.  Merry Christmas!

Planning for a little Durandemonium

As we’ve bantered about, we’re planning another Durandemonium for August of 2017. If you want a date, think Duran Duran Appreciation Day because our plan is for Durandemonium to encompass that date. We’re also tentatively thinking that we’ll stick with Chicago as the city – so there’s some planning in advance for ya!

Chicago is centrally located in the US, there is a ton to do as far as nightlife and entertainment options, there is plenty in the way of public transportation, and it is also a place where both Amanda and I are very familiar and ideally – Amanda is able to take all of the equipment we would need for the convention without having to rely on costly shipping.  We are very excited to begin the planning process, which is why I’m writing today.

Durandemonium is for fans. (Fun fact: I’ve never been to ANY convention as an attendee!) We have done some fun things at previous conventions, but what we would really like to know is what YOU might like to do. Please feel free to brainstorm in our comments, understanding that whatever we plan for the convention  will be included in the registration ticket price. For example, sure – we could have a live band perform, and if the sky is the limit – we might even be able to pay to have special appearances, but that cost ultimately gets passed on through the price of registration. No matter, this is brainstorming time and no ideas are bad ideas.

In order to get the creative juices flowing, allow me to list some ideas that have been done at conventions in the past:

  • scavenger hunt
  • club nights
  • banquets
  • icebreaker games
  • private screenings
  • cosplay (dress as your favorite line of lyric!)
  • trivia games
  • pin/merchandise trading/vendor areas

…and so on.  Send in your ideas, and remember – we’re brainstorming. Sky is the limit right now. Dreams are STILL free! (yeah, yeah…we know you want the band there. We are still planning for about 100 people to attend the convention, tops. Who wants to pay $1,000 or likely, even more per ticket? Anyone???)

Looking forward to reading your ideas for fun, good times, and Durandemonium!

-R