Anxious fans camp out on the eve of Taylor Swift’s concerts in Madrid: ‘I’m fulfilling a dream’

The first fans are already lining up and buying merchandise near the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, where the artist will play two concerts on Wednesday and Thursday

Taylor Swift’s concerts in Madrid
Fans of Taylor Swift on Tuesday outside Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid.Álvaro García
Caio Ruvenal

The concerts that Taylor Swift will play on Wednesday and Thursday in Madrid are shaking up the Spanish capital. It’s been said that streets will be closed to traffic, that schools near the concert venue have had to change their schedules, that hotels and concert tickets have tripled in price, that celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and the Obamas will be there. The epicenter of this earthquake is the Santiago Bernabéu soccer stadium, home of Real Madrid and for two days also home to the most lucrative tour in music history. At the subway station there are already people with bags sporting the name of the artist. On the street, about 200 people are walking in and out of the official merchandise store that opened on Tuesday. A few feet further north, on Paseo de la Castellana, around 20 fans have been camping out since early morning to be the first in line.

“Many people follow Taylor because of her lyrics, they are like stories that she tells you, and they help you a lot,” says Lucía, 17, who is standing in line with her friend of the same age to buy t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters and bracelets. Each one is already wearing around 10 bracelets distributed on both arms, threads adorned with plastic pearls with the name of a song or lyric that are exchanged between fans. A few spots further down the line are Laura Marcos and Lucía Adrados, 20 and 21. They also attribute Swift’s success — she was the most listened-to artist in 2023 on iTunes and Spotify — to how people can interpret what her songs say: “The meaning of her songs is like a poem. She has a song for anyone, for the ex, the boyfriend, the friend.”

A fan has been lining up since Monday to enter Taylor Swift's first concert at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
A fan has been lining up since Monday to enter Taylor Swift's first concert at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.Álvaro García

Around 130,000 people will attend the concerts at the Bernabeú between Wednesday and Thursday. About half are from outside Madrid and 22% are coming from outside Spain. Included in this latter group are Grace Chainer and her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who have arrived from Manchester. “She is a girl who has many values,” says the mother, who shares her daughter’s fervor. Mar Zaitonn has come from Iceland with her daughter. They will also go to the July concert in Milan: “I think she receives all this love because she respects her fans a lot.”

Swifties, as the artist’s followers are called, see their heroine as a humble, simple person, with a “vibe that transmits something to you.” So think Cristina Mainsfield, 34, and Xaira Apada, 27, from the Netherlands, and Lluvia López, 13, who arrived on Sunday from Málaga with her mother. The Madrid Hotel Business Association (AEHM) estimates that hotel revenue on Wednesday and Thursday nights will be close to €20 million ($21.7 million), with average rates that could triple or quadruple normal prices.

Backpacks and plastic chairs to withstand the wait.
Backpacks and plastic chairs to withstand the wait. Álvaro García

A few streets further north of the stadium, the first fans have started to line up for Wednesday’s concert. About 10 people are at the entrance to the VIP area and another five, about 200 meters further, for the floor sector. With their sun loungers, travel backpacks and snacks, they have become a kind of celebrity in themselves, with reporters lining up to interview them. Some are already tired of the attention and do not want to talk anymore. This is not the case of Alejandro Cantillo, 22: “I am fulfilling a dream. Her music is a diary of life.” He has been here since Monday, and tonight he is waiting for a friend to take over so he can return on Wednesday with an outfit that he has sewn himself, another ritual among the Swifties.

Maggie Santander, 26, says she was the first to arrive. She has been lining up “very early” since Monday. “I have to be in front, I’m short, I’m 1m57cm.” Organizers have placed her under a tree that provides shade and protection from the 28ºC (82.4ºF)weather at noon. She says she is taking it “calmly” and that it will not be the last time she does this. “I’ve been spending time making bracelets and giving interviews.”

With The Eras Tour, Taylor Swift has been traveling for 14 months through 20 countries on four continents in a tour that has raised more than $1 billion, according to Pollstar. In April, she released her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, which has become the best-selling album of the decade.

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