The email subject line included a heart emoji – “♥Calling Taylor Swift Fans” – and offered presale access to The Eras Tour, scheduled in nearby Tampa for shortly before my 70th birthday. “Maybe this could be an early present to myself,” I thought. And was it ever.
I learned a lot from beginning to end, and to mark my seven decades I noted seven lessons I picked up from participating.
As a Capital One customer, I was sent a link to the presale. I got kicked off the waiting screen twice, but on my third try, I got in! I paid face value for high-demand tickets and enjoyed five months of bragging rights for something that was due mostly to luck.
I joined the “Taylor Swift Eras Tour Tampa Shows” Facebook group, which gave me an insider’s view of Swiftie culture, listed neighborhood driveway alternatives to stadium parking, and clued me into where to find itty-bitty purses that complied with the stadium’s bag-size restrictions.
A question I posted about whether other older people were attending spawned 60 “you go, girl” comments and also caught the attention of a 75-year-old, non-ticket-holding superfan who eagerly snapped up my spare ticket since I was using only three of the four I’d purchased.
I casually threw on a red top with jeans to honor the “Red” album, but most attendees thoughtfully put together outfits representing a favorite among the 10 Taylor Swift eras, a.k.a. albums.
The floor-length prairie dresses draping “Folklore” and “Evermore” fans contrasted with the middle eras’ glam of shorts and miniskirts beneath bustiers and midriff tops. The scene was Halloween on fringed, sequined, booted steroids – all colors and fabrics welcome, shine appreciated, tulle a plus.
Live music is a group activity that fosters camaraderie as we experience it together. Two of my adult daughters joined me, making this an even more special pre-birthday occasion, but in a way the whole crowd felt like family. We sang in unison, and when the words failed me, I could take cues from Swifties facing each other to mirror animated pronunciation.
Taylor Swift arrived in Nashville as a 14-year-old singer-songwriter with a pile of songs already crafted. While it took a large team to bring a grand show like The Eras Tour to the concert stage, this was really the tour de force of one person.
Taylor provided all the vocals for the 44 self-penned songs, didn’t stop moving for three and a quarter hours, played piano, strummed guitar and worked the ever-changing choreography. In Tampa, she did this for three consecutive nights.
Architectural Digest devoted an entire article to The Eras Tour’s “intricate world-building” – the imaginative, mesmerizing staging that transformed seamlessly with each segment of the setlist. And we didn’t have to show appreciation by holding up a lighter as in the old days or flashing a cell phone as in the newer old days, because we were each handed a programmed bracelet that lit up periodically in multiple colors to create a bleachers sideshow.
Anticipating the concert, I had a fair amount of anxiety, rooted partly in my TV news-fed doubts about whether a crowd of roughly 70,000 could be peaceful. And it felt like such an ordeal, from the chance-of-rain forecast to likely long concession lines to the late-night drive back to my home in Sarasota.
It would have been so much easier to just not go. But attendees couldn’t have been nicer or the weather better or the process more orderly or the stadium staff more polite. At 11pm, the women’s restrooms were stocked with thick toilet paper rolls. I was not expecting that.
My bottom line was that this experience was so worth the effort. I think the pandemic turned many of us into frightened homebodies, and maybe it’s time to shed our thin Covid skin. If you’re able to score tickets for The Eras Tour, perhaps coming to a city near you on one of the remaining dates, I suggest you pick yourself up, dig out your sparkly bodysuit and, as Taylor sings, “make the whole place shimmer.”
Have you been to a concert recently? Whose concert was it? Did you feel anxiety before you went? What did you feel afterwards? Do you think it was worth it? What did you bring back home as lessons learned?