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This was the Directioners’ last chance.
By their calculations, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, and Louis Tomlinson had already left the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest D.C. Niall Horan and Liam Payne were the only One Direction members that remained. One Direction has a show tonight in Philadelphia, so the gaggle of Directioners—-kind of like Beliebers, but, you know, for One Direction—-figured they had to be leaving the hotel soon.
“Hopefully they see the hope dying in all of our eyes and come out,” said 18-year-old Emily Claure of Arlington.
Claure and four other Directioners had spent much of the last four days near the garage of the Mandarin Hotel—-right next to the entrance of the Federal Communications Commission on 12th Street SW—-trying to catch a glimpse of the band. One Direction performed to a sold-out crowd at Nationals Park Monday and, according to the hardcore fans, had been renting out the seventh floor of the hotel Sunday through Wednesday. (They tried to sneak up to the seventh floor at one point and were kicked out.)
Ellie Daniel, an 18-year-old from Arlington, spent 11 hours in the hotel lobby on Sunday with her 13-year-old sister to get a glimpse of the band. They had to order $50 of french fries just to stay inside the hotel. Alas, they never saw one of the five singers, just their hair stylist and the drummer of their touring band. (They took a picture with the stylist.)
They all went to the concert on Monday, and some of them camped out on Tuesday in order to spot the band. On Tuesday night around 11 p.m., Styles came outside to take photos with the 20 or 30 fans present, but Daniel wasn’t there because she was working at a restaurant in Clarendon.
“The one time I’m not there,” said Daniel. “I’ll forever be angry.”
Sixteen-year-old Victoria Ross traveled from North Carolina to attend the concert and stayed outside the Mandarin all night Tuesday. But she was on the wrong side of the hotel and missed Styles. She was in good spirits, though, and said she was going to a One Direction concert in Charlotte in September.
“I’m stalking them again in September,” Ross said.
But for the teens, including Claure, that did make the photo-op, Styles wasn’t enough. They tweeted at Horan to come down and say hello Tuesday. He responded saying he was too tired.
“@beaunerniall: @NiallOfficial NIALL WE ARE OUTSIDE PLEASE COME OUT” I'm going to bed ! I'm sorry! really Am! show day tomorrow— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) August 13, 2014
Daniel and her sister came back to the hotel at 7 a.m. today. At around 9:30 a.m., they heard Styles was attending an exercise class at the new SoulCycle in the West End, so the sisters took an Uber over there. They saw him, but he didn’t say hi or pause for a picture.
“It’s understandable,” said Ross. “It’s his personal space.”
Understandable, yes. But early Wednesday afternoon, the remaining Directioners really needed to get a picture with Horan and Payne. They even rehearsed what they would do if one of them walked out to chat. “We talked about what if one of them came out, what would we do,” said Ali Andrews. “We decided that we would stay calm and not scream, that kind of stuff.”
At about 1:30 p.m, a bus pulled out of the garage, and the teens took out their iPhones. True to their word, they stayed relatively calm, with just a few restrained squeals.
But the bus drove by with no visible waves from the inside. Adding further injury, a hotel security guard told the Directioners that no band members had been on the bus, just stage crew.
The Directioners weren’t buying it: One noticed Horan had just Instagrammed a photo of himself on a bus, so they were confident he had just left the hotel.
Wherever he was, though, it wasn’t at the Mandarin, so they finally dispersed.
Top photo by Perry Stein. Bottom photo courtesy of Emily Claure.