Teenage girl draped in friendship bracelets could almost make me a Taylor Swift fan

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
Sophia Ribeiro, 13, from West London, travelled all the way to South London's The Black Dog for a Taylor Swift adventure -Credit:Supplied

Since the release of Taylor Swift’s hotly anticipated double album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’, The Black Dog has since become a pilgrimage site for fans. Located in Vauxhall, London, just south of the River Thames, the pub has welcomed a flurry of visitors over the past weeks, all wanting to get a glimpse of the famed establishment.

Having dedicated an entire song on her album to the pub, fans have been dying to know why The Black Dog had such a profound impact on the singer - and its ties to her relationship with ex-boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn. Even though two weeks have passed since its rise to fame - quickly becoming the city’s most searched landmark - Swifties continue to make the journey to this quiet corner of London.

Sophia Ribeiro, 13, travelled all the way from Ruislip, West London, with her mum Fahran, and her friend Niamh and her family, to see what all the fuss was about. They weren’t the only ones, with a revolving door of Swifties pitching up for photoshoots outside the pub’s doors.

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Sophia said: “We thought there would be loads of Swifties here and I guess we were right.” No less than ten people were sitting at The Black Dog’s benches, discussing their favourite singer with new-found friends.

But for Sophia, it’s more than just Taylor's words which resonate with her. She struggled to choose a favourite song of the singer’s extensive collection, but determined her favourite album was Folklore.

Sophia said: “She has really good morals, like so feminist and fighting for the right things. On her recent album she has a song called ‘But Daddy I Love Him’ and it’s about people saying what’s best for her. But really, 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.”

Fahran revealed the family are now all Swifties thanks to Sophia’s influence. When asked how she felt hearing her daughter talk about Taylor, she was delighted.

Fahran said: “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.”

The teen’s arms were laden with Taylor Swift friendship bracelets, all made by her hand, with too many to count. Sophia kindly offered one up for me, with one of Taylor's most iconic songs ‘Love Story’ written in beads.

Taylor Swift The Black Dog pub review
Sophia has handmaking her own Taylor Swift friendship bracelets - and doesn't plan to stop -Credit:Supplied

Niamh’s mum, who’s accompanying the girls to Taylor's show at Wembley Stadium in August, admitted she’s still swotting up on her knowledge before the concert, with a few more albums to listen to. She joked: “I’m sorry I’m old, but 1989 is still my favourite album.”

The girls revealed that despite only having tickets to one gig, they plan on venturing to Wembley Stadium to stand outside and cheer their icon on. They’ve thought of everything, the details of their outfits inspired by the lyrics of ‘Don’t Blame Me’ - “I once was poison ivy, but now I'm your daisy” - to the sleepover debrief to discuss the concert.

So why should people love Taylor Swift? “The thing is, she doesn’t do anything bad,” Sophia explained. “She fights for what’s right, and she fights for feminism. She fights for the good stuff.”

The teen continued: “Even with the whole Kanye West thing, she didn’t shame Kanye West in any way.”

Niamh’s mum agreed, praising Taylor for not ‘lowering herself' to his level. Sophia referred to the public fallout between Swift and US rapper, who was previously married to reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian.

Kanye interrupted Taylor on stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards where the 19-year-old singer won the award for the Best Female Video for ‘You Belong With Me’. Hurrying to the microphone, Kanye said: “I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!”

The rapper later referenced Swift in his 2016 ‘Famous’. In an interview with TIME Magazine, where she was named the publication’s Person of the Year 2023, Taylor commented on the bad blood between them. She also described the fallout of Kanye West’s lyrics about her in his 2016 song Famous, which include: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, why? I made that b**** famous."

Fans also believed she referenced Kim Kardashian in her new song 'thanK you aIMee', which seemingly singles out Kim in capital letters. But Sophia disagrees with any negative connotation to the reference.

“Yeah, but then she said ‘thank you, Aimee’ for the person you made me. So she’s thanking her for building her character.”

My trip The Black Dog turned 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 pub 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.

The European leg of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour kicks off in Paris, France, on Thursday, May 9. She has fifteen dates scheduled for the UK, starting at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Friday, June 7, having added an extra five dates in August at Wembley Stadium.