There’s only One Direction for pre-teen fanatics

Screaming pre-teens with banners declaring undying love and tolerant parents is what met me at this weekend’s One Direction concert at FNB Stadium.

Being in my twenties and knowing the depths of fanaticism of the “Directioners” I was understandably apprehensive to embark on this journey to Soccer City, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Fans came out in their thousands to see their favourite band complete with the official 1D survival kit of: a custom t-shirt, a sign with Harry Styles’ face covered in glitter hearts and, of course, parental supervision.

The organizers seemed to be fearful with the large number of hormonal fans causing them to beef up security and enforce strict rules. Some new rules included parents accompanying their children to the concert with one particularly peeved and heavily tattooed father that I noticed who would seem more at home at a SlipKnot concert than waiting for his daughter to see her boyband heart throb.

The crowd waiting to see One Direction at FNB Stadium on March 28. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

The crowd waiting to see One Direction at FNB Stadium on March 28. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

But not all the Directioners got to see their favourite member, with the recent split of Zayn Malik, which sent fans into a whirlwind of tears, tantrums and emotional angst, even resulting in the bizarre hashtag of #CutForZayn promoting self-harm.

One 13-year-old named Nikata Bullah, who arrived in a limousine with her friends, described Zayn’s leaving the formerly five-person band as, “Losing a fifth of her heart.”

Instead of the usual beer drinking and stumbling audience that we are all familiar with, this audience of pre-teens were giddy on excitement, hormones and too much candy.

The show began with 2013 winner of SA’s Got Talent, Jonny Apple, nervously warming up the crowd with the help of guests, X Factor SA 2014 winners, FOUR. Then, just to add more suspense for the fans who were now fast approaching what would usually be their bedtime, they played party classics that everyone knew the words and moves to like “The Macarena,” “Single Ladies,” “You’re the One That I Want”, and others that only the mothers knew the words to, such as the Friends theme song.

The most baffling part however was watching thousands of midriff baring tweens singing “All the single ladies, now put your hands up”. You are eight years old … of course you should be single!

After hours of waiting for the show to begin the lights dimmed, the screaming hit a decibel that only cats could hear and the boy band, consisting of Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan, finally entered the stage.

The band performed their hits like “Steal My Girl,” “Midnight Memories,” and “Story of My Life” in between constantly thanking the crowd and telling them how amazing they were. They also told the usual lies of how this was the best crowd they ever had and waving the South African flag, just in case we all forgot what country we were in.

At moments I found the crowds reactions more entertaining than the band’s performance. The now quartet had to dodge many “gifts” being thrown on stage like teddy bears, large bras (clearly the mothers’) and plastic cups.

After a Mexican wave, a final thank you and the encore, the band left the stage while cleverly using an amazing fireworks display to distract the fans, so as to avoid possible tears and tantrums. Clever thinking boys!

It was an interesting experience even just to understand the lengths that fans of the four boys from England will go to in our own country. It also brought back memories somewhere deep, deep, DEEP down where there’s a little girl in each of us that remembers the moves to the Backstreet Boys songs and still knows which Spice Girl she was in her group of friends.