Music

Taylor Swift Performed On ‘SNL’, So I Lined Up For 48 Hours To See Her

"Let me assure you that, despite what I saw one person on Twitter say, no one in that line was wearing a diaper."

lining up to see Taylor Swift on SNL

A fortnight ago, I lined up for 48 hours in the pouring rain for a chance to see Taylor Swift on Saturday Night Live​. Pretty interesting life choices I’m making here, right?

I wish I could say this is the wildest thing I’ve done but, as a Professional Stan™, it probably only ranks top three. One time I flew from Australia to Texas for four days to see her perform a set at the Formula 1. I could only get a couple days off work, so we got there on Thursday night, saw her on Saturday, and left on Monday.

Last August I went to the Nashville Reputation concert date because I didn’t want to wait until her Sydney show three months later. I spent a week sleeping on the floor of someone I’d met through stan Twitter but never actually spoken to in real life. But, I digress.

Saturday marked the fourth time Taylor had been a musical guest on ​SNL​, and it conveniently fell on the one weekend that I’d planned to be in New York (Was I there because earlier in the year I thought this would be the weekend she’d drop ​Lover,​ so I booked flights before we even had a lead single? Maybe.).

Plus, the host was Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and as a lesbian I am pretty much contractually obligated to loveKilling Eve. The universe told me that I had to be at this show, and I listened.

(I Was Not) ‘…Ready For It’

I wasn’t taking any chances, which is why I took my spot in the line at 7am on Thursday morning for standby tickets.

At this point there were only nine people in front of me, so I was feeling pretty good about my chances. I lined up on my own, but a few friends who I’d met through stan Twitter joined later in the day. Half the people in the line were people I knew — or knew of — from the internet. It was my Twitter timeline, turned into a… line.

I must admit I was woefully underprepared. I figured I could just sit on the pavement, maybe curl up under a blanket when I needed to sleep. But then NYC’s late summer weather turned from 35°C and humid to 15°C and pouring rain overnight.

My Australian ass couldn’t handle the cold despite wearing a thermal and jacket, and I was certain I’d get trench foot from my wet Converse. At one point, I replaced them with plastic bags, which wasn’t as waterproof as I’d hoped.

Do not try this at home, or outside the SNL studios. Or anywhere.

But by Friday night, the rain cleared and the end was in sight. Spirits were high, and we all started to feel like we could actually make it through — though that could also be attributed to the case of alcoholic seltzer that we bought and absolutely plowed through.

At one point, Taylor saw on Twitter that we were all camped out, and sent down boxes of pizza. This sent us into a frenzy which helped time pass for a good two hours.

I felt bad for the non-Swifties next to me who had to endure our extremely loud and drunk dance party at 11pm. Canadians, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.

That night, the temperature hovered around 5°C. I’d figured out that the subway grates on the sidewalk emit disgusting warm air, so I curled up on one of them for a little nap. It might have been one of my lowest moments, but it was all worth it when I got my standby ticket at 7am — exactly 48 hours after I started lining up.

I chose to try for tickets to the dress rehearsal over the live show, to guarantee I’d get in. After going home to sleep, shower, eat, and re-caffeinate, we headed back to the studio. It was time.

‘Never Start A Fight With A Swiftie’

Before I go any further, I want to clear something up. Let me assure you that, despite what I saw one person on Twitter say, no one in that line was wearing a diaper.

Every time we needed to pee, or get food, or just get away from the streaming ticker-tape of headlines on the Fox News building across the street, we could leave our post for a little bit. As long as you’re not heading home to nap or go sightseeing, someone will hold your spot.

The line.

While you’d think this sort of scenario could quickly devolve into some kind of ​Hunger Games-e​sque ‘every man for themselves’ type of scenario, that wasn’t the case.

Swifties are no amateurs, and are prepared to camp out — the two people in front of me had seven battery packs, and things stayed pretty friendly, too. The guy in front of me invited me to hide in his tent from the rain, the woman behind me lent me a pair of socks, and we all offered to bring each other coffee and snacks when we took breaks.

Okay, I did almost start a fight with a group at the front. But one of them left for 10 hours to escape the rain before reclaiming her spot!

It got pretty dire.

Thankfully, I remembered the cardinal rule every human on the internet should follow: Never Start A Fight With A Swiftie. I stepped back, blaming that temporary lapse in judgement on the fact that it was 5am and I’d had about a half-hour of sleep.

OMFG stands for Oh My ‘False God’

Obviously, Taylor’s performance was amazing, but you knew I was going to say that.

I’ve seen other artists rehearse before X-Factor and The Voice, where they took a couple of takes and ironed out kinks. But for both songs, Taylor just came out, did her thing perfectly, and left.

I’d wondered if musical guests phone it in for the rehearsal, but I’d actually say her vocals on ‘False God’ were stronger than when she did it for real on the show. The whole performance was done exactly as on TV.

Unfortunately I was seated on the opposite side to the musical stage — the SNL stage is made up of a bunch of sets next to each other —  but I was still no more than 20 metres from Taylor.

My section of seats was full of Swifties, so of course there was a lot of screaming when she came out. But other than that the audience was pretty subdued, probably because she gave such a stripped-back, almost a capella performance.

Seeing her in a quiet studio with a couple hundred people is such a different experience than in a stadium full of screaming fans. The energy was off the charts. I may be biased but I’m sure even the non-Swifties in the audience would agree she captivated the entire room.

Now that I’ve lived through the experience, I’d like to say that I don’t feel the need to ever do it again. Every time I think to myself, “it wasn’t ​that​ bad”, I force myself to remember sitting in the pouring rain at 3am with plastic bags tied around my feet, and the security guard telling us to watch out for roaches coming up through the subway grate I’d made my bed.

But honestly, it was a lot of fun. If the weather was better, and there’s that right combination of host and musical guest, you’ll catch my ass zooming right back to that damn line.


Jemima Skelley is the former lifestyle editor of BuzzFeed Australia, and Australia’s chief Taylor Swift correspondent. She is on Twitter.