I went to the London pub Taylor Swift name-dropped on her new album. Swifties are turning it into a fan club and the owners are thrilled.

  • Taylor Swift fans believe "The Black Dog" on her new album is about a London pub with the same name.

  • Since the album was released on Friday, the pub's been swarmed by Swifties.

  • I went to the pub to speak to Swifties, regulars, and staff about its newfound fame.

It's a Monday evening in a residential neighborhood in London tucked away to the south of the city center, and I'm chatting to an excited trio of Taylor Swift fans.

Tracy, Joy, and Claudine met on a WhatsApp group that the fandom uses to plan trips to Swift-related landmarks and events in the city. (They'd previously indulged in a Swiftie brunch together and danced at the Swiftegeddon club night). Last Thursday, The Black Dog, once an unassuming watering hole mostly used by locals and the odd tourist, became the latest must-see Swiftie attraction.

The three are among the hundreds (or thousands if you believe some news outlets) of Swifties who have made the pilgrimage to the pub since she sang about someone she was once close with going to "some bar called The Black Dog" on her new album, "The Tortured Poets Department."

As soon as the album leaked on Thursday ahead of its Friday release, fans started theorizing that Swift was referring to Matty Healy or Joe Alwyn, her British exes, whom the album is said to be about.

Matty Healy, Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn.
Matty Healy, Taylor Swift, and Joe Alwyn.Erika Goldring / Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic / Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

With no other London pubs called The Black Dog to be found, the Swifties quickly descended.

"I wanted to explore the world, and I guess my world is Taylor Swift right now," Claudine, 30, who's from New Zealand and traveling while working remotely, says. "So, when she references anything, that's in the place that I can get the tube to, I'm gonna go."

Joy, 27, and living in London, suggests being a Swiftie is akin to being religious, with Swift being "the priest" and "just being happy" replacing God.

Her words could easily be twisted to show how fanatical Swifities are, but our conversation makes me realize that while the pub is one way for them to feel closer to their idol, they also just want to form an IRL community.

Almost every fan I speak to says they want to return in the summer when Swift comes to London for the Eras tour and meet even more Swifties.

Photo of three Swifties outside The Black Dog pub.
Tracy, Claudine, and Joy outside The Black Dog pub.Ayomikun Adekaiyero

The Black Dog now serves Taylor Swift-themed burgers and drinks

And the owners of The Black Dog couldn't be happier to be touched by the "Taylor Swift effect." When Swift began publicly dating NFL football player Travis Kelce last September, sales of jerseys carrying his name spiked by 400%. Her Eras tour reportedly gave a $558 million boost to the Australian economy and another $5.7 billion to the US.

Although the impact on the pub this evening is decidedly more modest — there are just a dozen or so Swifties here this evening — it experienced one of the busiest weekends that its events and social media manager, Lily Bottomley, has ever seen.

Photo of Taylor Swift's lyrics outside The Black Dog Pub.
Photos of Taylor Swift's lyrics outside The Black Dog Pub.Ayomikun Adekaiyero

The pub's Instagram following has tripled since Friday, while a TikTok account launched that day has already received over 1.5 million views across six videos, Bottomley tells me.

"It's been a real whirlwind. There's definitely been a massive impact on sales. The Taylor Swift effect can't be underestimated," she says, although won't tell me exactly how many fans have visited.

The Black Dog responded quickly to the interest, offering free drinks to Swifties, teasing it own merch line, and joking on social media that they were trying to find surveillance footage footage of Healy and Alwyn.

There's now a "Swiftburger" on their menu and "Taylor's version" of their cocktails (although what makes them Swift-themed is unclear), and the song's lyrics scrawled on a chalkboard outside.

It all feels very gimmicky, but the Swifties I speak to love that the pub is embracing them, particularly when they have a reputation as being devout to the point of seeming insane, and suggest other ideas for it to try, such as a Swift brunch or trivia night.

Photo of the Taylor's Version cocktails.
Photo of the Taylor's Version cocktails.Ayomikun Adekaiyero

"I feel like they could have easily been like turning their nose up at Swifties just because obviously it's bringing more people, but it's also bringing chaos," says Tracy, a 30-year-old Swiftie who works in London. "But lean into it. We love it. it makes us so happy when people are like leaning into it."

It's clear that for fans the burgers and drinks aren't the draw, nor is it just a Swiftie landmark to show off about on Instagram. Most are just desperate to talk about the new album and their shared love for Swift.

The first Swifties I came across, Asim and Lauren, visited the pub alone and struck up a conversation after realizing their common connection.

Lawrence, 20, tells me he and his mother canceled their plans and traveled around an hour on the train from the neighboring county of Kent to visit the pub, and planned to stay there for the evening and meet other Swifties.

Photo of two Swifties inside The Black Dog pub.
Lawrence and his mom at The Black Dog.Ayomikun Adekaiyero

The Black Dog wants to cater to its new Swiftie clientele without scaring away regulars

Two regulars of The Black Dog, Hollie Spence, and Ashleigh Cusack, tell me that this is the busiest they have ever seen the pub on a Monday.

Spence and Cusack work nearby and have hung out at the pub for the last few months because it's usually quiet, they can smoke in the garden table area, and there aren't many other options nearby.

Now, they think they'll have to change their routine when Swift comes to London in the summer.

"She's got a very hardcore fan base, so I think it's gonna get quite busy in here," Spence says.

"We're gonna have to find a new pub," Cusack jokes.

Photo of Swifties chatting with each other and taking pictures outside The Black Dog pub
Photo of Swifties chatting with each other and taking pictures outside The Black Dog pubAyomikun Adekaiyero

Bottomley tells me that the pub will still try to keep the "neighborhood pub feel" and cater to its previous customers. Not wanting to dampen the Swiftie magic, she adds that includes the occasional British celeb including "a certain blonde regular," seemingly referring to Alwyn.

"We're still trying to keep our identity as a small neighborhood pub, but we love everybody who's positive about our place," she says.

The pub is already taking bookings for the summer and has hired more staff and security to handle days when many Swifties arrive, she says.

"This has just put a real fire under everything," Bottomley says. "I think it's becoming a destination for Swifties to come to, which is really exciting."

Read the original article on Business Insider