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

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.
Ahh, so that’s it.
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.
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. 
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.”
I finished my beer and we parted ways. I continued to walk down Swan Street. By now, it is in full carnival atmosphere.
Pretty much every place that could pour a beer was doing Taylor Swift specials.
I went upstairs at Fargo and Co and spoke to these girls briefly about the Taylor Swift bottomless brunch and asked about the Taylor Swift cocktail. One of the staff overheard and offered to make me one for free.
Hey thanks, guy.
Beautiful.
Refreshed, I decided to get back on the tram. The city was buzzing now. Everyone was in full Taylor Mode. On the packed tram, a carriage-wide debate erupted about Taylor Swift’s flying habits. Some said they loved her but wished she wouldn’t, y’know, basically live on a private jet. Others said what choice did she have? You want her to sit in premium economy? Line up for security and wait five hours on a stopover in Doha on her way to Melbourne? C’mon, you know you wouldn’t do that, especially if you flew that often. 
I was simply enthralled, but I also had to get off. The free tram zone was ending and I wasn’t about to pay for transport. As I stepped off I found it funny thinking about crammed sweaty people going back and forth about a pop star’s flying habits. I wondered if Taylor had ever been on a tram – a real tram, with real people. I tried to put myself in either camp’s shoes – passionately pro Taylor private jet or passionately against – but I just couldn’t get myself to care. It’s not Taylor’s job to save the world. It’s all gonna burn anyway. I’d take a private jet to the toilet if I could.
At 6pm I met my girlfriend at Flinders, who’d join me for the remainder of this odyssey. The city too was full of Taylor drink specials.
We saw a bunch of people gathered around Fed Square to see someone who was not Taylor Swift, but they looked like they were enjoying it. 
With the sun beginning to lower, it was time to once again get on a tram, destined for the MCG.
The area around the stadium was full of street vendors selling Taylor merch.
I asked this guy how business was going. He told me it was good. I asked him why everyone was wearing cowboy hats and he told me they were for the football game down the road at AAMI Park. Based.
This guy looks like the dad of a kid I played soccer with when I was 12, I’m like 96% sure it wasn’t him… but the fact that it could’ve been him played on my mind more than it should’ve. I’m thinking about it now. Maybe I’ll never stop thinking about it.
Ha. nice. 
Computer enhance. Hell yeah. Let’s go join them.
By now, Taylor was on stage at the MCG, which was cool and all, but we were also hungry, so we grabbed some pizza – margherita because it’s Taylor’s favourite food, apparently.
This is my girlfriend enjoying the margherita. She doesn’t know I’m publishing this photo. Hi babe!
As the sun set we headed back to the MCG where fans who weren’t able to snag tickets were gathering by the thousands in an activity called ‘Taylor-gating’.
I think there was some margherita on my phone camera lens, but I like the effect.
I circled the stadium. The more I walked the more fans I saw. All of them were singing along to the songs which could be heard outside the stadium.
By now it was clear, Taylor Swift is a cult.
And I like it.
Look how much fun everyone was having. It was like grand final day but better and with less losers getting mad at the TV.
Not everyone was swept up though. 
Once you know the way broadly, you will see it in all things.
The fireworks seemed to signal the grand finale. The weaker Swifties were already getting on trams to the city.
The show was over but the vibe was still present. 
Tonight Melbourne is Taylor’s city.
We roamed around for a while more. Soon it was midnight, but the city was still alive with Swifties. 
By now it was technically the next day but the trams were still going and still displaying Taylor’s name. Imagine being so big the fucking tram network displays your name. Has that been done before? Don’t comment, I don’t actually care. It’s just wild to think about. No matter what you do the Melbourne tram network will never display your name as a destination. You’ll most likely be forgotten in two generations, that’s if you’re lucky. You, reading this, are basically nothing. 
Just kidding, I love you. I’m just tired. It’s been a long day. It’s time to wrap things up! This is usually the part where I tell you what I’ve learned, tie up the whole thing in a nice neat package and give you something to take away from this whole thing. 
But all I learned is that hating any of this is really sad. Tonight the city was full of happy kids and friendship bracelets and singalongs and just pure joy. Taylor Swift is fun, and if you hate Taylor – if you hate the Swiftie – maybe you just really hate fun. 
That, and I really want a private jet.
Follow David on Instagram and Twitter.

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