On the 23rd of July 2010, the world was blessed by Simon Cowell as he pieced together an extremely corporate boyband on the X-Factor UK. He offered up a familiar formula for obsessive tweens and teens. On the 23rd of July 2020, the ten-year anniversary of One Direction provided another scary revelation for all ex and recovering fangirls that “oh my god, time is totally real, I will not be young forever.” In order to refute that sense of panic and relive the golden years, Talia Parker and Madeleine Crutchley take a wander down memory lane.
The boyband first touched down in NZ in April of 2012 for the Up All Night Tour, performing at the Trusts Stadium in Auckland as well as the St. James Theatre in Wellington. The band’s time in Wellington became a central focus for incessant Larry shippers within the fandom, with blurry footage of Louis and Harry interacting in a bar spreading across fan communities like wildfire. Following this memetic spread, any blurry footage of Louis and Harry interacting has been dubbed to hold “the Wellington curse.” The band returned to New Zealand once again in October 2013, on the rounds of their Take Me Home Tour. They had a massive upgrade in venues, playing Canterbury Arena in Christchurch and Vector Arena in Auckland (now Spark Arena). True to form, local fans were incredibly passionate, and intrusive, during this visit. They filmed Louis and Liam playing football before their show in Christchurch, screaming at them from just a few metres away. In an incredibly impressive and concerning show of loyalty, fans also hacked into the Auckland Airport security cameras, just to watch the boys sit and wait in the Departure Lounge. Fans who attended any of the Take Me Home concerts will remember the band promising to return to NZ once again. These turned out to be empty words, as the boys never graced NZ stages as a band after this tour, probably contributing largely to general distrust of men. During the band’s ‘hiatus’ a few members have played in NZ solo; both Harry Styles and Niall Horan have played Spark Arena, and both stars addressed the long break between their visits. At each show, the screams of fans suggested they were entirely forgiven.
The adoration of NZ fans is somewhat surprising; the band came together on the other side of the world, in an extremely artificial environment. It’s clear that social media played a major role in building such passionate fandom in NZ. We’ve seen twelve year old girls sprinting down the street after pigeons – “KEVIN!”, screeching at the flabbergasted avian. All this because of a joke about a plastic pigeon made in the boy’s video diaries. One Direction’s use of social media (particularly Twitter and YouTube) in their rise to fame, cultivated a really loyal following, which they continue to have today. The video diaries they filmed throughout their time on The X Factor and beyond gave their young fans more in-depth understanding of them as individuals; Louis became the funny one, Harry the sweet one, Niall the…er…Irish one…and made fans feel like they really ‘knew them.’ Fans, from all around the globe, were privy to “inside jokes” that they shared only with other fans and the boys themselves, as if they were part of a friendship group. This, along with their songs often being addressed to an unspecified “you”, fueled tween and teen fantasies and produced a devoted (read: rabid) fan-following that bombarded Louis with carrots because he joked that he liked girls who ate them.
To celebrate the momentous 10 year anniversary, a couple of fan events have taken place in Auckland over the last two weeks; one on the 23rd of July a One Direction club night was held at The Tuning Fork (with all proceeds from the evening going towards Women’s Refuge) and one on the 1st of August, with Galatos hosting a similar party, giving out free 1D face masks at the door. It’s clear that many fans still hold an affinity for the British boys who filled Tumblr and Twitter feeds during their tween and teen years. UOA students offer some sentimental reflection on their own fan experiences:
In early high school, to fill time during morning tea and lunch, I would read 1D fanfic on my iPod Touch. There was no wifi or data to use at school, so I would painstakingly go through onedirectionfanfiction.org and copy and paste chapters to my Notes app. Within a few weeks, my whole group of friends was doing the same thing. We would sit and read silently, occasionally giggling or sharing funny lines with each other. We would bond over the stories and joke about how terrible some of them were, pretty self aware of how ridiculous the fan fiction was. It was a really pure time, except for the smutty fics that definitely played a hand in my sexual awakening. – Rose*
When the boys came over for their Take Me Home tour, I found out via the Twitter fandom that they were staying at the Langham hotel. My friend and I decided to stand outside their hotel, with the hopes that we would see them at some stage. When we got there, early on a Saturday morning, there were already a few girls with signs and wearing merchandise. As the day went on, more and more fans joined us and the party truly began. The Edge Road Runners came and blasted music for us, Pepsi advertisers gave us drinks, the Langham staff even came out and gave us pastries and fries. We saw Zayn through one of the hotel windows, but that was the only sighting for hours. When it was time for the boys to go to their concert, WE SAW THEM SO CLOSE, IN THE FLESH. It was such a rewarding experience that we went back again the next day. There were no sightings during the day, but as it came to the time for them to leave I told my friend that we should reposition by a wall because we would be up front and much closer to their path. In fear that the corner could turn against us, and we would miss out on the opportunity to see them, we wiggled closer to their car. When Harry came out he went STRAIGHT to the corner I suggested and started interacting with fans. I was heartbroken as he walked around the crowd touching hands, with that fucking grin on his face (still gets me). He stops a couple metres short of where my friend and I were standing and gets hustled into his car by security. We stood outside that hotel for 16 hours and so nearly TOUCHED Harry Styles. I don’t talk to that friend anymore (unrelated… well?). – Alex*
I was completely in love with One Direction throughout most of high school and, due to my insane loyalty, I was often very attached to my phone, keeping up with everything the boys were doing on social media. When Zayn announced that he would be leaving the band, I was away on a school camp, where our phones had been taken away. I found out about Zayn’s departure a few days after it actually happened as we headed home from camp on the bus. I sat silently for much of the ride, absolutely shell shocked, before my friends all cheered me up by singing One Direction songs. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to focus on fan studies as part of my degree, which was a really nice reminder about the merits and community that can be found in fandom. I’m pretty grateful for my fangirling years, and the friends I made during them, even if I was incredibly dramatic. – Sariah*
When One Direction announced their first concert in NZ in 2012, I put 9 weeks of my pocket money together and brought a ticket to finally see my favourite band. Me and a friend brought sweaters, made stencils and wore our own, completely original, One Direction sweaters to the concert. We got so many compliments. We had an unbelievable time at the concert and I was so excited to post all about it on my One Direction stan Twitter. When they released their second album, they also put out a book showcasing fan art. As I flicked through it, I was shocked by a photo of my friend and I posing with a huge smile on our faces, proudly donning our DIY 1D sweaters. We were just so shocked that we made it on their album, out of millions of fans. Like, they probably saw our faces. Although it’s not fun seeing my 14 year old self, it’s a pretty fun story to tell and look back on my fangirl days. Can’t believe it’s been 8 years since then. – Jasmine*
*Names have been changed so the friends of fans don’t make fun of them