How Taylor Swift’s new works took over a London bookstore

3 Mins read

Waterstones brought The Tortured Poets Department to Swifties with its unique flair.

London has countless clubs organising launch parties and events to celebrate the release of The Tortured Poets Department, however, Waterstones’ in-house music shop, Gower Records carved out a space for Swifties looking for a calmer experience to share their love for the artist.

“Some people like being quiet,” says Noemie, one of the organisers from Waterstones in Gower Street. “They like being around other fans and not necessarily dancing around.”

Talking to Artefact about the concept of putting together a Taylor Swift evening at the bookshop, she says, “Music, especially this album, is hugely based around poetry so we thought people would want to meet in this environment.” 

A typewriter with the lyrics of So Long, London from Taylor Swift's latest album
A typewriter with the lyrics of So Long, London from Taylor Swift’s latest album [Ada Kohli]

In keeping with the aesthetic of The Tortured Poets Department, Alyanna and Calvin came in wearing Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour T-shirts along with their friend Andre.

“We were finding events to listen to Taylor’s new album, and we saw one here. We like this place, so we came,” says Calvin. Alyanna, a Taylor Swift enthusiast, got the two boys into listening to Swift’s music. “We three actually road-tripped and went to the first show of her Eras tour,” she says.

“We were in California and her show was in Arizona, so we drove like 13 hours. It’s a special memory the three of us always bond over, so we came here together.”

The evening was filled with conversations about the new album and people meeting other Swifties to share their love for the artist.

Alyanna and Calvin making friendship bracelets at Waterstones, London
Alyanna and Calvin making friendship bracelets at Waterstones, London [Ada Kohli]

“Can I just say, I am surprised by how many tracks are about Matty Healy in comparison to Joe Alwyn”, says Tash who declares herself to be one of the biggest Swifties. 

She woke up at 5:00am to listen to the album with her group of Taylor Swift fans on Discord. Tash came to Waterstones with a friend solely to be with other Swifties.

“I have been a fan of Taylor since I was 18. I am the same age as her so everything she went through, I went through at the exact same time as her.” Having grown up ‘alongside’ Swift, she says, “I discovered her from her first album and have been with her ever since.”

Keeping the vibe ‘all things Taylor’, the bookshop organised a bracelet making activity over drinks with the tracks of The Tortured Poets Department playing in the background.

Needless to say, the event turned out to be a huge hit. It is not news that Swift has made headlines for generating a virtual seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake, causing Ticketmaster to crash, and is also responsible for bringing back the friendship bracelet trend.

Fans on TikTok were seen making and swapping handmade bracelets that had names of their favourite songs or particular lyrics spelt out.

Friends helping each other making bracelets while listening to Taylor Swift's new album
Friends making bracelets while listening to Taylor Swift’s new album [Ada Kohli]

For those who love finding Swift’s ‘easter eggs’ (secret messages or clues hidden in her music), this trend actually surfaced from her song, You’re on Your Own, Kid from the Midnights album, with the lyrics, ‘So, make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it’.

The Swifties that met in Waterstones also spent time making and trading bracelets during the event.

“I saw an event in a bookstore for The Tortured Poets Department and I was like ‘Yeah, I have to go!’” says Rita who came with her two friends Brianna and Niho.

Labelling themselves diehard fans of the record-breaking musician Brianna says, “loml is my favourite song from this album as there is so much strategic writing to it. It’s so tragic but beautiful.” The titular acronym usually means “love of my life”, but towards the end of the song, Swift refers instead to the “loss of her life”.

Rita on the other hand rates But Daddy I Love Him as her top track. “I just like how honest she is being in this song. That resonated with me instantly.” 

As the chatter increased and other people started sharing their favourite songs, Noemie and Phoebe kicked off a ‘guess the song’ quiz where all participants were told to write their answers on a sheet of paper.

They were to guess the songs by listening to only the first five seconds, the songs played were from across all of Swift’s albums. You certainly don’t need a Buzzfeed quiz to tell you that you are among “true Swifties” when you see people scoring 15/15, and then going into tie-breaker rounds without needing to hear more than five seconds of a song.

Speaking to people about the criticism Taylor has received of her 11th album, including that it is “too long”, Tash, Brianna and other Swifties had just one thing to say, “It’s great news for us. More songs for us to listen to.”

Featured image by Ada Kohli

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