A commonly heard compliant in Duranland is about the poor meet and greets. I’m ignoring the topic of having meet and greets, period. Now, I personally have not had a meet and greet, despite buying VIP tickets a number of times. Yet, over the course of being a part of this fandom, I have heard many people’s stories of theirs. While excitement seems to be part of most, if not all, there always seems to be something that wasn’t quite right. Some examples I have heard include that not every member was there, one or more band members wasn’t smiling or chatting, individual pictures weren’t allowed, group pictures weren’t allowed, and more. Almost all of the experiences I have heard mentioned something about how quick it was, often being done within a few minutes. It seems that many people feel like they didn’t have the time for a real interaction. In fact, in response to today’s question, a number of people used the phrase “cattle call”, indicating that the fans were just in some line, treated less than stellar.
Before I criticize the members of the band or their management for setting up what sounds like less-than-great experiences, I do want to acknowledge the strangeness of them to begin with. First, I believe that most of them take place before a show. This can’t be a time when the band has a lot of free time and aren’t preoccupied. They have to get ready, which includes dress, hair, etc. It also includes physically warming up and emotionally getting ready to face the crowd and whatever else is taking place at that show. I know that I wouldn’t be my best before a performance. Heck, I’m not super friendly before leading a big meeting at work, no matter how usual they are or how many I have done. Second, I can’t imagine that meet and greets feel all that natural to them (or to us!). They are forced to go and be friendly with strangers. There, they are expected to sign autographs, take pictures and talk to people they have never met before or don’t know well. Yes, I already know what you all are saying in your heads. Didn’t they sign up to do this when they became rock stars/celebrities? Maybe so. That said, one really doesn’t know all of the little details of a job before you actually experience it, do you? The usual focus of being a rock star is to make music and perform on stage. Everything else is just to maintain that, right?
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I do think that if they are going to do them, they should do them well. Clearly, there are fans who want them so the band and their management should want to make sure fans are pleased with their experiences! So, what would it take to make the perfect meet and greet? Let’s break it down. The setting should not be in a hallway! That must feel so, so cold to all involved! How about having them in a lovely room? Obviously not all venues have great, warm, welcoming rooms, but there has to be a better place than a hallway. An empty dressing room, perhaps? A warm-up room? Then, all band members should be there, physically, mentally and emotionally. Perhaps, they need to take place AFTER the show, then. It seems to me that John is a bit tense before a show, for example. Wouldn’t it help him to meet fans after the show, then? If this is going to be my perfect meet and greet, I honestly wouldn’t want a ton of other people there. I would want to feel special and not like one of many. Yes, I realize that this makes it more challenging to find spaces for fans to wait. What about having a space for fans to hang out, mingle, enjoy some food and drinks while they wait? Then two or three people at a time could go and meet the band? The fans could go to the band. Then, obviously, I would want the meet and greet to be long enough to be quality. I would want a chance to exchange more than a few words with them. I would want a chance to have a normal conversation with them. Then, the autographs and pictures would feel more natural because then there was, at least, a basic rapport.
Now, I would love, love, love, love to hear what you all think would make a perfect meet and greet experience. Maybe some of you have had great ones already. What was great about them? What would you keep for future ones? What would you improve? Maybe you are like me in that you have never been fortunate it enough to have one. What would you ideal one include? What would it be like, assuming that it is still realistic, meaning that it can’t last for hours? What would your perfect meet and greet be?!