On May 31, Florencia Romeo slept in a tent outside Argentina’s largest stadium with her girlfriend and her sister. They had heard that Taylor Swift was coming to Buenos Aires and wanted to be first in line.
The rumors were right: Mrs. Swift would arrive, but it would take time. Her concert was more than five months away.
The tent remained however, occupied by a rotating cast of 30 die-hard Swifties who worked together for 163 days to keep their places in line for the chance to get as close as possible to their idol when she took the stage Thursday in the premiere stop on his Eras Tour outside of North America.
“We’ve been waiting for this for many years,” said Ms. Romeo, 23, who quit her job as a cashier in part to devote herself to waiting in line. “We didn’t expect it to come, and then it happened. So it was obvious that we had to do what we had to do.”
Ms. Swift’s Eras Tour officially went global on Thursday as the pop megastar began a new phase of shows that would take her to 25 cities in South America, Asia, Australia and Europe over the next 10 months.
Since March, the North American leg of the tour has become an economic marvel and a cultural force, cementing Ms. Swift’s status as one of the most influential and beloved people on the continent. She is now ready to prove that her fame and her adoration go far beyond borders.
There are few countries better than Argentina for showcasing the intense passion of its fans. While Ms. Swift has become a certified global icon, Argentina has become known for worshiping icons with religious fervor.
Consider that Juan and Eva Perón became president and first lady of Argentina in 1946, but they are still celebrated in political songs, are displayed in portraits in many Argentine homes, and are the inspiration for a political movement of the same name that still rules the country. Diego Maradona, the soccer star, has become seen as such a deity here that tens of thousands of Argentines belong to, yes, Maradona’s Church, a legally recognized religion now in its 25th year. And after Lionel Messi and the national soccer team won the World Cup last year, the crush of four million adoring fans at the victory parade forced the players to abandon their buses and fly by helicopter instead.
“She’s like the female Messi,” Ms. Romeo said, offering Ms. Swift the highest praise an Argentine can these days. Some fans in Buenos Aires this week wore national soccer team jerseys with “SWIFT” written on the back, while others handed out a prayer card of sorts with Ms. Swift’s head superimposed on that of Jesus Christ.
So it was no surprise that Ms. Swift’s arrival in Argentina became a national event. It received intense news coverage; Buenos Aires named her official guest of honor; her and has become a figure in next week’s presidential election after some of her fans organized against the far-right candidate, Javier Milei. Meteorologists even described forecasts of sun or rain this weekend as “Dry Swifties” or “Wet Swifties.” (Friday called for “Wet Swifties,” so organizers rescheduled the show for Sunday.)
“Everyone in the country knows her, and everyone knows this show,” Renata Schyfys, 15, said at the show Thursday, wearing at least six inches of friendship bracelets, which have become a badge of Swiftie fandom.
In a country of 46 million people, Swift sold approximately 200,000 tickets for three sold-out shows, yet the waiting list still numbered more than 2.8 million people, enough to fill Argentina’s largest soccer arena , El Monumental, another 40 times.
The stadium shook Thursday night with near-constant, ear-piercing screams coming from the more than 70,000 fans in attendance repeatedly chanting, “Olé, olé, olé, olé, Taylor, Taylor.”
Even Ms. Swift, who has seen her share of large crowds, seemed surprised. “I’m looking for what could be one of the most epic crowds ever,” she told the audience. “This is on another level.”
Later, she took off her earphones and signaled that she was struggling to hear over the roar of the crowd. She paused for a full two minutes, soaking in the adoration of her fans.
“I don’t know how to thank you enough for the way you treat me tonight,” he said. “I love you so much and I can’t believe it took me this long to come see you.”
Thursday’s show was Ms. Swift’s first major concert in South America, the first of nine this month in Argentina and Brazil. After waiting so long, many Swifties said Thursday they had made some sort of pilgrimage, many from across the continent.
Nahuel Ochoa, a medical student wearing a dazzling homemade jumpsuit and sparkly jacket, had taken a bus with 50 other fans from the city of San Luis, 12 hours away. Unable to find a room in Buenos Aires, where hotels were nearly sold out, he planned to take the bus back after the show—and then return on Saturday to see Ms. Swift again.
“We’ve loved Taylor since we were 10 years old — we’ve been waiting 13 years,” said Mr. Ochoa, 23, sitting next to his childhood friend Andrea Garro. “His songs reflect most of what we experience. It’s a form of expressing ourselves in a way we can’t.”
Ms. Garro, 23, a law student, added that Ms. Swift’s music helped her overcome a deep depression. “We feel seen,” she said.
But there was no greater display of devotion than that of the more than 100 fans who took turns camping outside the stadium for months. After Ms. Romeo and her friends spotted their spot and attracted local news attention, more tents followed.
The group, made up mostly of young women, organized shifts using a spreadsheet, ideally with at least two people present in the tent at all times. The 30 members of Mrs. Romeo’s tent were required to spend a minimum of 40 hours there per month, with each member spending an average of 10 to 12 nights in the tent. After spending the first few days sleeping with only blankets, they added a mattress.
“She has the best relationship with her fans and is the one who can achieve this kind of mania,” said Lucas Forte, 24, a member of another tent who had slept outside the stadium for five nights since September. “No one camped for the Weeknd, for example.”
Ms. Swift herself was impressed by the effort. “I heard you were camping to find a good spot?” she asked the crowd Thursday. “I actually didn’t believe it until I saw a video.”
Fans camped out had nowhere to get tickets to the show. They were all sold online. Rather, tents were set up so you could be first in line when the show doors opened and fans could run to the guardrails along the stage for a closer view.
Event organizers helped ensure that fans who camped out were first in line, but many still ended up behind lines of people whose reduced-price tickets had let them in even earlier.
But some campers eventually reached the barricade along the stage.
“I broke my knee trying to get there,” Atenas Astuni, 23, a member of the tent’s front row, said, his voice hoarse on the Friday morning after the show. “But if I had to shatter my knee again to repeat exactly what happened yesterday, I would do it without hesitation.”