Before Taylor Swift’s US Eras tour came to a close, fans had travelled all across the country to see her in her element. However, prior to making their way to the jam-packed stadiums, Swifties have spent hours working on one key element of the concerts: Friendship bracelets.
Long before Swift’s concert tickets went on sale, fans were already gearing up for the event, with Ticketmaster shutting down entirely due to the overwhelming number of people buying tickets in November. After a brief hiatus, the Eras Tour will continue on 24 August with the start of Swift’s International Tour, which will last until the end of 2024. She’ll also be making a few stops in the US and Canada next year, with shows ranging from 18 October to 23 November 2024.
However, if you’re a fellow Swiftie like me, the ongoing anticipation surrounding the Eras tour is no surprise, since this is Swift’s first tour since 2018.
Ahead of the official start of the US tour on 16 March 2023 in Glendale, Arizona, and as a testament to their love for Taylor and her community of Swifties, the singer’s fans began to make friendship bracelets.
The trend ties back to the Swift song “You’re On Your Own, Kid” from the singer’s 2022 album, Midnights. In the beloved bridge of the tune, the lyrics read: “Everything you lose is a step you take / So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it.” Swifties took the Grammy Award winner’s advice literally, with friendship bracelets becoming a staple of the Eras tour.
While there is no concrete rule for what these bracelets should look like, fans typically opt for ceramic, lettered or coloured beads when crafting them. On par with the trend, the bracelets usually feature references to Swift’s albums. For example, when I attended an Eras tour concert in Nashville, Tennessee in May, I made a bracelet that read “Begin Again,” a reference to the title of a song off Swift’s album, Red. The letters were surrounded by bright red and maroon-coloured beads to fit the theme of the album. The bracelet-making activity, which brings up memories of camp, was so enjoyable that I also arrived at the concert with bracelets that read “Cornelia Street,” “Love Story,” and “Midnight Rain” in tow.
As for what you’re meant to do with the bracelets, fans have taken to social media to encourage others to trade the beaded accessories.
Gaby, who goes by the username @gabydeimeke on TikTok, shared a video from the concert she attended at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in April. As she stood on the floor of the stadium, she documented a group of Swifties who were looking through a jumble of friendship bracelets held inside clear plastic bags. The strangers then proceeded to exchange some laughs, before deciding which bracelets they’d take to wear on their wrists. The clip ended with Gaby showcasing her own pile of bracelets she’d taken home that night.
Multiple celebrities have hopped on the trend trend as well. When Jennifer Lawrence was spotted at the VIP section of an Eras tour concert in Philadelphia, she didn’t hesitate to wave and smile at fans. While in her section, fans reached their arms towards Lawrence and handed her bracelets, which she happily accepted and placed around her wrist. Fans also tweeted photos of Nicole Kidman putting a friendship bracelet of her own on when she attended a Philadelphia concert with her husband, Keith Urban.
In addition, the star of the show herself has taken part in the viral trend. During every concert, one lucky fan has the opportunity to stand in front of the stage as Swift gives them her black hat while singing the tune “22”. During her show in Arlington, her best friend Selena Gomez’s little sister, Gracie, had this chance. And of course, when Swift gave her the hat, Gracie gave her something in return: a friendship bracelet.
Despite how much Swifties are loving the bracelet-trading trend, they aren’t the ones who originated the idea. On TikTok, a woman named Liz, @blushliz, explained in a March video how she’d made her Eras tour friendship bracelets with fabric string instead of plastic string. After going viral, she acknowledged that the craft ties back to trading “Kandi,” which refers to the colourful, beaded, bracelets that concert-goers exchange at EDM concerts and raves.
Jennifer Lawrence receiving bracelets from Taylor Swift fans 🥺 ❤️
(Video 1) pic.twitter.com/MU9yGA1ibi
— ~ Lu ~ (@todoxjlaw) May 15, 2023
“The EDM community has been doing this forever,” Liz explained in her follow-up video. “So I feel like the Swifties, we’re getting a lot of credit for coming up with this idea right now. We didn’t come up with this idea. But, isn’t it cool to think that opposite ends of the spectrum have crafting, and this is something in common that we can all get excited about together.”
According to EDM Identity, a site is dedicated to electric dance and music culture across the country, trading bracelets is to show PLURR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect, and Responsibility) at raves. In addition, ravers often embody the concept with handshakes before trading “Kandi”. Typically, the trading is done to help ravers form a connection with one another, or to solidify a newly formed connection.
When it came to bracelet trading at the Eras tour, I was mostly on the lookout for a younger concert-goer, as I was desperate to give away the “Begin Again” bracelet that I’d accidentally made too small. Luckily, I identified the perfect guest before the music had even begun, and for that brief, five-minute period of time my friends and I spent with her family, we were all besties.
The trend continued as the night went on. A concert-goer who appeared to be in her 20s gave me a black and green bracelet with beads that spelled out “ivy,” which is the title of a song from Swift’s 2020 album, Evermore. The entire interaction probably lasted 30 seconds, but we still managed to exchange numerous compliments about each other’s outfits in that time.
To my surprise, trading bracelets also led to a 45-minute conversation with another stranger, a mother from the East Coast who I found myself next to on the never-ending line for Eras tour merch. We both went off on tangents about travelling to Tennessee and the hell we went through buying tickets to the concert.
We went our separate ways when the line finally ended, at which point I walked away with a new prized posession, the “Getaway Car” bracelet that she’d given me, which was made by her daughter.
Although I’ll likely never cross paths with these Swifties again, for a five-hour moment in time, Taylor Swift and her community of fans managed to turn an overcrowded space of thousands of strangers into the best of friends.