Fair warning: this blog is going to be extremely long, but I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are a Taylor Swift fanatic, and will thus be thankful for all of the details.
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve written a Taylor-inspired blog. The Red era wasn’t as crazy for me as Fearless and Speak Now. I graduated college, got my own apartment, started being a grown up, and for whatever reason, fate seemed to have forced Taylor and I into a goodbye of sorts. I still saw the Red show twice. I still bought the album and the t-shirt and I continued to follow an abnormal amount of Taylor blogs, but the “Taylor Swift thing” (as those close to me refer to it as) became more of an admiration and less of an obsession. Growing up will do that I guess.
HOW THEY PICKED ME:
On June 16th, I got an email that spiraled me so deeply back into the fanaticism I once knew. It read as follows:
We are Taylor Nation and we found your information because you are either a member of Taylor Connect, signed up for the email newsletter, or are an active Taylor Swift fan on your social media channels.
We would like to speak with you regarding a special exclusive opportunity.”
The email went on to list a few more specifics and then requested that I reply with my phone number. Naturally, my heart began beating erratically, and I experienced once again that wonderful, panicky excitement that only Taylor Swift has the power to incite. You all know what I’m talking about.
Now, at this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “WHY? Why her and not me? She’s not as big a fan! Why did she get this opportunity?” I’m here to tell you that I honestly haven’t the faintest clue. No idea how they found me or deemed me worthy. Maybe it’s because I live in LA, or maybe it’s because I’ve been a member of Taylor Connect for quite some time. Maybe both. Who on earth knows? All I know is that on June 16th, the Taylor Swift gods were smiling upon me. And I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.
I replied to the email in a record-breaking amount of time, and received a phone call later that night. The voices on the other end confirmed that it was actually Taylor Nation, and that I was invited to be a part of a “special fan experience.” I had no idea what this fan experience would consist of; they wouldn’t tell me. Although, I strongly believed that it was going to be participation in a “release party” of sorts like she had when she released WANEGBT. But I had no clue. All I knew is that I had to reserve a few days the following week in order to participate. Obviously, I scrambled to arrange my schedule as soon as I hung up the phone, which was not easy considering I have a full time job. But, they could have told me that I would have to sacrifice my first-born child, and I probably would have agreed.
On the phone call, they also asked if I was available the next morning to come to a casting session. Again, no idea what I was being “casted” for, but I cleared my schedule for the following day, and attended.
I should also mention, at this point, the non-disclosure agreement they had me sign. It basically told me to keep my mouth shut about everything or that they would murder me in my sleep. Something like that. I happily signed and brought it with me.
Upon arrival at the casting session, I saw a sign that said “MUSIC VIDEO.” I had no confirmation that it was, in fact, a music video, but as the day went on, it became abundantly clear that that’s exactly what it was. The room was filled with the most beautiful and interesting people living in the city of Los Angeles. To say I stuck out like a sore thumb would be the understatement of the century. Half of me wanted to turn around and run away when I saw how pretty and perfect they all were, but this is Taylor Swift, and so, obviously I put on my big-girl panties and sat down amongst the goddesses.
I waited for probably 20 minutes before they called my name, and brought me and this other girl into a separate room. They then explained that they would film the two of us dancing and requested us to be as goofy and free as we could. I don’t know if they knew that dancing like a fool is probably my only life skill, but when that camera turned on, I gave it everything I had. I’d actually really like to see that audition tape, because I’m sure it has the makings of a viral video.
Anyway, so after the tell-tale “MUSIC VIDEO” sign and after the request to dance foolishly in front of a camera, I had my answer. I was going to be in a Taylor Swift music video. Naturally, I died a fangirl death. I’m lucky to be sitting here today, able to type this blog in a coherent manner.
Long story short (ha, who am I kidding, I’ve already written like, a thousand words), a week later, I arrived at the super-secret location to film a music video with TAYLOR ALISON SWIFT WHAT THE HELL IS MY LIFE. Phew. Okay, sorry I thought I was going to be able to contain the caps.
When we first arrived, we all had to wait in line outside of the studio for probably half an hour while they checked everyone in. There were probably about 75 of us, total, if I had to guess. Half fangirls, half regular extras (Hence, the “actor” people at the audition).
Finally, after a nervous, panicky period of time, the check-in process was complete. All bags checked for weapons and cellphones, photos taken, ID’s verified. Then, they brought all of us into this enormous sound stage, where they had crafty, makeup, and several chairs set up. They gave us all giant packets full of paperwork, which again, basically said, “hey, if you tell anyone about this music video before it’s released, we’ll set your house on fire.” We all signed, and then waited around some more.
Only some people (myself included) went into makeup. I’ll try and assume that it’s because I wore really light makeup that day and not because I’m ugly and needed a lot of work. We also had to go through this somewhat tedious wardrobe process. In the email, they asked us to bring 4 or 5 outfit choices, and then once we got there, they walked through and picked our brightest, loudest, and most colorful options. They also gave like, 25 or so people Taylor Swift Keds to wear, that they then got to keep, and I’ll try not to be bitter about the fact that I wasn’t one of them.
So yes, this whole paperwork, makeup, wardrobe process probably took about an hour and half. There were 75 of us, so naturally it took a while. And then they schlepped us over to this other, equally enormous sound stage, which was set up with a beautiful, plexi-glass white stage, set against a white background. Lots of white. They then broke us up into three groups of about 25 and we waited near this celestial, glorious, white stage for probably about another 30 minutes. And then. Without warning. She arrived.
LITERALLY. They didn’t even say, like, “Oh, Taylor will be here in 5 minutes,” or “by the way, the object of your six year affection will soon be standing five feet away from you.” No. No warning. One moment, I was casually chatting with some of the other girls, the next, I heard that oh-so-familiar voice behind me saying “Heeey guys!”
I whipped around, and the flawless, blonde human that is Taylor Swift was standing right in front of me. Like she always does, she introduced herself to the group of us, which, no matter how many times I witness her do this, continues to baffle me. Introductions are for people whose name you DON’T know. Like, Taylor, I don’t know if you know this, but you are an international superstar. You know full well that we are a group of some of your biggest fans in the world, yet you have the humility to tell us that your name is Taylor, as if this is new information to us. This chick.
So, after her, humble, adorable introduction, she huddles us up into a circle, and starts to tell us the concept of the entire music video, which, again, baffles me. We are extras. We are going to appear in approximately 6 seconds of the video. We are sub-human in comparison to your perfection, yet you find it important to take the time to explain to us the concept of your multi-million dollar music video. The way this girl treats her fans is UNPARALLELED and anyone who says differently can jump off of a roof.
So yes, she spoke with us as a group for about five minutes and told us how excited she was about her new single, and how special this album is to her, and how important it was to her that we keep it a secret. Naturally, she didn’t want anyone to find out about the new song before it was released. She also did the cutest, “Place your hand over your heart and repeat after me” speech, making us promise that we wouldn’t tell anyone the secrets of the music video until it was released. Which, come on, after that cuteness, what human could find it in their hearts to do so?
Also, Ed Sheeran’s new album was playing the entire time we weren’t rolling, and she shamelessly plugged it, asking all of us to “BUY not steal it, because we don’t steal albums, right?” After hearing her say that, I made an internal vow to never illegally download music as long as I live.
So yes, after this, they brought the first group on stage, and Taylor came up to sort of discuss what we’d all be doing. The director role she took was amazing, and made me have so much more respect for her as a professional (as if that were possible). Throughout the day, she took the time to explain to us what was and wasn’t working, to offer tips, and it was so clear that she has such an integral part in every thing she releases. That music video was her baby. Not some creation of some exec in a studio somewhere.
Can I also mention that she took the time to individually introduce herself to each one of us separately and to thank us for being there? I had already met her previously, so this was round two, but the six seconds we shared was just as amazing and wonderful as the six seconds we shared two years ago. I am also the fan who gave her the cat shirt she Instagrammed forever ago. And I really wanted to bring it up to her, but I was afraid that might be douchey, so I just shook her hand and introduced myself. Kept it cordial. She was a busy bee that day and I didn’t want to be the “annoying” fan.
However, the people that were placed closer to the center of the line (refer to the video) got the chance to chat a lot more with Taylor. I just stood in awe, watching her tell people how amazing they were at dancing, asking them to try something else, or do more of a certain type of move. It was absolutely magical just being able to witness her interacting with people. I know it sounds strange, but it was literally fascinating.
So, yeah, you’ve all seen the music video, I don’t have to tell you what the actual shoot consisted of. But I will share a few more Taylor moments with you, in no particular order.
Even though I knew, subconsciously, that I was going to be hearing new music that day, it really didn’t register until I heard “3, 2, 1 ACTION” that I was about to hear her new single. Literally, my first listen of the song was spent 10 feet away from the flawless being who wrote it, watching her dance with 25 people just like me, seeing her sing along with the words, and frolic around the stage with reckless abandon. It was nothing short of a religious moment. I am not exaggerating when I say that I choked back a few tears. The song is PERFECT and wonderful and hearing it for the first time like that is something I’ll never forget.
At one point during the shoot, she encouraged all of us to engage with her while she danced by, and to not be afraid to dance with her, instead of just next to her. And well, I obviously took her up on that offer. During one of the takes, she danced over towards me, and in the most natural of all possible ways, the two of us started dancing together, sort of, in a back-and-forth shimmy kind of thing, and it lasted for about 10 seconds. I literally spent 10 seconds of my life dancing one-on-one with Taylor Swift to one of her songs, and I don’t know if any other moment in my life will be able to live up to that. It went something like this:
“Oh, she’s coming towards me. Oh my God, she’s right next to me. Wait, do something! Dance with her! Okay yeah, we’re dancing. WE’RE DANCING, WE’RE DANCING TOGETHER, WHAT IS HAPPENING, DO I LOOK STUPID, ARE THEY FILMING US? I AM DANCING WITH TAYLOR SWIFT, GUYS, DO YOU SEE, THE TWO OF US ARE DANCING, SEND HELP! Oh okay, she’s moving away now, okay, I’m okay, breathe, it’s gonna be okay.”
Yeah, something like that.
Also, surprisingly, at the end of the shoot, after Taylor left, I found out that Mama Swift had been there the whole time! I love her. She spent about five or so minutes telling us all how great we were and thanking us for being such big fans, and for being there for Taylor all this time, and thanking us in advance for not sharing any information with the public. Then she told us that Taylor’s management is going to send us some free merch once the album releases. As if the entire experience weren’t enough, they are going to thank us even further by sending us a free box of merch. OKAY. COOL. WHAT.
I wish I remembered every moment clearly. I wish that I had a video camera with me, if only for my own purposes, to record a few moments of that fateful day. But, alas, as is often the case, memories are all I have. I wish that I could share even more details with all of you, but these are the things that stuck out to me and that I remember most. Keep in mind as well, we were there for about four hours, only one of which was spent with Taylor.
But even though I only spent an hour in the presence of the Blonde with the sparkly guitar, I walked away, as I always do when leaving her presence, realizing all over again why I will always love her. Of course, she’s a talented musician; we all know that. She writes hits that will play in my head as long as I live and will likely always be relevant to my life. She’s a smart businesswoman, she takes control of her own career, and she doesn’t let anyone or any precedents stand in her way.
But this is only a small fraction of the reason I love Taylor Swift. I’ve had the privilege and honor to meet her twice, and because of award shows and TV appearances and other crazy opportunities I’ve had, I’ve been able to be around her probably a dozen times. And every time, she never falters. Ever. She always has a smile on her face, she’s always focused and interested in whomever she’s talking to. She never acts like a diva, never plays into her fame or stature. Always friendly. Always engaging. Always humble.
She treats people (ESPECIALLY fans) with the utmost respect, and this is why our girl Tay will always be relevant. There may come a time when she doesn’t make music as often as she does now, or go on tour, and even if she fades away into history, people will always remember her (or should) for the type of person she is. And that she has earned every honor, every last penny, by the sweat of her brow and good, old fashioned hard work and treating people nice. That is the secret to success, and boy has she cracked it.By the way, if ya wanna say hey, hit me up on Twitter ;) @therealdee42
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m the girl in the blue polka dots at 3:19 that she was dancing with ;)
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