Since 2005, I have traveled to see Duran Duran quite a few times. Some trips have been very short – like a three day weekend to and from New York City. (Why I ever thought that was a good idea, I’ll never know) I felt like I was there and back within a blink of an eye, on very little sleep. Other trips have been much longer and far more involved – like when I went to the UK for about nine days in May of 2012. Each time I’ve gone somewhere, it has felt like an adventure. The one constant though, is that regardless of how much I plan, things never quite turn out exactly as I expect. The trip I took this past weekend was no exception.
I don’t know why, after traveling for the past seventeen years to see this band, I’d even attempt to make a plan. Having any sort of expectation of how things are going to go seems futile. To be fair to myself here, I’ve gone from traveling with someone who carried a binder and planned down to the hour (if not the minute), to sort of winging it on my own. I know where I’m supposed to be and when, but I don’t panic about having directions printed off, or things like that. I use my phone, figure it out, and off I go. The one thing I do like though, is being in control – so I tend to prefer driving to taking a plane (although that thought is very quickly changing, and I’ll get to that in a bit). I may not have an agenda with me, but I never fail to create expectations in my head.
My suspicions as a long time Duran fan are that I’m not alone in that regard. We have a tendency to raise the bar incredibly high at times, hoping for things to happen that can almost never come true. Whether your secret (or not so) is to hear Secret Oktober live (been there and I loved every second of it), or it is to sit and have a heart to heart conversation with ANY member of Duran Duran or their touring band, those are lofty goals, indeed. Not everyone is so lucky, and if you have your heart set on something like that, I think you’re almost guaranteed for a huge let down. Truthfully, there were many weekends I’ve driven or flown back home with that feeling of immense let down. Whether I let an opportunity pass me by, or the time just didn’t live up to my stupid-high standards at the time, I know the feeling well. This weekend was not a let-down.
During the weeks leading up to this trip, I knew I would not be attending the concerts on Sunday and Monday. For one, I couldn’t do the pre-sales. As many know, I am the caregiver for my mom. I wish I could fully explain how much this one responsibility has changed my life. There aren’t words. I’ll go on to Twitter sometimes and flippantly tweet the latest with her – whether it is that she’s started gambling online (not a joke), or that she’s given someone access to her computer and they’ve drained her bank account (also not a joke) – but just know that through those “lighthearted” tweets, I’m also screaming for help. It’s a lot. In any case, because of that responsibility, there is no telling my mom that I can’t come over because I’m trying to do a pre-sale. No way. So I had to kind of wing it, and when I saw that ticket prices were doubling and tripling before my eyes due to some satanic thing called “Dynamic Pricing”, I was out. It’s the principle of it all.
On top of that, I have this thing called a marriage. Laugh if you will (sometimes I do too), but it is a finely tuned balancing act that quite frankly, I’m not that great at. Twenty-seven years in, and I’m still struggling to find that sweet spot where I get to still be myself, and do the things I like, along with being everything he expects. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t always fun. Regardless, I knew that if I wanted to remain in his good graces, I’d be home on Sunday afternoon so that we could go to the Halloween party our friend was hosting. Therefore, even if I were given tickets, I would not be able to go.
So, those two reasons are why I had it in my head that I would drive to Vegas on Friday and come back on Sunday. Turns out that Suzie drove my car FOR me to Vegas on Friday (another story for another time, but we’ll just call it another expectation that went haywire), and both Suzie and I were in bed by 10:15 on a Friday night in Vegas. We are party people!! Then on Saturday, we were going to go see Jason and Dom do their Into Future Past DJ gig at 24 Oxford.
We make a good team
I don’t know how long I’ve known Jason now, but it seems like a long time. Probably at least five or six years I think, and maybe longer. He’s become one of my best guy friends, and I trust him with my life. I call him my faux brother, and it is because if I could choose a sibling, it would be him. Oddly, and I say “oddly” because I couldn’t have even dreamt this if I tried – he’s become close with Dom Brown because of these DJ gigs. Naturally!
For those who need Cliffs Notes, I’ve kind of had a soft spot in my cold, dead, heart for Dom since he started playing with Duran Duran. I’ve known Dom even longer than I’ve known Jason, and Dom reminded me of that on Saturday night when he pointed out that his first CD (Touch the Flames) is twenty years old.
I immediately told him, “No. You cannot age me like that. That isn’t okay. Nope.”
In any case, it has been a long time. I don’t know what initially started the banter that tends to happen between us, although it might have been when he sat near me on a plane from Chicago to New Orleans. It also might have been because he’s always been nice, he’s never forgotten my name since the day we met, he’s given me more than one of his guitar picks, and he looks for me when he knows I’m going to be in the audience. Our friendship is special, and not one that just happens with a single conversation in a bar. We have seventeen years of seeing one another at shows, waving hi in passing, and my continued efforts to convince him to bring whatever band he’s currently playing with in the UK to California so that I can see them.
So, I’m close to both of these terrific men, and I was happy to travel to see them together once again. What I didn’t know back when I made being there happen, was that I’d be hanging out in the green room before the show (I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been in a green room!), and that I’d be selling merchandise for them. Not only that, but I was able to hang out with Mrs. Velvet Rebel, and introduce her to another Vegas resident – my friend Suzie.
On the outside
I think a lot of people believe I’m still writing for Daily Duranie. I get it, I do. In fact, I have to quickly remind myself when I’m meeting someone new that I don’t need to say I write Daily Duranie anymore. It’s become such a knee jerk reaction over the years to say that. Many DD fans come up and tell me they love my blog, and I’ll admit – I wonder if they mean Daily Duranie, because this blog really isn’t well known. I would imagine very few DD fans know about it.
Why does that matter? Well, the one thing people tell me over and over again, regardless of what blog or website they’re talking about, is that they love the way I write because I’m completely honest and transparent. Perhaps shamefully so. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so to speak. My true friends worry that I’m too open sometimes. They’re probably right about that. I leave myself wide open for people to hurt me, and some do, but many don’t. This is me, like it or not. Truth be told, I do leave a lot on the table, but trust that I keep plenty hidden from view. There are some things that I just don’t talk about, whether they’re too painful, too private, or flat out too embarrassing. What I will say here though, is that I’ve never felt like part of the crowd. I’m not an “insider”.
Even when I was writing with Amanda, the one thing we had going for our friendship was that we had one another. As much as people knew our blog and would address us as “The Daily Duranie girls”, I don’t think either of us ever felt like we were part of the cool kids. We weren’t insiders to the band or anything like that. I know people who have done far less in far shorter periods of time who have been embraced by the band. I’ve been told it is because Amanda and I never had much to offer the band that they couldn’t do themselves. The truth bombs weren’t always kind.
As much as it shouldn’t have mattered, I have to tell you – it did. It stung when we’d leave a concert like the one at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015, only to find out that a bunch of people we knew got into the after party. We’d laugh when we’d be at one bar in a town, only to find out that everyone else, including some of those touring band members, would be at another. No one, including people we considered friends, bothered to tell us. I felt like no matter what we did, what we wrote, or who we’d met along the way, it didn’t matter. We’d never be more than The Daily Duranie girls. We wrote fodder good enough to read if it was free, but we weren’t quite cool enough to be invited anywhere. I think we became very used to being on our own, and trying to make our own fun along the way. We had one another, if nothing else. This is why the past weekend mattered so much to me.
A little truth
You know what is the strangest thing about not writing Daily Duranie? Not once has anyone come up to me, written, or tweeted asking why I quit. Sure, I’ve written a little about why and how, but not enough to tell a full story. I shouldn’t have assumed anyone would ask – but I’m a little surprised no one has. Not once. Now, it could be because people are being kind and respecting my privacy. Maybe they assume that it was a painful wound that they don’t want to reopen. I think it has more to do with the fact that Daily Duranie’s popularity had nothing to do with me, or with Amanda.
People didn’t really care about the two of us – they were only reading because we wrote about the band. You could see it in our traffic whenever one of us would write about something that didn’t directly have to do with the band. God forbid the times we’d want to talk about our own lives. I learned not to really care about the traffic and just keep writing. That’s when the blog became more about what *I* needed and a lot less about what I thought DD fans wanted to read.
Duranies can be vicious, savage, people. I knew readers who had no problem consuming our blog and then turning around to tell us we didn’t matter. These comments were unequivocally unkind, happened far more often than I think people would ever want to guess, and absolutely meant to put us in our place. There are Duranies I adore, but many more that I believe would truly eat their own, if it meant knowing more about the band, becoming close to them, getting something for free, or being on the “inside”. That is the difference between everyone else, and the people I choose to allow around me these days.
Yes, I still write. I write this blog, and it’s free. Anyone who wishes to read it, may. This time though, I’m on my own. I write what I want, when I want. The traffic, such as it is, doesn’t matter. If you’re reading it, I’m assuming you’re getting something out of my blood, sweat, and tears. (although it is my general life policy that Rhonda does not cry. Ever. No matter what.) I’m still learning how to go it alone, so to speak. Going to shows and DJ events like last weekend is still sort of strange. I don’t have a “Plastic Paradise” identity. I’m just Rhonda, and I think I’m beginning to get used to it.
Last weekend was about so much more for me than Jason spinning the tunes we love from the 80s. Although, let me be among the first to thank him profusely for playing Level 42 “Something About You”. It is one of my very favorite songs. He hit me right in the heart with “Read my Mind” by The Killers, and made me smile with The Freeze by Spandau. I loved that people – albeit a small group of people – were out on the floor, willing to dance the whole night away. My life here at home is likely no better or worse than what most anyone else goes through, but for me, it is damn hard. While I was self-conscious and anxious (because like it or not, I always am), I needed to lose myself on the dance floor and spend one night just being me.
Then there was Dom. His set was significantly shorter than Jason’s, but meaningful. As much as I know about him from Duran – he’s still sort of an enigma to me, otherwise. I’m still learning about his musical tastes, and enjoying the moments when I recognize my own favorites along the way. I know about his blues background, but Whitesnake? Yes, please! “Here I Go Again” was a surprise mainly because while I was wildly into those hair bands at the time, but I didn’t know Dom liked them. I loved hearing “Need You Tonight” and “Drive Me Crazy” (he still does, by the way), and I survived what is likely my least favorite U2 song ever, “With or Without You”, but then made up for it with “1999″, “Shook Me All Night Long” and “Jump”. Overall, it was a good set. He leaned over to ask me what I thought of it later that night, and I grinned, admitting that I liked his first set better.
He staggered back, obviously surprised by my answer. “Even with it having more rock?”
I knew he was going to be shocked, but I couldn’t help it! There were a lot of songs in his set that I liked, but also a few that made me cringe. Still a couple others that, as much as I like them, they’re tough as far as dancing goes. And as far as “more rock” , I’ll admit that during that period of time – the late 70s, and 80s – Duran Duran was sort of my anomaly. Oh sure, I love a lot of that alternative New Wave stuff, but my secret pleasures, the music my parents wouldn’t let me blare in my room or really even knew I liked, came from hair bands and heavy metal. Yep, I liked the guitar even back then. *sigh*
Maybe if he got out on the floor with me, he’d get it. (HA!)
Well before the weekend, Jason had passed on a request to me from Dom. He asked if I’d be willing to sell merch at the table so that he could focus on the meet and greets. I was happy to help, and knew it would make his evening easier. I was so glad he finally asked! In my past life, before my youngest was born – I worked for Clear Static. They were a band that originally toured with Duran Duran in 2005 during the Astronaut tour. They broke up many years ago, but while they were still gaining in popularity, I handled their MySpace account, wrote their bios along with some for other independent artists who found me along the way through their manager, and also worked for Clear Static’s street team. Doing merchandise and talking with fans that night was right up my alley and I loved it.
It felt really good to be helping Jason and Dom out that night. I felt useful and appreciated, not to mention included like I was just one of the gang rather than a fan who needed to be avoided. Talking with Julie and Suzie made me feel as though I had close friends again. Little by little, I was making steps towards being Rhonda – someone with my own history, identity, likes and dislikes. More than anything else though, I felt like I belonged. I was finally inside. Life is crazy.
Thank you to Jason and Dom for a great time last Saturday. I hope it comes together so we can take the show on the road. Your Director of Merchandise is ready any time you are! Dom, I’m saving money to come to the UK. Although, I will never stop bothering you to bring Uncovered here to California. That’s a promise.