The other day Rhonda wrote about the end of the school year, which reminded me of the end of the 2006-2007 school year. During that school year, I was working in a middle school, teaching 7th graders with disabilities, most of the disabilities being emotional and/or behavioral ones. I loved the people I was working with as well as the kids but I was tired. Exhausted, in fact. That kind of teaching is not easy and I was finishing up year number eight. Trust me when I say that I was aging quickly. Therefore, I was more than ready for summer break. More importantly, I desperately needed some fun and I had a long weekend planned in the Big Apple.
Earlier that year, my friend, Sara, called me out of nowhere and declared, “So we are going to New York, right?” I had no idea what the heck she was talking about. Sara, like me, taught at this middle school and I wondered if she had just snapped. This is when she explained to me that the band had announced that they were playing a “Fan Only” show in New York City in June. Before she could even finish the sentence, I readily agreed to attending said show. Of course, it didn’t take much to convince my partner-in-crime to join in the fun. Sounds easy, right? Well, it wasn’t exactly. We had to actually get tickets. This wasn’t your usual presale in which you had to wrestle the Ticketmaster or whatever ticketing outlet gods. No, in this case, you had to win the ticket lottery. Each of us applied for a ticket, hoping to get VIP floor. The show was to be general admission on the floor with assigned seating in a small balcony. We hoped for VIP floor to be in the front section of the general admission crowd. We submitted our requests and hoped that they would be honored. I don’t remember exactly how it went down in terms of who got what (maybe Rhonda does?) but I know that two of us got VIP floor and the other did not. We had a choice. Do we separate with one of us being alone? That would be unacceptable so we did what good friends do and worked to get tickets together through trades, etc. We did not end up with VIP floor but VIP balcony. While not our ideal location, we figured that we could see well and would be together.
With the ticket situation settled, we finalized plans for hotel and plane tickets. For this show, we stayed at the Duranie Dorm. For those unfamiliar with those, they were hotels that offered discounted group rates for Duran fans. This was organized through the official fan community, DDM. People liked the discount and loved staying with other Duranies. Typically, those hotels would be so fun as you would always run into fellow fans, at all hours of the day and night. Anyway, as the weekend grew closer and the school dragged on, I was more and more anxious to go. The level of excitement on DDM and other Duran related message boards was at an all time high as people expected the best party and the best show.
Finally, after what felt like torture, the end of the school year arrived. The school year ended on a Friday and we were due to fly out that night. So Sara and I did what every else in our shoes would have done. We wore t-shirts on the final day of school that read, “Work sucks. We are going on tour.” We certainly got the attention of our colleagues and boss but we didn’t care if there was any judgement. We were too excited! That night, we arrived late in New York City, meeting Rhonda right outside our hotel. I don’t remember much about that first night besides the fact that the hotel put us into a corner far away from others (I cannot imagine why!) and that the sheets did not want to stay on the bed, which caused us to laugh hysterically. The next night featured a Duranie meet-up/party at a club that had an 80s night, which was a ton of fun. I might even go so far as to say that it was the highlight of the weekend as the show failed to live up to the hype, which is and has been a topic of many blogs.
Looking back on that weekend, almost 14 years years ago, I still can recall the high expectations and the excitement of that last day of school. I don’t have that same anticipation this year, for obvious reasons, but I have to wonder if this end of the school year will be a turning point as that one was. That fan show felt like a turning point in the fan community. It was at its peak from the reunion, from what I recall, and Duran tested a lot of fans’ patience with a show that did not meet expectations, to say the least, and with an album that did not feel like Duran for many. It was the final time that Sara, Rhonda and I traveled and saw a show together. Things were not the same afterwards and I wonder if I might say the same about the school year of 2020-2021.