An Ode to Fangirls

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Being a fan is hard. As Caitlin Moran puts it in her book, How To Be Famous, there’s something incredibly intimate about consuming someone else’s art. And the connection is even stronger when you’re a teenager exposed to any kind of stimuli.

It’s especially hard if you’re a girl.

Inevitably, being a teenager means feeling confused and being constantly bombarded with a raging burst of incontrollable hormones that drain you.

Like for most teenage girls, music was my companion.

“I think music is really important when you’re growing up,” said Katrin Ehrhardt, 34, one of the many people I’ve met through concerts. 

“It can comfort you when you feel like no one else understands you.”

Simple Plan were one of the many bands that walked beside me during my teenage years. They also strolled along many others, and we all met in this little world called the Internet. We shared our experiences and thoughts online, discussing lyrics like we were professional music critics.

Some of us met in Barcelona in 2008 for a show organised by a local radio. We headed to the airport prior to the show. After over an hour of frantically walking up and down the terminal, we welcomed the band and swooned, finally able to talk to them.

“I met a lot people through their music and I made some friends that I still have,” said Chiara Boccia, 30, one of my Simple Plan friends. “It was because of them that I started learning a different language and that’s why I live in England now.”

After Simple Plan came a lot of different bands that opened the gates and held their hands out. Most of them played in the now extinct Vans Warped Tour and made us dream about crossing the pond with our band T-shirts and Converse shoes.

We also had our own festivals in this part of the Atlantic. One of them was the I-Days Festival in Bologna: Simple Plan, Blink-182Sum 41 and All Time Low played in a green valley in 2010. Chiara and her friends were sweating on the first row while the rest of my friends and I chilled at the back, lying on the grass on one of the hottest days in the middle of Italy.

Deva Fernández, 30, was there too. We shared our love for eyeliner, Vans, and music. That same year, we travelled to different countries together, following another band called Boys Like Girls.They went on a hiatus in 2012 and broke all our hearts.

We felt the love Moran was talking about – the same that is supposed to be terribly wrong if you’re a teenage girl. Deva’s seen her favourite band, All Time Low, 41 times all over the world before she moved to Mexico a few years ago chasing her other love: film.

She said: “I listened to their music on repeat. I didn’t care about its members until one day I saw a video and I thought they were funny, so I wanted to know more. My dream was to become friends with them.”

We chanted their songs, we laughed at their jokes, we felt like they would understand our angst and pangs and moments of joy, too.

Posters with their faces hanged on our walls, their voices sounded in our ears while walking down the street, their birthdays were marked on our calendars… They helped us become who we are now.

“Back [when I started listening to Boys Like Girls] I was a really shy girl and never wanted to stand out,” said Katrin, from Germany, who now braves to go to concerts on her own. “I felt such comfort in their songs.”

Katrin and Martin Johnson, singer of Boys Like Girls. Photo courtesy of Katrin Ehrhardt.

But the good often came hand-in-hand with the ugly. That susceptibility can break you as easily as it shapes you.

Laura Rogg was a regular at Boys Like Girls’ concerts in the UK. She saved money and travelled in between cities to see the band. I remember seeing her bright red hair when we were queuing up in the cold London streets.

But she loved another band even more. She went to more than 100 The Summer Set shows over a three-year period, following them across the globe.

Laura and friends. Photo courtesy of Laura Rogg.

Laura said: “I reached a turning point in my life and chasing bands became no longer financially or emotionally viable to me. In many ways it completely took over my life… and after years of being so emotionally invested in [them], I had to take a break.”

At the end of the day, we were just a bunch of girls going to a bunch of concerts to see a bunch of men play. Our parents were probably unhappy, other men pushed us around in concerts and we were even judged because “we were probably there because Billie Joe is cute”, like a random guy told me at a Green Day show.

Could anyone really understand?

But Hayley WilliamsParamore’s singer, was a girl too – a teenage girl.

“The thing that made Paramore stand out is that their lead vocalist was a girl and that was not that common back then. I think that created this fondness inside me,” said Jessica Ferrerons, 32, who ran a Paramore fansite for years.

“Boys love clever things cleverly, girls love foolish things foolishly,” says Moran in her novel.

“How awful it would be to love bands like teenage girls do? How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan? A girl. How awful it would be to be a dumb, hysterical, screaming teenage girl? How amazing it is to be a dumb, hysterical, screaming teenage girl?”

I’ll always be proud I was a fangirl.

Link to published story:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: