So I’m a huge Depeche Mode fan. That’s been no secret to anyone who has known me throughout my life. It’s one of the first things that come out when someone meets me.
During high school, when I found their music, I was obsessed by it and couldn’t stop playing their cassette tapes on my Sony Walkman. I remember this one time I was on the school bus on my way home, I must’ve been in 8th grade, and one of the older kids who used to bully me ripped my Catching Up With Depeche Mode tape off my hands and started shouting, “Look, everybody! This is what he listens to! Gay music! Check out the guys on the picture! Do you think they’re cute, Dicken? Do you want to make out with them? Muack muack muack!”
I honestly don’t remember what my response was, but knowing myself, it was probably something like “Well, I really like their music and I don’t judge people by the way they dress,” or something lame like that — honest but utterly ineffective in stopping someone from picking on you. In any case, this incident wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, in which I would be singled out for the music that I love.
At this point, I must clarify that during the ’80s in Colombia, the only two radio stations that played music in English were focused on commercial music, either pop acts like Madonna and Michael Jackson or glam/heavy rock bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. That’s what “real men,” like my bully, listened to. These stations would sometimes play what they called “alternative” music, usually the same three songs from Depeche Mode, The Cure, Erasure. And we, the people who listened to that music, were considered “freaks” and “weirdos.”
At first, I felt this discrimination kind of annoying. But then, I realized that it brought me together with other freaks like me, and it became an advantage because it helped me establish connections with some great people. And that’s when I started to grasp the concept that we, Depeche Mode fans, are a special breed. We are turned on by a witty line of poetry and a beautiful melody to go with it. We are sensitive individuals who understand the suffering of this world — often having experienced it firsthand — and want to do something about it. We understand that people are people, and we get pissed off at those who don’t get it. We are aware of our primal human impulses and channel them on a dance floor. And we commune at their live shows as if they were part of our religion, because for most of us, it’s the only religion that makes any sense. And to it, we are faithfully devoted.
But I didn’t fully understand the extent of this connection among DM fans until recently. It was exactly two years ago today that my kids and I were asked to take over Depeche Mode’s Facebook page for a day. Reading all the positive comments from people around the world was such a truly inspiring experience that it gave us — it gave me, for sure — a sense of belonging. And the Takeover was just the beginning. It became the reason and the catalyzer for us meeting some wonderful human beings during this past year: Jenna, Daniel, Cristian, Liz, Carine, Indra, Avital, Joana… so many people with whom we felt such a strong connection and lived such amazing experiences, we now consider our family. All thanks to this band and what it attracts and creates with its music.
Like Jenna said it very eloquently on her blog post, it’s amazing how something that seems so trivial, like your favorite band, can give you a sense of community and family. But that’s exactly what DM has done, like no other band in history. That’s why we are special and we wear their t-shirts with honor. I am proud to be a devotee, and to have made devotees out of my kids. Because the memories and the friends that we’ve made thanks to Depeche Mode will last forever, just like their legacy.