Lang Leav and the fan culture

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know how much I love Lang Leav and her work. You would also know how excited I was to get to meet her at the book signing she held here in Manila last month.

I love her work because of how simple and relatable her poems are. For a self-professed bookworm, I haven’t been to any book signing in my life. But I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet her, even if that meant traveling to the other side of the metro.

Her signing session at Fully Booked’s Bonifacio Global City flagship store was going to start at 2 p.m. But we were instructed that they would be giving out stubs for the session by the time the store opens at 10 a.m., which means I have to get there before that to make sure that I don’t miss out on the book signing.

Lang Leav and the fan culture (1)

View of Fully Booked while waiting outside for the store to open.

I mentioned I live in the other side of the metro (Quezon City, to be exact). Travel time would usually be around an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the traffic. And while this was a Saturday morning, I still didn’t want to take my chances. That would mean I have to be out of the house by 7 a.m. on a SATURDAY. I am typically an early riser but this still felt a bit crazy for me. A part of my mind couldn’t comprehend why I’d willingly head all the way to the other side of the city just to have a book signed by this author.

I have always had fangirl inclinations but I still find the culture strange and fascinating. I’m the type of person who is really enthusiastic about the things I love. And that entails lining up for hours to get concert tickets; buying the expensive “limited edition” stuff when I can afford it; etc. In short, I’d do anything to support the people who make these things I love.

I suppose I should get used to the idea that there are other people just like me. And at times even more passionate than I am. Those that would go through extreme lengths for the things they love. But I’m still not used to it and I don’t think I ever will get used to it.

So, that means I was still surprised to see around 20+ people (mostly young girls) outside of Fully Booked before 8:30 in the morning to get stubs for the book signing happening in the afternoon. It must have been a sight for the many people passing by. A lot of them blatantly staring at this line forming outside of Fully Booked and spilling onto the stores next door.

The line was getting longer by the minute that the security guards in the area didn’t know what to do with us. The guard came up to me and asked “Bakit kayo nakapila? (Why are you in line?)”. I explained that we were in line to get stubs for a book signing happening that day. We were just waiting for the bookstore to open. I can sense his befuddlement at the entire situation. I don’t think he got why we had to wait in line in front of a store that wasn’t even open yet.

And while he will not read this, Mr. Security Guard, we were in line that early because we didn’t want to miss out on a chance to meet someone we admire or has touched our lives. It seems like bizarre behavior but it feels like a normal thing to us. It’s like sacrificing things to make a dream come true. I know this is an oversimplification but that seems to be at the core of the fan culture.

An example is this 14-year-old girl in line with me that day who came from the Nueva Ecija or something just for the event. She and her dad left their home at 4 a.m. just to make it in line by 8:30 or so. Bless the man for indulging his daughter and helping her make her fangirl dream come true. I hope she grows up a writer and meet many people who will say they are inspired by her. But I digress…

When you think about it, the waiting just begun. We were done getting our stubs by 10:15 or so and the signing starts at 2 p.m. Good thing my friend and I had plans to pass the time but that still was a good four hours or so spent “wasting” time to wait. And of course, there is also the waiting during the event to get your booked signed. And all that time spent waiting will be for a few minutes of interaction with Lang.

Lang Leav and the fan culture (3)

Lang was very gracious with everyone who came up and had their books signed.

But the thing is the whole thing is worth it. I will probably never be able to explain this in a way that someone not embedded in the fangirl/fanboy culture will understand but trust me when I say that the fan environment can be a good thing.

Aisha Tyler was talking to Josh Radnor about Comic Con on his podcast guesting and how she loves the experience. She was saying how there’s just something great about being in a room with people dedicated to loving something.

I can’t help but agree with that idea. The fan culture allows you to truly appreciate something and find people who feel the same way about you. So, “wasting time” in pursuit of the fandom doesn’t feel like a terrible waste to me.

They let us choose which page we wanted Lang to sign.

They let us choose which page we wanted Lang to sign.

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