We're living in the golden age of fandom, where social media has allowed stans to interact with their idols on a daily basis. Whether you're a barb, lamb, belieber, or registered bardi gang member, you're probably @-ing somebody. On Stan Stories, we meet the internet's most dedicated followers and delve deep into their obsessions.
In the music video for "Stupid Love," the first single from last year's Chromatica, Lady Gaga gave Little Monsters a glimpse of the utopian world that inspired the conceptual dance record's title. It had an arid climate and sunny skies. Citizens were clothed in colorful costumes that were a little Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Bars and clubs were presumably open.
All the clues were there, but it took a while to realize the truth: Chromatica was somewhere Down Under.
This week came with the devastating reveal that not everyone is listening to Gaga's sixth album alone in their bedrooms, meekly miming along to the "at least I'm alive" line from "Rain on Me." In Australia and New Zealand, where rolling lockdowns, state border closures and mandatory quarantines for international travelers have effectively stamped out the pandemic, Gaga stans can hear her hits in their intended settings. One video shows mask-free revelers shouting along to "Replay" at Sircuit, a popular Melbourne gay club on Collingwood's bustling Smith Street strip.
GOODBYE COVID HELLO DANCING🥳💕 happy for Australia! Praying for the rest of the world that we all can be dancing tog… https://t.co/glCTuj2HJE
"We'd just finished watching Drag RaceUK in the bar upstairs, and went downstairs to dance," recalls Scott McCormick, who filmed the clip on Friday night, at the beginning of a four-day national long weekend. McCormick is Twitter mutuals with several Gaga update blogs, who proceeded to jealously broadcast his footage to the rest of the world. "It was probably for the best, because my caption for the video was something stupid."
Gaga retweeted the clip on Tuesday, causing McCormick to black out when he realized that this meant she'd heard him "butchering the bridge." But he was mostly thrilled. "She's just so important to me and to a lot of people, so it was pretty crazy to see her reach out and congratulate us."
While some Australian cities have technically been able to listen to Chromatica in public since mid-2020, that's actually not the case in Melbourne. After a second outbreak caused by a breach of hotel quarantine in July, the city went into a four-month lockdown that was labeled the toughest in the world.
"I went from being in a different country every five days to not leaving my apartment for four months," explains McCormick, who worked as a Contiki tour guide in Europe pre-pandemic. Letting loose on Friday night, "it just felt like we had a sense of normalcy again, and it was fun to dance and be gay again in a safe space."
Fellow Melbourne resident Matthew Papas, who filmed another viral Gaga club video over the weekend at a different queer club night, Poof Doof, was celebrating for similar reasons. "I actually lost my original job due to the harsh lockdowns here, so being able to come out of it with a new job and reaping the benefits has been incredible," he says. He remembers first hearing the iconic transition from "Chromatica II" to "911" during quarantine, and being excited to someday dance to it with friends. "I took the video and decided to post it as it was such a euphoric moment to finally be able to experience [the music] as I'm sure Gaga intended us to."
OH MY GODDDDDD CHROMATICA II INTO 911!!! I LOVE AUSTRALIAAAAAA https://t.co/6GOUyyBd7P
He shared his video with an excited, patriotic caption: "I LOVE AUSTRALIAAAAAA," congratulating fellow residents for their hard work and its amazing payoff. "I'm proud of us for pulling through and doing what needed to be done. Look at where we are today, especially in comparison to other parts of the world."
Ahem. As you might expect, not everyone was quite so excited to see Chromatica enjoyed on the dance floor. As reality sets in that the United States won't return to life as normal until next year at best, and that we've let the virus get so out of control that it's impossible to eradicate it without vaccines, can't the Australians keep this to themselves for a bit?
McCormick is sensitive that some Little Monsters will be pained by his video. "I feel for them immensely," he says. "I know a lot of people owe a great deal to [Lady Gaga], so when she released Chromatica with bop after bop, it was so hard to not be able to go somewhere where you could celebrate that freely with like minded people. And seeing us do it is something that, in the midst of a lockdown, would be hard to take in."
It might be healthier, though, to use the videos to visualize what life will look like when the pandemic is over in the northern hemisphere. And motivate us to keep social distancing until that's the case. As McCormick points out, there's an even greater prize to keep our eyes on: Gaga performing live. "I really can't wait to hear Chromatica at a tour level," he says. " She puts on a god damn show for us. So get your shit together everyone, so we can have that again."
"It is worth the wait," adds Papas, of that euphoric dance floor "911" moment. "Wear a mask, keep safe and soon you will get to join us on Chromatica!"