So I was at my first lolita fashion meetup- we were having tea in the park- and I guess somebody tweeted about us because fucking Nightwing showed up and asked what we were doing? We had to explain that we weren't villains, we just like dressing like this #onlyingotham #werenotvillainsiswear #thisshitstooexpensivetokillpeoplein
Rainbows in Brussels - D Day - Part 1: The Meet-Up
“Why are you packing your camera mommy?” - My heart breaks just a little as I explain that I am meeting some friends I won’t see again for a long time and I want to take some pictures to remember them by. It’s a little white lie - really, I am mostly hoping to catch some decent footage of my favs with that camera, but I don’t have the heart to tell my son I will be seeing his favorite gentlemangirl on stage tonight. Because he “wuvs hawwie”, like really *l*o*v*e*s* him, and I won’t hear the end of it.
The hotelroom where half the TMHFN team is staying is a cosy mess of clothes, hairchalk, t-shirt collars and chargers. Decked out in rainbows, all batteries loaded, we take one last pic of the rainbow hairsquad to post online before we head to the pre show meetup, fashionably late. At the metro station it becomes clear for the first time that juggling priorities - always a challenge for this team when the band is on tour - is just a little too difficult this time with our weekend long rainbow party, a show to attend, and social media to keep up with. All rainbows and chargers are there, but a few tickets are not…
As the only Belgian TMHFN team member, I really don’t want to miss out on my rainbow party so I decide to go ahead and brave the metroride to the Atomium alone. And brave it is, even if I say so myself, because despite the metrostations playing One Direction all day - thoughtful MIVB but it would have been more useful if you’d opened all your stations and ran a few extra trains past midnight - Belgium is still Belgium and not New York, meaning my wig, and I, get a lot of ugly stares. I hesitate for two seconds whether I shouldn’t play safe and stick with the rest, but then I remember unexpectedly being sucked into Pride festival in New York because “some rainbow freak” (even in New York there’s assholes who say that out loud) in my car was being all loud and rainbowy and I just followed the trail. I can do that. I will be Belgium’s own rainbow freak today.
My appreciation for small children goes up 200 per cent when three of them fill up the seats the adults refuse to take around me and one says my hair “is beautiful but is it real?” The adults around visibly relax when I break out my biggest smile and say “no, sir, I just dressed up for a party”. I am not the only one in my car attending that party and when it’s our stop the wig does exactly what it’s supposed to do: tell them who to team up with to find the Atomium. Conversation with my new friends is easy: Brussels is still buzzin’, the atmosphere is amazing and there are so many stories to exchange: where are you from, how did you get into the fandom, how was your trip, which seats do you have, which rainbow items did you bring, and - of course –who do you ship, what is your tumblr, who is your favorite? 40 per cent chance it’s Louis, judging from the bandana’s, with Harry as a close possible second.
At the Atomium, we spend several hours painting nails & faces, eating rainbow cupcakes, exchanging crafts, cutting cards, and tagging and handing out balloons to recruit more people. We are THIS close to 300 participants and team members Alice, Trine, Linda and Laura are committed to make that number before our batteries run out and we can’t celebrate our victory on social media. The minute it happens - by then we have joined the Belgian meetup for a singalong in front of the Atomium - our visual artist Trine draws a celebration post on the spot and I am once again amazed by the drive and creativity of this incredible team.
It’s been a warm few hours, literally and figuratively. Group hugs at the news that Jonas, the big brother from yesterday, is given a free ticket by another Rainbow Directioner so he can join his sister to the show. He is immediately coloured rainbow and signed up. I’ve made friends, and while yesterday the rainbow lunch hour oddly broke in on a busy work day, today, I’ve exchanged business cards with Helene, who - so we find out after a good heart to heart about what it’s like being an adult Directioner (bottom line: we give no shits) - is in the same line of work. Life is amazing and full of surprises.
Bags need to be dropped off at different hotel rooms, and now that the Belgian street team is wearing Sina & Szilvi’s rainbow badges - shoutout to the Belgian street team because they have been incredibly supportive - Trine, Alice, Laura and Linda are bent on spreading the balloons and the rainbow love amongst the people cueing – we split and agree to meet up again for a quiet dinner with the TMHFN team a few hours later. It’s so packed with people now, that I miss my entrance an end up walking the whole grounds. This gives me more of a taste of the “general audience” – remnants of a night’s camping to get front row, promo crews handing out freebees, TV crews trying to get a shot of that typical screaming teenage girl for tonight’s obligatory news item moms, dads, brothers and sisters, all decked out with matching shirts & the dads clearly getting the “remaining” bandana’s. Also visibly present are other rainbows shooting me quizzical looks. We yell “Rainbow Directioooon !!!“ while waving our flag-capes. The buzz has definitely grown and become more colourful overnight.
Spotting the crew’s parking lot, the sheer magnitude of the machine suddenly dawns on me. I stop at the gates – next to the girls hoping to get a glimpse of Niall on a Segway or Louis playing footie– to take it in properly. The amount of trucks is impressive. And as I walk on and we are passed by a blinded car, I throw in my New York rainbow freak death stare at whoever’s in the back, on the off chance it’s Harry Magee again – the only band-related person besides Lou I got to see “backstage” last time.
As I pass Malin & Emma’s hotel on the way to mine, I realize that losing another hour on public transport on my own while the team have so little time together isn’t worth it. I walk my rainbow rockchick wig, washed off stretch jeans, cut out t shirt and the badges I got from Szilvi into this fine hotel where only months ago I was collecting distinguished speakers for a conference at work – worlds continue to collide – and find that the hotel reception does not treat me any differently than they did when I was wearing a pantsuit, not a blink. I make a mental note to recommend this hotel to everyone and anyone who ever needs a place to stay in Brussels - although Malin&Emma are already boozing up on bubbles, so I am not sure I’ll remember.
Charged and ready to mingle again, the full team - minus Manon and Audrey who are already on the floor - is hooking up for dinner. We find everyone perched on Lisa’s giant rainbow flag. As I sit down to chat with her and her friend, while she’s covering everyone in glitter, it’s hard not to get emotional. Lisa is a Takemehomefromnarnian from the first hour, kept Ed, Molly, Anna and myself organized during our first six months, long before this campaign started. She was also one of Rainbow Direction’s first participants to bring a huge flag to a concert. Linda has already met her but she’s possible the one person who understands how much this meeting means to me. And suddenly I really miss Ed, my Narnian companion through thick and thin. We bombard him with selfies, but his snark cannot be replaced.
During dinner, I finally get to know Ariane, who will be joining me for the concert in Marta’s place. There’s another person that is sorely missed. I am grateful to have Ariane join me instead as she is every bit as lovely in person as she has been online and while we chat away about music, children and project communications (this mini press team has two articles to celebrate!), I can see she’s listening around for possible quotes to go in the post-concert press release. Meanwhile, Linda is giving final instructions to the “homefront”, Myrto, Nia and Anna, who are supporting our RD co-founder Ellis liveblogging people’s experiences from the concert. The first messages from “inside” are seeping in: rainbow bondage bear is there, with a baby, and sporting rainbow locks. Damn.
The buzz explodes. It’s time to forget about social media, and about rainbow crafts, it’s time to get to our seats and follow Linda’s good advice: “stop thinking about what you are doing and go completely crazy”. It is time for the show.
PS: as the continental Europeans making up more than half of the TMHFN team were all in Brussels we decided to share our experiences live from this blog for the occasion.