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Shrieks, meets and greets: the life of a fangirl

Ear-piercing shrieks, vibrant signs and crying outbursts are just another part of a day in the life of being a fangirl.

“I need to know entire tours, so I can plan my life out,” said Lauren James, a junior at Belmont, who follows The Cab and used to follow the now-broken-up Jonas Brothers around the country.

Fangirls, or extreme female fans, travel across the country and world to see as many concerts as they can by their favorite musical artists. They also study every aspect about the artist from trivial facts down to personal, private details.

College students who dedicate their life to fandom have many more obstacles to tackle due to their academic responsibilities. In order to keep up tour dates, they schedule classes on specific days to allow time for travel.

“I take classes three days a week,” James said. “I have Mondays and Fridays off to have options for myself. It allows me to go all over to see people.”

Belmont student Karoline Ihns has been to 16 shows already this year, so she knows the daunting task of managing her schoolwork while following the Jonas Brothers and Hanson.

“You have to be smart about your schedule,” Ihns said. “It’s all about planning and you have to go over dates all the time.”

The traveling isn’t just a typical weekend road trip, either. It involves flights across the country and occasionally, around the world.

“I flew from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to Nashville on New Year’s Eve to see Nick Jonas play,” Ihns said. “I’ve also gone to Germany to see Lady Gaga and London for John Mayer.”

The sacrifices start at scheduling, but take a lot more than just figuring out travel plans. Going to all of the shows costs money, and the higher the price paid, the better the ticket.

“The most I’ve ever paid is probably $350 for a VIP package,” said Belmont junior Jena Lavicka, who spent her extra cash following the Jonas Brothers everywhere. “But I usually spend about $75 to $100 for a show.”

James has paid similar prices, but when it comes to her favorite singers, price doesn’t play a factor in her decision.

“If it’s someone like the Jonas Brothers or Taylor Swift, I will pay however much they are asking,” she said. “I will spend up to $300 or $400 if I have to.”

To pay for all the expenses, these fangirls work odd jobs and participate in medical research studies for pay.

“I nanny in Nashville and I do a lot of paid studies at Vanderbilt,” James said. “I once got $1,000 for doing a sleep study. I pretty much sell my soul to medical science and children.”

Being a fangirl comes with many perks despite the costs. Some even get lucky enough to meet their idols.

“I met the Jonas Brothers on the streets of New York,” Lavicka said. “I was just walking and saw Kevin, Joe and then Nick get out of their car. It was pretty random, but I had a nice conversation with them.”

James has formed a close relationship with her favorite band, The Cab, after seeing and meeting them on many occasions.

“Alex DeLeon, the lead singer of The Cab, knows my name,” James said. “When my friend told me I was mentioned in the thank yous for their album, I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m in the thank yous.’ I just have a playful relationship with them and they are like older brothers to me.”

The fangirls said they aren’t only in it for the sake of the bands. It’s about making their own memories by going to shows and creating friendships.

“I love the connection when you meet with other fans,” Lavicka said.

Ihns agreed.

“Bonding with people you’ve never seen before over a band is the biggest connection you can have,” she said. “It’s mind-blowing that they love the same things you do.”

Some people don’t really get where the true dedication comes from or why fangirls want to spend their lives chasing after famous people. But even when they get hate thrown their way, the fangirls stand true to the artists they follow.

“People will make fun of you,” Ihns said. “You have to learn that this is who you are. If it makes you happy, it doesn’t matter.”

The long traveling and constant watch for tour dates and ticket prices may be a lot to juggle, but the No. 1 motive for the fangirl remains constant: it’s always about the music.

“Music is my sole passion in life. I’m doing what makes me happy,” Lavicka said. “I feel most at home when I’m in a concert venue, and it’s my escape.”

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