Ten years ago, yesterday, Duran Duran played at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. This concert was open only to paid members of DuranDuranMusic, the band’s official fan community. This show took place during the writing and recording of Red Carpet Massacre. In some ways, I feel like this show was just a year or two ago, but, in other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. I learned a lot about the Duran Duran fan community. On top of that, it represents not only that time period but also marks a dividing line in my personal fandom.
In 2007, a lot of Duranies were members of DuranDuranMusic. The message board was busy all day and all night. Threads had pages and pages of posts. Posters had thousands of post counts. Whenever anyone went to those boards, it was clear which fans were friends with each other and even, I dare say, which groups were more popular than others. In saying that, I’m not criticizing anyone–just giving my observation. When the band announced this fan only show, I felt nothing but excitement and determination to get there. The fan community advertised the event as special, one time only. Most fans I know desperately wanted to be there because it seemed to be so special. I was no different.
While my group was no where near popular or even known by many other fans, I still wanted to be a part of it. Did I think that popularity within the fan community was tied, at least to some extent, to how many shows people went to? Sure did. I remember watching other fans in 2005 and 2006 going to tons of shows and they always seemed to have these amazing stories of their experiences. I felt certain that attending this fan only show would provide me with my own story, so to speak.
I did have a story of sorts. It focused on our sad attempt at getting VIP tickets. My group, at that time, included Rhonda and myself and a friend of ours. We needed three tickets. The tickets were distributed by lottery. When the results came up, two of us got regular general admission and the other got VIP floor. Through trading and much communication with other fans, we were able to score three VIP balcony seats. No, they were not as good as VIP floor. Yet, we took what we could get.
Then, on the night of the show, we learned that many fans think that wearing the band’s t-shirt to a show is uncool as we got many unfriendly looks as we walked by. We also learned that fans don’t always stick together after a show with many groups going off on their own despite any promises to get together afterwards. This, of course, was all on top of a show that left a lot desired, which we have blogged about many times. No matter one’s opinion about the show or about the album, it was clear that all was not happy in Duranland. For our friend, it proved too much. The fun had left her fandom. She went to one more show but that was it.
After that show, things changed for me. I chose to hold on to the fandom with every ounce of strength I could muster. My friend, as stated earlier, left. I wasn’t happy necessarily within Duranland as I saw flaws in the album and felt like it was unDuranlike. I also recognized that others in the fan community didn’t see that. Tensions were high and arguments were frequent. I thought for sure that I would be the only one remaining as Rhonda not only struggled with RCM but also had a lot of real life stuff to contend with. Thus, I did what I needed to go to get through it.
I went back to New York City to see one of the shows on Broadway. (I went to the second night, the one in which Donald Trump was there. Yippee.) I needed to give the band a chance to fix what went wrong at the fan show. They had to show me that they were going to put all of themselves into this new album cycle. The performance at that show did just that and gave me strength to make it through the rest of the very divisive Red Carpet Massacre era.
Overall, the fan show ended the first part of my adult fandom. The innocence I had for the fan community and for the band seemed to end. Lucky for me, the strength of my friendship and my love for the band kept me in the fight until a new era dawned.