I Went to Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour 6 Times & This is Why

It doesn't really feel like it’s been 10 years since I sat at the lunch table listening to Love Story on repeat, day after day, or since I begged my mother for tickets to the Fearless Tour, specifically to hear that one song live. Since I was asked why I loved Taylor Swift so much, when I couldn’t possibly relate to her lyrics about love and loss when I’d never even been kissed. It doesn't feel like it's been 10 years since I first had to form the defense for my love for a musician, something that nobody should ever really need to do; I loved Taylor Swift because of the poetic quality of her lyrics, so well versed and formulated that I can take lessons learned from her own life and apply them to almost anything else in mine. Because even though I’d been in that school district for a few years I still tended to feel like the new kid without any friends, something which Taylor had proven wouldn’t matter a few years down the road. Because she's never let what other people thought of her stop her from reaching towards the stars and has always kept her head on straight.

So when she dropped off of the face of the planet after the 1989 World Tour came to an end I, like the rest of the Taylor Swift fandom, went a little crazy. When two years had come and gone, the reliable album cycle she’d stuck to since the beginning of her career, the panic that I might never hear a new song from her set in. She wrote The Lucky One about hoping to know when her time was up, to step back with grace instead of continuing to put out music that didn’t live up to her potential, and because I’m super dramatic I wondered if that time had come. 

But, finally, she wiped her social media platforms blank and announced the death of the old Taylor. Something big was coming; another tour was at last on the horizon. 

During previous eras I had been a regular on Tumblr, virtually following along as others followed Taylor on tour and wondering how they managed so many shows. During college, the Red and 1989 tours had to be carefully planned; I had to fly home to see the Red Tour and I roadtripped four hours to a city I'd never been to to see the 1989 World Tour, as she was going to be playing my hometown shortly after school started and playing areas by my college town over the summer. Plus, I didn't have any money. 

Then the Reputation Stadium Tour was announced, three long years since I’d gotten to see her last, and there was never a doubt in my mind that I was finally going to go to more than one show. And somehow, I found myself with tickets to not one, not two, but three record-breaking shows (and a guest-spot on Gillette's Snapchat); Taylor Swift is the first female artist to play Gillette Stadium three nights in a row, the first artist to play Mercedes-Benz Stadium two nights in a row, and played her 13th show in Atlanta this tour. 

The week before any of my planned shows, I was in Manhattan for a work event. My friend Julianne, who I’d met just the day before, was there, and was thinking about buying tickets to see Taylor at Metlife Stadium that night. Well, obviously I also wanted to go see Taylor at Metlife that night. It was the first time I’d seen Taylor with someone who loves her like I do, having been to previous tours with my grandmother or best friend, who went so I didn't have to go alone, and it was one of the best nights of my life. I danced so hard that night I gave myself a back cramp, frequently finding myself hunched over with my hands on my knees between songs. Julianne had already seen the tour but I had very actively avoided spoilers, wanting to be surprised throughout. I could not have been more so. I can't even count the number of times I turned to her like, 'Is she really about to do what I think she’s about to do?’

The second to last pre-show song is Mariah Carey’s "Obsessed," a brilliantly savage snub to those who refuse to just let her live her life. After Joan Jett’s "Bad Reputation," the massive darkened stage screens flicker to life with media clips spanning Taylor’s career, highlighting their obsession and hypocrisy with everything she does, both good and bad.

“This is the first time photographers have caught T. Swift on film in six weeks.”

“Taylor Swift is responsible for me being suspended.”

“Taylor Swift is on top of the world, but has she done some sketchy things to get there?”

“I can understand trying to keep your relationship to yourself in the beginning, or taking some time to work on your craft, but come on!”

“…and Taylor voluntarily bringing attention to herself with her donation.”

“What Swift did is not enough.”

“Taylor should focus on making sure the rest of Reputation….”

As the quotes die out, the word “reputation” distorts over the remainder of the audio, and the video clips of her from previous years turn to one of this era, about to look over her shoulder at the audience before the screen suddenly darkens and "Ready For It?" begins, kick-starting an intense two hours of a show that I’ll always liken to a Broadway musical with its costume changes, storylines and underlying musical themes.

I didn’t have time to plan an outfit for my impromptu show, something that has always been a very big tradition at Taylor Swift concerts, so I found myself in the same clothes I’d worn the night before, still damp from getting caught in the rain. It was game on for the rest of my dates, though. The next week, I wore a replica of one of Taylor’s stage outfits that I made, and, since sewing is not my forte, was thrilled when people recognized it, a dress I'd purchased specifically because it reminded me of the one she’d worn to the Met Gala as “Bleachella”, and an outfit that I had bedazzled to match a bodysuit from one of Taylor’s photoshoots. A couple of weeks later, I wore a snakeskin bodysuit and a denim jacket that I had customized just for the occasion and then broke the sequined jacket back out for my final show. And while I loved people recognizing my own outfits, it’s even cooler to see what others come up with! Two girls that had road-tripped all over the mid/northeast, seeing Taylor from the pit something like nine times, had Nascar-esque outfits that said “Taylor’s Pit Crew” on them. A man had had custom Patriots jerseys made for him and his daughter, and he had hand-bedazzled all of the letters. Couples coordinated in gold and blue, as daisies and poison ivy. They dressed up for drinking on the beach and like they were going to New Year’s Eve parties. Combined with LED bracelets that light up in time with the music, it’s like an enormous masquerade.

 

In the weeks leading up to my tour dates I started a majorly unsuccessful Twitter campaign to request Change as a secret song. Taylor has always been insanely interactive with her fans online, and even people who think they've never been noticed have influenced that decision before. I had never been noticed but hoped it would catch fire or somehow sit in the right spot when she checked her mentions. But when the time came for the secret song one night, the girls standing next to me asked me what I thought she’d sing. Obviously I had no idea, but was holding out hope for Change. “Oh, she never plays Change,” one said. But of course, that’s kind of the point of the secret song. When she started to introduce the song, I knew they were right; it was a song she said she’d been thinking about playing, so of course it couldn’t be. But then she told us about a girl in her earlier meet and greet who had been having a tough summer and had specifically requested the song she’d been thinking of. Could it be? “This song is called Change.” I lost. My damn. Mind. I grabbed Megan’s shoulder and used it as leverage to propel myself into the air, over and over. I screamed so loudly that everyone in the surrounding area turned to stare. The little girls in front of me thought I was crazy; their moms laughed at me. I don’t think I could have been louder if my life depended on it. I choked on sobs I couldn't control as I tried to sing along, tears actually streaming down my face, and my knees shaking so hard I thought I might fall.

I hope I never forget the way I felt in those five minutes. I hope each and every one of you gets to feel that way at least once in your life, because the overwhelming surprise and elation is indescribable. When people hear that I went to six shows, I usually get one of two reactions; the suggestion that I’m a psycho or the sentiment that they wished there was something that they were that passionate about. I wish that for them, too. There are plenty of things that make me happy in this world, but there’s nothing quite like spending a night with my best friends at a Taylor Swift concert. And honestly, I include the whole stadium in that sentiment. I’ve come to realize recently that Swifties are like drunk girls in bar bathrooms; they want to take pictures with you and get your phone number and help you fix your hair and be friends forever and ‘Oh my God this is my SONG, dance with me!!’ I met so many new people over those few nights, and I’ve never danced so hard in my life as I did at reputation. I danced with people I’ve known for years and with the guy seated next to me that I’d never seen before in my life. I danced with security guards and, for once in my life, I felt more than comfortable dancing on my own, too. I got to watch two of my best friends experience Taylor live for the first time. I got to bring my Goddaughter to the show, too, and her mom, who had previously thought I was on the psycho side of things, sent me the following the next day:

Maybe part of the “old Taylor” really is dead. After all, she rarely offers interviews these days and is caught on camera even less; it's more than clear that she's not taking the media's crap anymore. But she’s more dedicated than ever to meeting her fans, to interacting with us and letting us in more than ever before. While a lot of things have changed over the last few eras, I don’t think that will ever be one of them. The ONE thing I spoiled for myself about this tour was knowing that Long Live was on the setlist. This is my favorite song, Taylor or no, and I had always wanted to tattoo it one day in Taylor’s handwriting (because duh). But beyond my own desire to hear the song live for the first time in seven years, I think there are a number of reasons why that inclusion is so important this era. Because, ignoring the extra year before reputation, the collective eras for the first 5 albums had spanned a decade. When Taylor wiped her social medias clean, she essentially started over with a blank slate. One thing that hasn’t changed through all of it was her relationship with her fans. She introduces the song on tour by saying that it had always reminded her of us (RIP in peace me) and mashes up the song with the one ballad from reputation, New Year’s Day. So we go from “It was the end of a decade, but the start of on age,” to, “Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you… and I will hold on, too.” The end of the last decade’s worth of eras may signify the death of the old Taylor, but neither she nor we are going to forget everywhere we’ve been before now.

And I think the best is yet to come.