Her Name Is Still Rio And She Still Dances On The Sand

The present-day Duran Duran, almost the same as the 1984 version. (Photo courtesy of duranduran.com)

The present-day Duran Duran, almost the same as the 1984 version. (Photo courtesy of duranduran.com)

It’s not very often that an e-mail arrives in my phone and it makes me smile. But at precisely 4:13 p.m., on this day, I received one that made me do just that.

And, just like that, it instantly took me back to a time where I could dance with ghosts, back to a day before there was a thing called e-mail. In fact, nobody even carried cell phones back then, but that’s only because they didn’t go on sale until the following year and even then they cost $4,000. Plus, you couldn’t fit one into your pocket.

It was March 11, 1984, and I was riding in a car heading from Bangor to Portland to attend my first-ever concert at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

It is here, I fear, that I must pull over the Memory Machine to digress for a moment.

I have taken my Man Card from my wallet and temporarily locked it up because there is a chance this post might very well be ridiculed by some. Some might just blatantly laugh in my face. I’m ready for it because, if anything, The October Weekend is about honesty for me when I sit down and starting banging away at the keyboard.

Others — those who get me — might find it sweet and sentimental (That’s you, ladies) even while being on the less manly side of things.

So as I was saying ….

We were driving from Bangor to Portland; myself and a kid named Pat Ross, a year my senior, who had graduated just the year before.

He worked at a men’s store in the Bangor Mall and since this was 1980s there was little to do in Bangor, Maine, so running into Pat was common place.

I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but he brought up the fact he had tickets to this concert and somehow I ended up being his date for the night.

I was 17 and had never been to a concert that wasn’t put on a school band in an auditorium.

And now here I was going from the small city to the — ahem — big city to see my first one.

The band was Duran Duran.

(I am pausing here to let the laughter die down).

My affection for Duran Duran had actually began the year before when the video for “Rio” came out on MTV. That coupled with the fact that I learned one of my English cousins had gone to school with lead singer Simon LeBon helped that affection grow.

When My First Love bought me the album “Rio” for my 17th birthday the year before the concert, I was a full-fledged, albeit primarily closeted, fan of Duran Duran.

How closeted was I?

Duran Duran's "Rio" album cover.

Duran Duran’s “Rio” album cover.

Well, to poke fun at the band, during my senior year at Hampden Academy, my friend, Deane Shaw, and I told anybody who would listen that we were starting up a Duran Duran tribute band and we were going to call it Narud Narud. (Read it backwards, you’ll get the lame joke).

Yet later than spring, when I had a chance to to go see the band perform live, I talked my parents into letting me drive two hours from home for a concert.

Looking back on it now, I just realized it was a Sunday night — a school night — so my parents were being pretty cool for letting me go and I didn’t even realize. (A belated thanks to them, I suppose).

I remember the excitement of walking into the Civic Center, seeing the stage at the far end of the arena, an empty floor (general admission standing!!!) ringed by seats that would put the crowd at close to 8,000.

I remember the blackness right before the band came out and how the entire building hummed with electricity and anticipation. I remember the smell of marijuana, though I myself wouldn’t try the stuff for a couple more years.

I remember the explosion of lights that kicked off the night with the opening song called “Tiger, Tiger.” (I don’t remember that song at all, to be honest. I had to look up the set list).

But all my favorite Duran Duran songs were coming up, from “Hungry Like The Wolf” to “Union of the Snake” to “Save a Prayer.” And the night ended with “Rio” and “Girls on Film” and my ears ringing and hormones raging.

I met a girl named Valerie that night, who for the shortest of times became my girlfriend. She lived in Brunswick, just 20 minutes north of Portland, which put her about 90 minutes south of me.

I actually once hitch-hiked to her house to spend the weekend with her.

Her parents put me on a bus back to Bangor, if I remember right, and I never saw her again.

Ah, fun times.

From time to time as I’m pushing my Sirius XM buttons I’ll come across a Duran Duran song and I’ll listen for a while, maybe a sing along. More often than not, I’ll move on to something else.

Today, Howard Stern was on the radio when at 4:13 p.m. I received an e-mail from my contact at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The subject line read: “Duran Duran To Play Mohegan Sun Arena In April.”

I smiled because I know I’m going to go.

For old times sake. And for new times sake, as well.


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