'I'm not a Taylor Swift fan - but I loved visiting The Black Dog pub she's written a song about'

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
Senior Content Creator Ellen headed to The Black Dog in Vauxhall, London, to see why Taylor Swift dedicated a whole song to it -Credit:Supplied


The Black Dog pub in London has become a pilgrimage site for Taylor Swift fans ever since her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department, came out. Otherwise known as Swifties, the Vauxhall pub has been attracting masses of supporters worldwide in wake of her newly released song, The Black Dog.

I can't say I'm a Swiftie, but It is fair to say that the unassuming watering hole perched on the edge of the calm, docile Vauxhall Leisure Gardens has found fame as Swift’s unofficial Mecca. Its rustic feel is miles apart from the glitzy members clubs you’d find most celebrities at.

But, The Black Dog has endured a wave of fans checking out the fated destination spotted on the singer’s own location services. Its infamy is still prevalent as I pull up for a pint two weeks after the drop of Swift’s surprise double album.

On the surface, The Black Dog looks like many of the other gentrified pubs of London town. Trust me, I’ve been to my fair share. But peeling back the surface, the Swifties can be found arriving in force.

Photoshoots can be seen taking place outside its doors for Instagram and video clips to mark each visitor’s adventure, the pub is relishing in the influx of new-found curiosity. Displayed neatly in the window reads a sign: “And so I watch as you walk into some bar called The Black Dog…”

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
The Black Dog was packed, still riding high from Taylor Swift's mega name drop -Credit:Supplied

Correction, Taylor, it’s a pub. A pub cashing in on its newfound fame by setting up an official merch site. Swifties can now even get the pub’s name emblazoned on a t-shirt, hoodie or sweatshirt, with a nod to Swift’s lyrics and ‘location services’.

I can imagine the singer's ex, Joe Alwyn, sipping on a pint of Black Dog Stout (£5.95) in the corner when no one knew his name. I can see the attraction for celebs who want to live a quiet, private existence, because no one would expect this sleepy corner of Vauxhall to be the social capital for fame.

Then all of a sudden, my tame bank holiday pint with a friend transformed into an unexpected education on Taylor Swift. I had been well and truly schooled.

Sophia and her friend Niamh made the journey all the way from the outskirts of West London to come and marvel at The Black Dog. Sophia’s arms were adorned with an infinite number of Taylor Swift friendship bracelets all handmade by her, which is what caught my attention.

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
Sophia Ribeiro, 13, from West London, said: 'I like that her songs are so feminist, and fighting for the right things' -Credit:Supplied

They weren’t the only ones, several of the pub’s benches and tables were occupied by Swifties, taking in all of what The Black Dog had to offer. Sophia detailed her extensive research into their outfits for Taylor’s run at Wembley Stadium in August; struggled to pick a favourite, because there’s just so many; and spoke so wonderfully about her idol.

So why does Sophia love Taylor Swift? “She has really good morals, I like that her songs are so feminist, and fighting for the right things,” she told me.

“In one of her recent albums, she has a song called ‘But Daddy I Love Him’, and it’s about people saying what’s best for her, but she can do what she wants. They say they want what’s best for her… but not really, because she has the right to do whatever she wants.”

With teenagers like these two in the world, we’ve got nothing to worry about. Taylor’s influence extends beyond the power of creating hit after hit record.

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
Sophia proudly showed off her extensive collection of friendship bracelets dedicated to the singer -Credit:Supplied

Fahran Ribeiro, Sophia’s mum, agreed: “I’m so glad she’s obsessed with Taylor Swift. If there’s one artist you should be obsessed with, that's the one I’m happy with. She’s the most wholesome artist out there, right? Really you couldn’t ask for a better role model for a young girl.”

Being a Swiftie means to be a part of an unofficial, uncodified sisterhood. These girls’ admiration has no bounds. Simply, they love Taylor, a pure and genuine love that fuels their belief in her as a person, beyond her ability as a songwriter.

If I was as eloquent as Sophia at the age of 13, I would’ve probably been a very different person. Just seeing Fahran’s face light up as her daughter spoke of the singer’s unashamedly feminist tracks was a joy.

So Taylor, if you happen to read this, there are two teens heading to your August Wembley Stadium show. They plan on standing outside your London gigs next month to catch a glimpse of their role model.

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
I guess this makes me an honorary Swiftie now? -Credit:Supplied

As a parting gift, Sophia gave me one of her friendship bracelets. Honestly, it’s one of the sweetest things someone has done for me in recent months. So thank you, Sophia, I’m truly honoured and will always cherish your generosity.

My trek to The Black Dog evolved into so much more than I expected. Taylor has introduced a whole new wave of patrons to its door, and hopefully those visits don’t stop any time soon.

The Black Dog is a wholesome and humble watering hole with a whole new ‘Reputation’, one which will follow them from years to come, no doubt. The Swifties brought a breath of fresh air to my visit, an excitable, wholesome and joyous breath at that.

It’s a space where old and new generations can enjoy the space side by side, relish in Taylor’s experience or quietly sip on a pint. Kudos to The Black Dog, you’ll have people’s tongues wagging forever.