“Duran Duran is not a band, it’s a place” – unknown quote circa 1986/87
“..it’s the national flag of Duran Duran” – quote by John Taylor
both from Smash Hits issue 219 April/May 1987
It seems unfathomable that I’ve never produced a piece on Duran Duran given this blog’s cultural stance on the new wave. I am currently in Spain which must be a Duran obsessive’s paradise! What with Barbarella’s and Notorious style fingerprints in Bilbao to Duran Abogados in Barcelona. And let’s not forget Mediterranea (found in the Tarragona library). But is it Duranistan? Or is that in the more humble confines of suburban Birmingham? Last year (in my year of B’s Barcelona, Bristol etc) I narrowly missed out on a trip to Duran Central as the train fare from Cardiff was beyond ridiculous. Still waiting on Sri Lanka too but more on that below…
Duran Duran have always carried a travel aesthetic from Night Boats and Tel Aviv to Rio and its legendary videos in Antigua and Sri Lanka to the Indian flavoured iconography of Seven and the Ragged Tiger. And it’s that aesthetic (along with James Bond and Indiana Jones) that really got me hooked on the band. Just like Brian Eno‘s Music for Films, Duran do real and imaginary; The Edge of America, Antarctica and where on Planet Earth is Medazzaland?
From John Taylor’s autobiography we know he has a particular interest in capital cities, rivers and flags, so it’s no surprise some of these geographic markers make an appearance on the cover imagery for Meet El Presendente (Vietnam) and I think The Reflex (South Korea). Note the quote by JT at the beginning of this here blog. Staying with the Tiger, the band image on the front suggests a modern skew on Phileas Fogg’s reform club in London; the band are British but about to embark on another adventure.
Returning to Spain, the Arena cafe bar above continues the theme, though there are no obvious odes to Duran Duran in this case. Then I’m in a shopping mall and cue grumpy security guy when I see and snap another picture (below right) but no bored security guy stops KH! Am I missing anything here from the (extra)ordinary world of DD? Are there other Duran geo-pointers? Where is YOUR Duranistan?
Just for fun here’s an intriguing glance at a supposed Duranistan from someone who really should be doing other things…
SUBURBS: RHODES (ARTISTS QUARTER), TAYLORTOWN, CUCCURULLO, SADKIN, THURSTON, KIMSEY, GARRETT, EGANSVILLE, NILE REPUBLIC, RONSON and MULCAHY
Rhodes is the artists’ quarter where you can buy paints 🎨 and use them. Photography, ballet, theatre 🎭 a writers retreat everything arty happens here.
Taylortown is working class but not too bad a place to live (though you’ll need to have the surname Taylor to live there). There’s the odd factory and it’s home to the Power Station as well as the clubs Friends of Mine and Some Like it Hot which is also a nostalgic cinema.
Cuccurullo is the strangest suburb home to its namesake fitness gym and spa. It’s also the sleazy side of town. The biggest sex shop Bedroom Toys has its base here as does night club Privacy.
Sadkin is where the elderly reside, it’s paradoxically a place you never get old. The evergreen and forever young collide in Sadkin.
Thurston is another working class district not unlike Taylortown, affordable, 1970s modern bungalows based on German designs, Thurston has a nose for a future that never was.
Kimsey is a suburb that’s part rock n’ roll – think the Stones, otherwise it’s kind of middle class where the girls have a tinge of the 50s about them and all appear to be called Kimberley though they’re not so innocent! Home to the Love Voodoo Tattoo parlour.
Garrett, so named after the eccentric designer who some say was a freemason and heretic as he devised an arcane numbers based communication system to avoid detection by powers that be, is next to Rhodes a predominantly arty quarter and is home for many designers and other creatives who commute into Rhodes for work or pleasure.
Egansville is the proverbial land of milk and honey. Upmarket with white picket fences, everyone wants to live there but could it be too perfect?
Nile Republic is an exclusive enclave within Lebonia and where many hipsters and immigrants reside. Those who like to skat and skate, jump and jive this is to Lebonia what Brixton or Ladbrook Grove are to London. HQ to the club Chic Mystique.
Ronson is another working class area. It is to boys what Kimsey is for girls. The rough and ready modern day teddy boys looking for trouble or sex you could call them wild boys only a touch more refined with Burberry and paco rabanne. They’re ready to make their mark and burn the ground.
Mulcahy is a nice leafy suburb. Affordable apartments in neutral shades. It’s the perfect place to retreat at 5pm, a single persons Egansville.
POPULATION: 2,593,760 and counting! (Colloquially known as Duranies).
CLIMATE: You can taste the summer ☀️ however visitors are reminded the sound of thunder is not far away and when it rains ☔️ there’s no holding back, pack well.
LANGUAGE: English though some residents also communicate in an Arcadian visual dialect devised by Garrett using numbers.
POLITICAL: Liberal though some unrest through protests around Election Day. The Violence of Summer (1990) was Duranistan’s Paris, 1968 which is marked with a city centre monument and cenotaph on the site of demolished dive bar the Sugar-shack. Also take due caution with drunken Latino’s carrying gasoline.
UTILITIES: The Electric ⚡️ Barbarella Corporation runs the Power Station. Gas ⛽️ DP Duranistan Pretrolium, Telecoms: DT Duran Telecom.
MONEY AND CURRENCY: Bank of Duranistan trades in British Pounds 💷
EDUCATION: The Duranistan University of Arts includes the The Lebonia Institute of Literature and Frontmanology (Drama and Generic Prancing), the Music School in Taylortown (non-Taylor’s are granted a special permit to attend), the Centre for Film and Video has two campuses; one in Mulcahy and another in Egansville. A Photography studio and Fashion school is located in Rhodes while the Graphic Arts are housed in Garrett.
ENTERTAINMENT: THE BIG LEBONSKI Arena, Cinema and Bibliotec Complex has a prime location on the river near the Chinese rocks.
The Musee Duran houses many records, documents and artefacts including some loaned from JT’s Vault.
Visit the Universe Alone Planetarium to discover all about the stars. The ‘Faster than Light’ and ‘Anyone Out There’ exhibitions are a must and can be purchased with one ticket. The adjoining Natural History Museum informs about Planet Earth. All three also available with one ticket.
Lebonia Zoo: Wolves, Lizards, Snakes, Tigers, Palomino’s, Leopards.
GYM: Cuccurullo’s Health and Fitness Spa.
CLUBS: Barbarellas, Friends Of Mine, Privacy, Rum Runner, Room 7609, Nite Runner, Chic Mystique.
SEX SHOPS: Big Thing, Bedroom Toys, Skin Divers.
OTHERS: Love Voodoo Tattoo Parlour and the Face for Today modelling agency.
THE RIVER: Lebonia is best seen from its river the Rio Duran. Two operators ply the waterway the most popular being the Night Boat cruise. A rival firm the All Along the Water Baby cruise co also run trips on the river though it’s thought some may host dodgy parties! Well, someone has to shop at Bedroom Toys don’t they.
MEDIA and COMMUNICATIONS: The postcards and telex may have ceased but the Reportage Media Centre for (never) too much information rolls on for Duranies: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Radio 7609, and You Tube.
EMERGENCIES: Duranistan National Guard will keep you safe in the heat of any moment.
HEALTH ISSUES: Come Undone Centre for Rehabilitation, also the Leave a Light On Foundation for vulnerable persons and the missing.
CHURCH: As Duranistan is politically liberal there are many churches ⛪ synagogues 🕍 and mosques 🕌 some practice ancient scriptures while some are progressive practicing a new religion. At the Church of the Fallen Angel the most popular hymn is Save a Prayer 🙏 *all the more relevant following the horrific events in Sri Lanka back in the real world.
SECRET OKTOBER MASONIC HALL: Expect lots of dubious men, possibly disciples of Garrett, wanting to change their names as the sun goes down (sometimes in the eyes of a stranger). Strange behaviour guaranteed (see below).
PARKS AND GARDENS: Rose Arcana Botanical Gardens includes the Arcadian Pavilion as well as the Shame Garden of Remembrance. The annual freemason’s tree tape measuring contest takes place in March. It’s also where the tomb of Lady Ice was found some years ago. Until then she was often regarded as a myth.
TRANSPORT: DURANAIR flies to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Paris, Nice, Rome, Milan, Tel Aviv, Rio, Colombo (Sri Lanka), New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo And Sydney. Lebonia is served Downtown by light rail to most districts. Chauffeur Service also available.