Durandemonium: A Personal History
Posted on October 18, 2011
I was 14 years old when I saw my first Duran Duran concert. How long ago was that? Well, a gallon of gas cost 87 cents, Margaret Thatcher was elected British prime minister for the third time, and Prozac made its market debut. Ronald Reagan was still U.S. president and The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” might have been the only song you ever heard on the radio.
I was about to start high school. Many of my graduate school classmates were not even born yet. The year? 1987. Duran Duran’s “Notorious” album was still a relatively new release that I listened to on a cassette tape, not a compact disc or MP3.
We did not Google or download back then.
My mother knew how much my sister and I loved Duran Duran and surprised us with tickets to see them at Merriweather Post Pavillion, just outside of Baltimore. Erasure was the opening act and I will never forget the way my mother sat there reading the A-section of The New York Times as they performed. At one point, Mom peered over the top of the newspaper to watch the band as my sister and I danced to “Victim of Love.”
When she had seen enough, she shot us a “What the hell is this?” look before going back to her reading.
Who reads the newspaper during a concert? Only my mom.
As soon as Duran Duran took the stage, a sea of teenaged girls sang and cried and screamed and waved Bic lighters. My mother was amazed that everyone knew all the words to all the songs, and that the teenage hormones raged so fiercely for this pretty pop band from across the pond. The expression on her face softened. Time and time again, Mom told us that they just don’t make music the way they used to, that the Beatles were it. But on that night, she sat there with a newspaper on her lap and met our Beatles, our first crushes. And when she drove us back home after the show, she broke down into tears and thanked us for letting us take her to the show.
What did my sister and I do? We looked at each other and damn near died of laughter.
Last fall I started graduate school and befriended a young man who was born in 1988. We befriended each other, I believe, because at the time he perceived he was young and out of place and I perceived that I was old and out of place. At the time, there was a special sort of strength in that shared awkwardness. Awkwardnesses tend to subside, however, and when they do, people have a way of drifting apart. But before he and I did, I remember how we sat in a bar one night after class, commiserating over a beer. The classmate in question began telling me what amounted to his life story before saying “I don’t know anything about you. What were you doing in 1988?”
I replied: “Well…I was probably wondering when all five members of Duran Duran would reunite.”
He thought that was a scream.
I was being dead serious.
Do not mess with me and my Duran Duran love.
I’m not sure if I could put a price on my Duran Duran love, but I know that my friend Michelle and I went to see the band in Atlanta once and bought outfits for the blessed occasion, so that we could get all dolled up, go to dinner and then rush to a line outside of the Tabernacle in an effort to get as close to the stage as possible.
We needed to look pretty, just in case we got close enough to touch them.
We also needed to be in the zone. Michelle is the sort of person who believes that certain occasions call for champagne and that this occasion was no exception. She told me she had filled a water bottle with bubbly and that we could drink it while standing in line and no one would know the difference.
The gentlemen in line behind us knew the difference as soon as they saw the bottle.
Michelle told them it was ginger ale. The gents said they wanted a sip of our “ginger ale.” She told them no, get your own.
And when she opened the bottle, it popped like firecrackers, or gunfire (some people did turn and duck), or…well…champagne. We drank it. It went down easy. The doors opened, we got as close to the stage as possible, and…when the band came out we screamed like teens.
“Simon I love yoooooou,” I wailed.
“I love you John!!!” Michelle yelled.
We were not teens, although it felt that way. We were in our early thirties.
When I moved back to Baton Rouge last year, I feared that Duran Duran would never perform here. I resigned myself to driving to New Orleans if I ever wanted to see them live and hoped I could find someone to go with me if they did, in fact, come this way. The way I saw it, my husband was probably not going to see them in concert with me a third time. But a few months ago, I got a notification that Duran Duran would in fact be performing in Baton Rouge and that tickets would go on sale at 10 a.m. that day.
Speaking 100 m.p.h., I told my husband that Duran Duran was coming and wasn’t it great and could we please go because I love Duran Duran and he knows I love Duran Duran and won’t it be so much fun to see them again? Please, please, please!
He said yes, vile woman, go buy tickets. Even better, he said “Let’s go.” A third time? He must love me. I scored a pair of seats in the tenth row, then called my mother to tell her. She said “Isn’t that the weekend of the LSU-Florida game?” “Yes,” I said. “It is. But you could come in early and babysit for us so we could see the concert.”
“Wouldn’t it be fun if I could go too” she asked. “Remember when I took you to see Duran Duran?”
How could I forget?
The week of the concert I saw an ad on AOL.com about Duran Duran’s tour. The ad read “Take your daughter to see your first crush.” My daughter is six years old and one of the first things she learned how to do was identify a song by “Mommy’s favorite band.” One day, I hope to take her to see my first crush live. For now, I will just enjoy slipping “Rio” or “Girls on Film” into the dance parties we have, watching her strut like a miniature supermodel with a cherry ice cream smile.
She has promised me she will go with me to a concert when she gets a little bit older.
I can’t wait for that day.
Because I’m going to tell everyone she’s my sister.
For thirty years, women have thrown their bras and themselves at Duran Duran. A friend of mine even called me out on Twitter this past weekend for being the band’s last remaining groupie. But if you scanned female Twitter feeds, paying special attention to #duranlive, you’d find that I’m not so alone. Countless women are traveling across the country right now to see the band perform for as many shows as their budgets and husbands will allow. These women are calling the shows everything from “awesome” to “bad ass” and saying that the band sounds better than ever.
They do sound better than ever. Click here to buy tickets for one of the remaining dates on their U.S. Tour.
The night Duran Duran played in Baton Rouge, my husband and I had dinner at a sushi restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River. When we settled up and headed to the concert, we rode down the elevator with two women in their late thirties or early forties, both of whom were dressed to the nines.
“You going to the Duran Duran concert,” I asked them.
“Yes,” one of them replied. “We’re soccer moms. This is our night out.”
They giggled. I giggled. And at the end of the night, the two women were front row center, their faces splashed across a video screen behind the band. Good for them, I say. Everyone deserves such a night out.
As for me? My longstanding Simon Le Bon dream did not come true. But I sang and I smiled and I danced and I had a really good time, so that was good enough for me, at least for now.
For now, I take great pleasure in the tweet I got from Simon Le Bon’s dog the day after the concert. He thinks Abita Amber is “quite nice.”
Me? I think dogs can’t tweet.
But I’ll meet Simon Le Bon for a beer any old time.