Yesterday, I had a meeting with a former colleague of mine and her brother. In trying to share information about me, my friend and colleague mentioned the Daily Duranie. This would make sense, especially since the blog got started when I was working with her. The blog took up a lot of our time as we tried to figure out how to run the blog effectively and made attempts to get the word out that this little site of ours existed. Needless to say, I lived and breathed fandom at that point. No one could miss it, especially my colleagues. Yet, obviously, my fandom did not start in 2010. Rhonda’s fandom didn’t start then, either. We both have been fans for decades. I wouldn’t say that is when we were part of the fan community, however. I was just a fan in 1985, for instance. No, to be a part of a fan community is to talk about all aspects of what you are a fan about with other fans. If I had to pick when I really became a part of the community, I might say 2004.
If you all remember back to 2004, Duran Duran had not only reunited but were ready to release their first studio album with the Fab Five since Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It was a glorious time to be a Duranie. I remember that spring finding out that Duran had reunited and that they were being honored with lifetime achievement awards and more. As a longtime fan, I was beyond excited about this. I pulled out every piece of memorabilia I had, re-listened to every album, watched old videos and more. Still, all of that was me being a private fan. Sure, I shared my excitement with friends, including the person who alerted me to the latest news. It wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more. I wanted to discuss everything about the reunion. I wanted to ponder Duran’s history. I wanted to watch videos and look at photos with others and squee. (Yes, that’s a word and every fan I know would agree with me.) I wanted to be part of a fan community. Of course, that is easier said than done. How do I *find* people who want to do the same things? Where do I go? As a kid, I could “Duranie-out” with my childhood best friend who loved the band as much as I did but what about in 2004? Where do I find the Duranies?
The first place that I sought was the band’s official website. I figured that I might get a lot of information there, to catch me up, if nothing else. Then, I discovered that there was a message board attached. Anyone else check out the message board at dd.com? I was pretty familiar with message boards as I had been involved in other fandoms with a large presence and activity on message boards. So, I did what I think a lot of people did on those boards. I watched. I read. I lurked A LOT. I was too nervous to chime in much. What if I said something wrong? What if I showed that I didn’t know as much as others? Still, I created a profile and did post every once in awhile when I thought my post was “safe” enough. After all, I had seen other fans be taken down by other posters and I didn’t want that to be me. Even as I scrolled through the various threads, I knew that this wasn’t the place for me. I noticed that the official fan community, DuranDuranMusic, also had a message board. I immediately loved the structure of this board way better as it was organized and fans could personalize their accounts more. This board moved just as fast, in terms of posts, but seemed to be full of people who knew each other. It felt like a club that I wanted to be a part of it but didn’t know how to join. Again, I created a profile and wanted to figure out a good spot for myself but was often too intimidated to do or say much. I needed a smaller place.
One day, I saw a post on dd.com advertising a different message board, DuranDuranFans. After reading that, I thought that there was no harm in checking it out. Immediately, I felt more comfortable there. The look of it was organized. The number of frequent posters was smaller, more manageable. I felt like I could get the lay of the land that way as I lurked, read, and tried to figure out if this was the place for me. It didn’t take long for me to see that there was a tight knit group of people there who shared inside jokes, responded to each other about Duran and real life and more. Rhonda was one of those people. They seemed friendly and far less judge-y than what I saw or felt elsewhere.
Now, here is the part that I wished I remembered more. Eventually, I decided to jump in and start posting myself. I am sure that I started out just responding to their posts or threads. There is no way that I would have created my own thread (not at first). Anyway, I wish I remember how those posts were received. Clearly, I stayed so I would assume that people either liked what I had to say or at least didn’t hate my comments! Then, of course, this group on that message board planned a Duran Duran Fans Convention for the fall of 2004 (September, to be exact). I knew that I had to go. This was my chance to meet people in real life, to put myself out there (not an easy deal for me ever). During that weekend, I met Rhonda (of course) and the rest of that crew. I’m not sure what they thought of me as they could have thought I was trying to barge in but I attempted to make contact and be personable. Rhonda and I didn’t necessarily hit it off that first night but, on the second night, ended up at the bar during the dinner/dance at the same time, causing us to realize that we both loved vodka tonics. Luckily for me, the group invited me to join in their post-dinner plans to hit Bourbon Street. I have strong memories of sharing quite a few laughs and a stage to sing Rio at the local Howl at the Moon, which probably connected Rhonda and myself even more than those initial vodka tonics did.
In looking back on this adventure, it was the message boards that led me to the fan community and ultimately to meeting Rhonda. I wonder what it is like for Duranies now. If I recently became a fan or recently renewed my fandom, where would I go? How would I find other fans? Social media is an obvious choice but…there are options there, too. I know that there are groups on facebook and many fans chat on Twitter. Maybe there are others who frequent Instagram or Tumblr. How do people choose their social media for fan communities? Message boards were relatively easy to jump in with as there are threads on a given topic and you can respond easily enough. Social media feels more personal with individual profiles and whatnot. I just wonder what it is like to be a newbie fan now. How do people become part of the Duranie fan community? If you feel like you are a part of the community, how did you get involved? Was your story like mine in that a message board brought you in? Was it social media? If so, how did you know where to go and how did you jump in?