Friday, November 16, 2012

Her Name is Jenny and She Dances to the Band

On the first day of 6th grade in 1982 I met a girl named Jennifer. A quiet redhead, she quickly earned the label of smartest kid in class. One weekend she invited me to spend the night at her house. Upon walking into her room for the first time my eyes were immediately drawn upward. Taped to the ceiling directly above her bed was a poster of five guys, all dressed in black and white, one wearing a fedora. It was the iconic picture of British pop band Duran Duran.

At the time I knew OF the group, but I didn't know anything about them. Jen quickly schooled me. She was already an expert. 30 years later, Jen is a little less quiet, happily married, and has a law degree, but is still one of the biggest Duran Duran fans around.

Part of a community of GenX women who travel the country following the band on tour, she recently attended her 33rd Duran Duran concert. They're like Deadheads but with better overnight accommodations.

No doubt their resources as professionals allow them better seats and pre-concert drinks, but they also have more life-work responsibilities to work around. In 2005 Jen (who lives in South Florida) learned on a Monday morning of a one-night-only show that Southern California. She told herself all day that she couldn't possibly swing that trip on less than a week's notice. But that night she IM'd a fellow Duranie to discuss options, and by Tuesday she had a ticket, a flight, and a rental car. "It was a special show in many ways—intimate venue, no distractions, just the five of them," recalled Jen.
Totally worth it.

This photo was taken by Nick Rhodes while the band played "Girls on Film" at a show in San Francisco. Jen is in the front row...somewhere.

Attending so many shows--and those pay-extra pre-show events--does have its benefits occasionally. One of the ladies in the group was at an Atlanta show and asked Nick Rhodes for a picture after the concert, adding that it was her birthday. A few months later he saw her after another show and acknowledged her as “Birthday Girl.” He said that he didn’t remember exactly when or where it was because that all starts to run together, but he remembered her.
...with John Taylor at a book signing in New York
To anyone who's ever obsessed over a celebrity, this is huge. And I say "obsessed" in the nicest way possible.

While these ladies' admiration surely began with pre-teen hormone rages, they truly are music aficionados. No two live shows are ever the same, and the anticipation of hearing a rarely-played song is one of the things that keeps them following. Jen always tries to get tickets as close to the front as possible. "It may sound silly," she says, "but there is something about getting a smile or a wink from one of the guys who used to be totally untouchable idols in posters on the wall."

In fact, when the group went to a pre-show meet-and-greet with the band, they walked in and John Taylor said, “I know you guys. You go to a lot of shows.” EEEEEEEE!!!

Jen continues, "And I guess a part of it is that in a way, it does take me back to that time. For a few hours, all of the adult responsibilities go on the back burner. When I first started trying to explain this to people, I said that I had found my inner 14-year-old, only she has discretionary income and no curfew."

The relationships between these women go deeper than just a love of the boys in the band. What started out as online chats with other groupies has turned into a group that gets together outside of concerts for things like baby showers and 40th birthday weekends. "In some ways, the band is almost secondary now," said Jen. Almost.

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