The magic of a Taylor Swift concert

Taylor Swift has renewed my faith in humanity. Right before tickets for her Eras Tour went on sale, I got a text from a very old friend:

“You still in Texas? We should go to the Taylor Swift concert.”

We’ve texted maybe a handful of times in the 15 years since we met in Tahiti.

“If we can get tickets. Let’s do it.” I texted back.

Jenny and Hannah, above and Jenny and her wife, right

I had no luck getting tickets. I didn’t even get the secret early access code. But Clark did. He got six tickets, in fact: “For you and me and my teenage niece and cousin and your wife and daughter.”

I thanked him profusely and asked what I owed him. He refused any money. “We can celebrate all three of our April birthdays!” he texted.

I’m not sure who among us was most excited — Clark, the teenage nieces, my wife who’s not a Swiftie but admires Taylor greatly, or my daughter Hannah and I, who have seen Taylor Swift a number of times and have spent way too much time over-analyzing her lyrics.

My daughter and I bought matching dresses and ordered tinsel for our hair and colorful, heart-shaped glasses and clear handbags and denim jackets with Taylor’s lyrics on the back.

“And here’s to my Mama,” Hannah’s jacket read. “Had to listen to all that drama,” mine read. I pulled out my Irregular Choice unicorn boots — just like the ones Taylor wore in her “Calm Down” video.

And then we waited. And waited.

We watched TikToks about merch and parking and what to wear and what not to bring. And then we started hearing about the bracelets — Friendship Bracelets. People were beading them and trading them.

I heeded the call.

In fact, I could not have heeded any faster. I bought the beads and the cord, and I Googled design ideas.

I started beading, and then Hannah came into town for the show, and we started beading together. I loved it. I loved the meditation of it, the creativity, the summer camp memories. And I loved doing it with my daughter. It felt so strangely wholesome in a world so often anything but.

My wife supported my new habit. She supports nearly anything that makes me happy like that.

And then came the night of the show. Hannah and I spent the whole day getting ready. My wife got us an Airbnb starting the night before the show so we could get up bright and early to get ready. It felt like prom.

My wife wore a custom tee that read, “Shade never made anybody less gay.” She hired a car to pick us up and then to get Clark and his niece and cousin. Clark’s niece and cousin were decked out in glitz and glitter. And Clark dressed like “Some Congressman.”

It was amazing. Amazing! We all took photos on the porch (prom reminder number two). And then off we went.

When we arrived, it was honestly, like no other concert I have ever been to. There was a sense a community, a camaraderie, a “we’re all in this together” feel that made it seem more like camp than a concert.

It was so hot, and we were all packed in together waiting to be let in. It could have been mayhem. But it just wasn’t. People were complimenting each other’s outfits and trying to guess what the surprise songs might be (Taylor plays two at every show).

And they were trading bracelets.

I have a confession to make. I was nervous I shouldn’t be twinning with my 24-year-old daughter or that no one would want to trade bracelets with an — ehem — “older” Swiftie. But I could not have been any more thrilled to quickly discover that I had absolutely, positively no cause for concern.

“I love your outfit,” I heard on giddy repeat. “Oh. My. God. Your boots!” “Ya’ll look so cute!”

And then the words I had been waiting to hear, “Are you trading?” Little girls and teenagers and college-aged girls and moms all came up to me to trade bracelets. I had two arms full. One was designated “to keep” and the other “to trade.” But I traded them all. I couldn’t resist. It was seriously the sweetest thing ever.

And the show — oh, the show! Taylor was spectacular. For more than three hours, she was just plum spectacular. We sang and danced, and I cried and cried. Maybe it was the lyrics. Maybe it was being surrounded by people I love — those I knew and those I didn’t. Maybe it was all of the anticipation.

Or maybe, it was finally being in the world as I would like it to be — where everyone is having fun and being nice and enjoying the moment.

I know. I know. Not everyone could get tickets. Scalpers are cheating people. Merch is being resold at insane prices. Mean girls are being, well, mean about, well, everything.

But I didn’t see any of that that night. All I saw was love. So many lights and so much music. The singing and the dancing and the shouting and the crying and an elation that could change the world.

It left me daydreaming about a world where kindness leads, and hate is kicked to the curb. I want to say thank you – to Clark for the tickets, to my wife for the logistics, to my daughter for the fits, to Clark’s niece and cousin for the joy-making, and to Taylor for reminding me that the world really can be a beautiful place.

“It was the night things changed. Can you see it now? These walls that they put up to hold us back fell down. It’s a revolution; throw your hands up. Cause we never gave in. And we’ll sing hallelujah.”

— Taylor Swift