Backstreet’s Back Alright! Well, at least, they are on tour in Europe with New Kids on the Block right now. Last night they hit up Rotterdam and for the first time in my life I did not attend their concert. I have written about my fandom decline several times, here and here, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t cherish the memories of my fanhood. Backstreet Boys has been a huge part of my life and I would like to share with you some of the good memories I made during almost 15 years of being a fan. Because when you spend nearly 15 years listening to one band’s music, going on tour and making new friends because of that, you tend to make memories you won’t forget too quickly. Here’s some of mine.
First of all, Backstreet Boys has been a huge reason for my love of music. They were my first exploration into music when I was 11 and they were a huge part of the music I listened to on a daily basis for years. I would try to find whichever music the guys themselves listened to and that was a start for me to find what other types of music I like or don’t like. To say they were a major influence on my music experience would come close to the truth. I remember being 15 and having set my alarm so I would always wake up with my favorite song of their album Millennium. I remember crying buckets whenever I heard Something I Already Know when I was going through a rut back in 2008/2009. Needless to say, their music has always been a great refuge from life in general.
Secondly, they allowed me to meet people and go to places I would never have been to other wise. In the early 2000s I spent hours on chatrooms with other fans and met my first penpal (all the way from Canada). Later on, I joined several forums/ message boards where I met people from all over the world and from all different walks of life. People who I doubt I would have met if I hadn’t been a fan. Some of these people are still my friends today, because we bonded over other things than just Backstreet. Other people I have lost touch with because lives change and people move on and get other interests.
Since some of these people have become my actual friends, I also went to visit them. This allowed me to not only go to Paris on more than one occasion, but it also took me to Germany, the US and the UK. Naturally the tours these guys do go all across the world, so meeting up with friends usually coincided with concerts, doubling the amount of fun. I went to concerts in 5 different countries and met a bunch of people while there. Some I met online before going to the concert, but others I met right there on the spot while waiting for the show to start. I once ended up standing next to a girl who I stood next to at the same concert 2 years ago. We hadn’t seen or spoken each other since, but that was more than a coincidence.
And then with those people you encounter the weirdest situations. The idea is to not just go to the show, but to also try to see the guys afterwards. So we found ourselves standing in a nearly empty parking garage in Birmingham for hours, in front of a hotel in Cologne in the middle of the night, and in a bus station in Atlantic City that was too gross for words. Or how about lining up for 12+ hours with a stomach flu? Running on 30 mins of sleep and staying up for 48 hours? Making nice with the security guys so they won’t kick you out of the casino? Skip class and live off junk food for days? All for a glimpse of the guys or to get that coveted spot front row center of the stage.
As a fan you simply spend a lot of time waiting, so you have to keep yourself entertained. You chat up the opening act and take pictures with them, and start liking them too. In the mean time you manage to get a fellow friend on stage because she likes the guy so much. You travel all the way to Luxemburg (from Oberhausen, Germany) only to find out the concert was cancelled at the last minute and so you decide to travel on to Brussels the same day. You take the last bus out of New York City to Atlantic City where you’re nearly kicked out the casino because you’re not allowed to line up until 3 PM. You buy a sex toy as a birthday present to the trumpet player of the back up band, because he is having his birthday in Amsterdam afterall. The list goes on…
Of course there is no tour without drama. So we spent hours laughing our heads off about other fans, getting angry at incompetent venue security and yelling at the fanclub for screwing up yet again. Since you are together with a group of people the situations are bareable and you instantly turn them into fun. Who cares you get rained on, that your feet hurt or that you can’t feel your butt from sitting on a cold street all day? People are trying to cut the line, you nearly get trampled, or nearly fall down a stairs because you are going down a flight of stairs too quickly. Or security in a foreign country call you names for not speaking their language. You are in it together and so you laugh till your stomach hurts and just keep on trucking.
They are memories that last and even though some people have disappeared from my radar I would never change anything. By now, Backstreet simply isn’t doing it for me anymore. Before, I would get excited about the least amount of news. I have watched videos, have seen numbers of fan encounters on Facebook and not once have I felt the need to go. The only reason why I’d go would be to see my friends, but I also know that I can see them without having to see the show. Here’s to all the amazing people I met during my Backstreet encounters, both online and offline.
Ladies (and gentlemen), you know who you are, and this one’s for you:
Thanks to (in no particular order): Kimberley, Ewa, Fiona, Lieke, Gosia, Ali, NinaLee, Erica, Taryn, Aline, Ivy, Ibi, Noha, Steph, Ferhat, Janske, Karin, Tai, Janneke, Pauline, Emma, Pia, Kine, Mirjam, Noelle, Lotte, Rachel, Liesbeth, Wiggy, Jennifer, Arizar, and anyone else who I forgot to mention here. You guys are awesome!