Although about 9,500 miles separate Minneapolis and Melbourne, the mutual love shared by some Australian Prince fans binds us together.
Sofie Antoniou, a policy analyst in Melbourne, has been a fan since she first discovered Prince’s Controversy as a teenager. Antoniou discovered Purple Rain soon after, and admits she skipped school five times to see the iconic film when it was first released.
“Prince made me curious. He made me want to know more,” Antoniou said. “From this point on, he became my teacher in so many ways. I was a young, rebellious teen, and I had dreams of being just like Apollonia and Vanity.”
Antoniou immersed herself in as many Prince-inspired events that she could attend.
“I will never forget the Melbourne club nights inspired by Prince where the dress code was lingerie,” said Antoniou. “We all went to clubs dressed in our lingerie just like Vanity and Apollonia, and it was normal.”
Not only did Antoniou continue to follow Prince’s music, she was able to meet him at an afterparty during his last stop in Melbourne. “I was one of the lucky few ladies to be invited into Prince’s private afterparty at Aria Bar,” Antoniou reminisced. “I also got to dance with our beautiful one.”
Shortly after his visit to Australia in April, 2016 for his Piano & A Microphone tour, the news broke that Prince was no longer with us. Antoniou was devastated.
“I will never ever forget when I was awoken at 3 a.m. by a close friend to break the news,” Antoniou said. “I turned on the TV and my life crumbled in front of my very eyes as I watched the breaking news. Everyone who knew me understood the depth of my love for Prince.”
Although Antoniou couldn’t listen to Prince music for a very long time as she was coping with his death, she eventually decided to find ways to honor her favorite music icon by organizing events in Melbourne for fans to celebrate and have a place to come together through Prince’s music.
Antoniou established Purple Love Australia, a social media page that relates to all things Prince. The page includes news, Prince music, photos, and promotes scheduled events that she and others organize at local bars and event centers around the Melbourne area.
“My first event was inspired after Prince’s last tour in Australia,” Antoniou said. The event, which was held at the venue where Antoniou met Prince, was thoroughly themed with purple lighting, purple love heart balloons, love symbols, purple cocktails, nonstop Prince music, and other visuals, and was attended by 450 purple fans.
Antoniou shares her love of Prince with other fans in Australia who also celebrate all things purple.
Ann-Marie Grech, also became mesmerized by Prince when Purple Rain was released. Gech’s love for Prince led her to travel to Minnesota just so she could immerse herself in the area that Prince inhabited. Gech remembered the emotions that she experienced when she visited the different sites around the Twin Cities.
“I cried as soon as I saw Paisley Park from the outside,” Grech wrote in an e-mail. “Once I was in, I cannot explain how I felt. I felt so overwhelmed. I felt his presence. We went on Prince tours, to First Avenue, and Electric Fetus. It was amazing.”
Fan Anna Vasiliou, who has loved Prince since the age of 12, plans to celebrate Prince both publicly and privately.
“The Prince tributes and concerts which I have attended, have helped us all grieve and at the same time, celebrate his life, music and legacy,” Vasiliou wrote in an email. “Prince knew how to bring people together, even now that he is not here physically on Earth.”
“In Memory of Prince Rogers Nelson, on the 21st of April, I will light a candle for Prince in my study,” Vasiliou wrote. “This is where my Prince memorial is, which is full of Prince CDs, albums, books and three beautifully framed Prince posters and limited edition prints. I will probably watch Prince movies and listen to Prince, either in my car or on my music apps.”
Antoniou now hosts annual events to celebrate the life of Prince. This month, she is helping to promote an event scheduled on April 21. While we celebrate the life of Prince in Minnesota, Antoniou and other Australian fans will be celebrating right along with us.
“There is an event in Melbourne where we are remembering Prince on the three-year death anniversary and celebrating his legendary music,” Antoniou said. “It’s going to be very emotional but I look forward to being with my purple family and immersing myself in purple bliss.”
Marla Khan-Schwartz is a writer who is mostly inspired by music, deep conversation, and a bold glass of red wine.