BEIJING, Feb 11 — Waving glow sticks, and wearing sequin dresses and friendship bracelets, Chinese fans of American pop sensation Taylor Swift turn a normally-quiet Beijing cinema into a raucous celebration of their favourite singer.
The 14-time Grammy winner this month kicks off the Asia-Pacific leg of her “Eras” world tour with dates in Japan, Australia and, in March, Singapore.
She won’t, however, be stopping off in China, where she has a devoted fan base.
“She might have more fans in China than all her followers on Instagram,” 31-year-old auto industry worker and superfan Flora Sun told AFP.
A bold claim — Swift has 280 million followers on Instagram.
But the devotion is definitely intense, and fans hope that by packing out cinemas with wild watch parties for her concert film, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour”, they can convince her to come perform.
“Today is the eighth time I have seen the film,” 28-year-old educator Qi Yi told AFP at a recent watch party in the Chinese capital.
Wearing a silver sequin dress resembling one of Swift’s concert outfits and holding a silver microphone, Qi said she was “really happy” the film was being shown in China.
Fans know every song by heart, belting out the lyrics word for word. Many have the number 13 — Swift’s lucky number — in temporary tattoos on their hands.
There are in-jokes aplenty: references to Swift’s public spats with mercurial rapper Kanye West and even a special “Eras” currency.
“I go to the cinema every weekend to watch it,” said 25-year-old Mu Guangyuan, dressed in a purple-and-black graduation robe mimicking one Swift wore when she received an honorary degree in 2022.
He and his friends held papers proving their status as graduates of Taylor Swift University — with a degree in “Doctor of Swiftie”.
Mu told AFP he’s been a fan for 15 years — and that he is going to Singapore to see her next month.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing her,” he said.
“I also really hope that she can come to China and meet us Chinese fans.”
More than 1.8 million movie tickets have been sold since the concert film’s release in December — making it the highest-grossing music documentary in China with 93 million yuan (RM61.8 million) in earnings.
Fans said they would see every one of her gigs if she made it to China.
“Be it Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou or Shenzhen — wherever Taylor Swift holds her concert, I will go and watch every one of them,” one 22-year-old fan said.
Not everyone is so optimistic that she will come to China.
Jess Wang, a megafan who has seen Swift perform in the United States, said she believed that authorities would disapprove of the American superstar’s progressive politics.
Her open support for LGBTQ causes, her decision to work with dancers who do not conform to traditional gender roles and “revealing” — by Chinese standards — clothing could all land her in Beijing’s bad books, Wang argued.
“I don’t think Taylor Swift’s team would risk censoring (those things) just to get the approval.”
And for her fans, that message of openness and good vibes is what they love about her in the first place.
“Taylor Swift gives me positive energy, which helps me to work hard”, student Liu Jingyi said.
“She gives me a lot of strength.” — AFP