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CULTURE | 10-11-2023 01:11

Politics the opening act as Taylor Swift kicks off run of shows in Argentina

US pop star Taylor Swift played the first of three concerts in Buenos Aires on Thursday, granting Argentines a momentary respite from the drama of next week's presidential run-off.

Posters reading “Swiftie no vota a Milei” adorn the walls in and around River Plate’s Monumental Stadium, where US pop star Taylor Swift played the first of three concerts in Buenos Aires on Thursday, a stark reminder of Argentina's polarisation just a week before the presidential run-off.

On a sunny spring day, thousands of young people have waited since dawn for the doors to open, singing and sharing their "friendship bracelets," the homemade creations that are part of ‘Swiftie culture.’ Many fans wore outfits alluding to the different eras of Swift's career – a nod to ‘The Eras Tour’ that Swift has brought to Buenos Aires.

Also in the crowd, the regular sight of an Argentina national football team shirt with the number 13 (Taylor's lucky number) and Swift's surname on the back. "I’ve betrayed Messi, just for a little while," laughs 21-year-old Sofia Ranui. 

"Argentina is all about politics and football and you can't separate the two. You realise when you see the posters of [presidential candidates Sergio]) Massa and [Javier] Milei, who take advantage of what's in fashion. Being so close to the elections, they're going to see where the spotlight is and they're going to sink their teeth into it," said the fan.

Days before the concert, a statement by a group of Swifties against Milei, the libertarian and far-right candidate who will compete against Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa in the presidential ballot on November 19, was published on the X (formerly Twitter) social network.

Milei "is the representative of the anti-democratic right who is coming to take away all our acquired rights," the group said in the account, which was later suspended without a reason being made public.

In the vicinity of the stadium there were mock 'The Eras Tour' posters featuring the figure of Massa in the place of Swift and bearing the legend "Massa: The presidential tour". Some of the posters reading "Swiftie no vota a Milei" had the word ‘No’ crossed out, reflecting Argentina's political polarisation. Others carried the hashtag #MileiesTrump (“Milei is Trump”).. 

"She's against Trump and everything Trump stands for, who is machista," said Miriam Monllau, a 31-year-old fan who stopped to photograph one of the posters.

"Taylor's ideas go against what Milei would be,” she added.


A song for every moment

Buenos Aires is the second stop on Swift's Latin American tour, after Mexico and before Brazil. Fans from Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and even Venezuela travelled to see her at the Monumental.

"It's incredible everything she does as an activist for women's rights, gay rights, children's rights. Her songs represent everything for us. If you are sad, if you lost someone, if you met someone, whether you are happy or sad, Taylor has a song for it," commented an enthusiastic Milena Nuñez, 23, who travelled from Montevideo to see her idol.

For the young women who camped outside the Monumental, in some cases for months, in order to get the best view point on the day of the concert, Thursday was the big day. Julieta Zavala, 24, began her wait on May 31, even before the concert dates were confirmed.

With a group of 30 others, she took rotating shifts to be at the front of the queue.

"They are with me, but I don't know their political ideology because that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the fact that we're going to see Taylor and we're going to have a good time," said the girl, moments before the gates opened.

After many days of political tension, Sofía Ranui said she was sure she would enjoy the show. 

"Maybe the country is not at its best, or never at its best. So we make bracelets, we don't think about the elections, we put on sparkles, we dress in pink, and we are with other kids and we feel very comfortable. Because then these three days are over and the cloud that always hangs over the Argentines comes back again.”

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by Tomás Viola


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