Tailgaters gather for the final night of Taylor Swift’s weekend in Chicago

By Patience Hurston, Copy Editor

The final night of Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” stay at Soldier Field brought newcomers and returning fans together to catch the enchantment of Taylor Swift’s last night in the Windy City — and the lawn outside the stadium saw quite the crowd.

The phenomenon known as “Tayl-gate” has become an alternative for fans who either could not afford a ticket or were not able to score tickets after being shut out of Ticketmaster sales.

Many fans took to social media, like TikTok and Facebook groups, to spread tips and tricks on how to hear the concert the best from the lawn; some tips considered wind patterns for finding a spot, in some cases even finding a way to see the jumbotron.

Laici Allen, a recent high school graduate, was inside the arena by herself on Friday, June 2 — night one of Swift’s three-day Chicago shows — but brought her friends along to tailgate the final night to experience it all again.

“It’s been very sweet. There’s no bad people, no bad vibes. People have even dressed up and they’re not even going [inside],” Allen said.

From cowboy boots and prom dresses to black leotards and bejeweled make-up, Swift fans of all ages took their looks seriously — in fashion with the retrospective nature of Swift’s tour, some fans dressed as past versions of Swift’s style.

Allen brought along her friend Lee Wodarz, and while not a “huge fan” of Swift, they found the fan interactions outside the arena to be the best part.

“Everyone out here is so wholesome. I think seeing that everyone has community is cool. Everything has been adorable,” Wodarz said.

Sunday was the last night to grab concert merchandise and trade the coveted friendship bracelet — a nod to Swift’s “You’re On Your Own, Kid” — and fans were happier than ever to interact with one another. Singing, dancing and cheering along, tailgaters were just a fraction of the more than 190,000 people who attended the concert over the weekend.

Amanda Barr, a retail worker and graduate student, did not have time to make friendship bracelets but enjoyed watching younger fans find one another.

“The vibe is fun. I love the variety of people out here and seeing all the kids with their parents and their lawn chairs asking for bracelets,” Barr said.

Barr’s coworker, Hannah Sponenburg, came on a whim, and while a more casual listener of Swift they felt that being able to listen from outside was a great opportunity for young fans to still experience the tour.

“We were kids when [her music] started coming out so I can’t imagine what it’s like to be fully a child right now and what your impression of Taylor Swift is, but they’re just out here running around and trading bracelets,” Sponenburg said. “It’s so cute.”