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I Rode Melbourne’s Free Taylor Swift Trams for 12 Hours Because I Love Free Things and Hate Myself

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I Rode Melbourne’s Free Taylor Swift Trams for 12 Hours Because I Love Free Things and Hate Myself
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Swiftie.

David Allegretti
By David Allegretti
February 20, 2024, 1:54am

Taylor Swift
I don’t mind Taylor Swift.

I think hating her is boring and honestly a bit sad, and being obsessed with her is as concerning as being obsessed with any celebrity. Personally, she elicits no emotional reaction from me – but I won’t touch the radio if one of her songs comes on. I’ve run around The Tan with a little extra oomph listening to the song where she calls karma her boyfriend. I’m only human.

The scary thing about Taylor Swift is not Taylor Swift, it is her legion. Taylor Swift fans are kind of like Rick and Morty fans but with chunky friendship bracelets.

So when I heard the news Melbourne was extending its free tram zone to the MCG – into my neighbourhood – specifically for the Eras tour, I was naturally concerned. The kind of people who shit themselves in adult nappies to stand within 300 metres of a 34-year-old woman make me uncomfortable.

But it is in discomfort where growth hides. I knew what I had to do.

The Swiftie is not going anywhere, so it is we who must adapt to its omnipresence.

I must learn about the Swiftie. Study its habits.

Sometimes one must do horrible things… just to feel alive.

And that’s why I’m here, on a sunny afternoon, riding the number 70 tram, up and down the city, like a lab rat devoid of hope searching for purpose beyond the cage. The tram is empty now, but for how long?

In the city I spot a line. Lines fascinate me. How is anything worth lining up for? Jesus Christ could be bestowing heavenly forgiveness, but if there’s a 5-minute line I’m sorry, JC. I choose to burn.

I wander inside and I’m amazed, the Swifties are being branded!

I’ve seen Gladiator, I like the part where he’s branded with SPQR, the mark of Rome. I think it’s cool. I get it.

As I watch I play with the idea of getting a tattoo myself. It would make a cool story. But I already have an ibis on my thigh from a previous VICE story. I can’t just be the VICE tattoo guy. What would your mother think?

I decide to get on the tram again.

Now things are heating up. All around me I see plastic cowboy hats and chunky bracelets. The tram is packed and hot, because apparently air con isn’t a thing, but it’s a nice vibe. People are chatting about Taylor, it’s packed with kids with their mothers or aunties or older sisters, groups of friends in matching outfits and glitter. Everything has glitter.

A real Swiftie in the flesh

I get off at the MCG and decide to roam down Swan Street. That’s where I spot this guy. I ask him if I can take his photo. He says sure, and tells me he’s come all the way from Essex for the show. Thinking I misheard, I clarify, and find out that yes, this man flew from England to see Taylor Swift in Melbourne. Ok one sec, I say, I have to get a beer with you.

Robbie is 62. I assumed that maybe he was seeing the show with his wife, or daughter, or somebody. But no, he’s flying solo tonight. It seems I’m having a beer with Essex’s biggest Swiftie.

Footage shows an Israeli drone warning people to leave Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis..
I decide to get on the tram again.

Taylor Swift bracelets on the tram
Now things are heating up. All around me I see plastic cowboy hats and chunky bracelets. The tram is packed and hot, because apparently air con isn’t a thing, but it’s a nice vibe. People are chatting about Taylor, it’s packed with kids with their mothers or aunties or older sisters, groups of friends in matching outfits and glitter. Everything has glitter.

A real Swiftie in the flesh
I get off at the MCG and decide to roam down Swan Street. That’s where I spot this guy. I ask him if I can take his photo. He says sure, and tells me he’s come all the way from Essex for the show. Thinking I misheard, I clarify, and find out that yes, this man flew from England to see Taylor Swift in Melbourne. Ok one sec, I say, I have to get a beer with you.

Thumbs up for Taylor
Robbie is 62. I assumed that maybe he was seeing the show with his wife, or daughter, or somebody. But no, he’s flying solo tonight. It seems I’m having a beer with Essex’s biggest Swiftie.

He tells me about his aunt Nelly, who fell in love with an Australian Air Force gunner during World War 2. The two married in London the day after the war ended and moved to Australia. They had four girls, and now, Robbie is here to visit them. But he’s also here to see Taylor.

“Taylor Swift is absolutely fantastic,” he tells me. “Most bands play for about an hour, hour and a half – and I know the tickets are expensive – but she’s going on stage for three hours, and she’s giving it all. So what she’s doing is wonderful, and she’s the best about at the moment. Everyone I’ve spoken to here in Melbourne who was lucky enough to see her, they all say what a fantastic time they’ve had. She’s just brilliant on stage.”

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