Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’ Changed my Life

I can already guess that some of you are rolling your eyes, and you know what? – fair enough. Even I can admit that the headline seems a little dramatic. But it’s true. Attending Taylor Swift’s The Era’s Tour really did change my life.  

Let me set the scene for a moment. Indulge me.  

It’s 4pm in the afternoon, a Saturday in Sydney. The weather has been strange, with sun-showers and a chill in the air. Now though, the sun is peeking through clouds as I lay out my clothes in my hotel room.  

I’m wearing a white baby-doll dress and my sparkly cowboy boots, a nod to Taylor Swift’s first self-titled album, known affectionately as Debut. My hands shake as I carefully do my makeup on the hotel room floor and my boyfriend watches on with curiosity as I adorn the corners of my eyes with blue diamantes and carefully use paint markers to create the number 13 on one of my hands.  

Next come my friendship bracelets, the ones I spent hours making within the four walls of my bedroom whilst listening to Lover and Evermore on my record player.  

I Uber to my friend’s hotel to finish getting ready. My heart beats heavy in my chest and I am filled with nervous butterflies. We scream and screech when we see each other, and they too are in specially selected outfits for the night. My friend Lucy wears a pink shimmering sequin skirt and a t-shirt with a pink bow – a nod to Lover. Molly wears a matching outfit but in silver, with a disco ball t-shirt, a reference to the song mirrorball.  

I lie on their bed and watch as they do their makeup in the mirror, adding extra glitter to their eyes, and taking turns spraying each of our faces with setting spray. Lucy and Molly perch next to me on the bed and I carefully hold their hands, drawing matching 13s for all of us, which we carefully colour in with neon pink eye shadow.  

We trail into the bathroom and take turns leaning over the sink so that Lucy can spray our hair with glitter. We laugh, dancing around, predicting what ‘surprise songs’ she might play tonight. We scatter into the living room of their hotel, posing together for photos, making TikTok’s and making sure everyone has everything they need for the night.  

Finally, with full camera rolls and nervous excitement, we walk together to the train station.  

On the walk there, we hold hands, sing, strut, laugh and twirl through the Sydney streets. People give us strange looks. These glittering, bejewelled young women, adorned in bows and sequins, cowboy boots and miniskirts, making our way down a suburban street. For one of the first times in my life though, I don’t care. I don’t care, because I’m young and beautiful and holding hands with my best friends.  

As we get on the train, I am shocked to find that every carriage is jammed full of other Swifties headed to the concert. Everyone is dressed up, giddy with excitement – a sea of cowboy hats, glitter, dresses, skirts, clattering jewellery and joy. Some of the women in the carriage near us start to sing, at first, people join in quietly – singing under their breath, or humming along to the songs we all know by heart.  

Soon though, our entire carriage is singing as loud as we can, and other carriages down the train join in too. Women are dancing in their seats, and little girls grin up at them, squeezing their mother’s hands. 

I realise as I stand on the train that it is also the safest I’ve ever felt on public transport – not once have I been pushed or shoved, not once have I felt a hand graze my ass, nor have I felt the need to hold my bag tight against my chest.  

As I look around this train, filled with old and young women and girls, I feel a deep sense of pride. I am proud to be a girl. I am proud to share in this joy.  

A little girl taps my friend on the shoulder. She is dressed in a purple-sequined bodysuit, her front two teeth are missing, and she grins up at us. “Wanna trade?” she asks with a beam. She points at her tiny wrists, covered in her friendship bracelets.  

And so, we trade bracelets with her, letting her carefully pick her favourite ones off our wrists before she excitedly gives us one of hers. She’s wearing bright pink lipstick, and I can almost picture myself at her age – begging my mum to let me wear some of hers. I can almost imagine her mum saying, “You can wear some tonight… but only because it’s Taylor Swift!”  and I can feel her joy at feeling beautiful and grown up.  

Tonight, I too feel like a little girl again.  

I’m 8 years old again, listening to Love Story religiously and dreaming of living in a castle, wondering if one day I will marry a prince.  

I’m 9 years old dancing in my room with my little sister to “I Knew You Were Trouble”, swinging on our bunk beds, whispering under blanket forts and sharing our Lip Smackers Coca-Cola flavoured lip balms.  

I’m 11 years old and listening to 1989 on my iPod in the back of my dad’s car. I’m clipping fake pink braids into my hair, adorning mesh fingerless gloves and going to the primary school disco, screaming to ‘Shake it off’ with my friends and squealing.  

I’m 14 and Reputation makes me feel like the coolest person alive, when in reality I am a braces-wearing, goody-goody who still wears her hair in a side ponytail and cries if someone raises their voice. It doesn’t matter though – because Reputation makes me think that I can be someone cool, someone strong, someone who doesn’t care so much what other people think of her.  

I’m 16 and Lover fills me with giddy hope, a love-sick lurch of an album that has me daydreaming of what it would be like to love someone and be loved in return.  

I’m seventeen again, listening to Folklore and Evermore for the first time in the midst of the pandemic, lying on my bed and staring at the ceiling feeling helpless and lost and wondering what kind of person I will become. Feeling just a little bit less alone in mourning my old self.  

I’m nineteen for Midnights, and I find myself falling back into the safe recluse of her music- letting the lyrics and beat wrap around me, cocooning me. I listen to the new album on repeat for months as I question the direction of my life, wonder whether my degree was the right choice, and wonder if that younger version of myself would like the person I’m becoming.  

When the concert begins – I can’t help but cry.  

As the crowd roars to life, and the montage begins to play – featuring snippets of Taylor’s voice with lyrics and the titles of each album in her career, she emerges from the centre of the stage with ‘Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince’.  

“It’s you and me, that’s my whole world”, the song begins.  

Time stands still. This here, this moment. In a sense – it is my whole world. Her music has been the web that ties pieces of my life and memories together. This is the soundtrack to most of my life.   

I cry tears of joy as she erupts onto the stage, I’m shaking with the sheer joy and disbelief that this is happening. That the storyteller who I have spent so many years and days with – is in the same room as me.  

The concert is a whirlwind – an experience that is as close to religious as I have ever experienced. The crowd pulses and throbs together like a beating heart, a tangle of bodies all moving as one. Thousands of women holding hands, crying, laughing, and screaming at the top of their lungs.  

Women being allowed – possibly for the first time in some of their lives – to take up space. To be unapologetically “cringe”. To fangirl. To dance. To feel safe. To experience joy, hand in hand, with strangers.  

I watch strangers take photos for each other and hold overflowing bags of merch for strangers as we frantically try and duck into the men’s bathroom to avoid the queues. I see friendships forged in the never-ending lines for the trains on the way home. Social media information is exchanged alongside bracelets, water passed around, and hands being held in long trailing chains as friends ensure no one gets separated from their group. No woman left behind.   

I wake up the next morning, still covered in glitter. As I travel that day, I spot other girls with their friendship bracelets still on – we exchange a smile and an unspoken bond. I feel like I’m in on a big secret.  

The Era’s Tour concert changed my life. It reminded me of who I am and where I came from. It sparked in me a girlhood joy that I had forgotten existed. It also reminded me of my younger self; a girl I had been hell-bent on erasing.  

I’m reminded how much she loved glitter and dancing, holding hands with her friends, sharing lip gloss and being loud and boisterous and unapologetic.  

I no longer want to erase her. In fact, I’m beginning to fall back in love with these past versions of myself.  

At the end of the day – she’s all I have.  

Jess Morgan
Jess Morgan

Jess Morgan is a Law and Journalism student at QUT, she has always been drawn to words and the way we shape them. She has been published in QUT Glass, The Stew Magazine, the interactive exhibit ‘Love Letters to Brisbane’, ScratchThat, as well as being a reader for QUT Literary Salon. She has a passion for poetry, and free-form creative styles. Jess believes that stories shape us and connect us to one another. Find more of her work @wordsfromthe.sky_

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