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Sunday, February 25, 2024

There are more than 900 student organizations at UF, but only one is dedicated to Taylor Swift.

The new Taylor Swift Society welcomes fans across campus to share their love for the 33-year-old American singer-songwriter. The club’s founder, Dalia Dooley, a 19-year-old UF history sophomore, came up with the idea in the Fall.

During a shift working for the university archives at Smathers Library, Dooley was tasked with filing all clubs and organizations digitally.

“I’m looking through all these different club names — some of them are just so obscure — and I'm like, ‘What if there's a Taylor Swift club?’” she said.

Her search reached a dead end. There was no Swift club.

Dooley, a devoted Swift fan since the beginning of the artist’s career, decided to start her own club. Since UF approved the club in December, its GroupMe has gained more than 200 members. Dooley began posting flyers around campus Jan. 9 to advertise the club with the GroupMe QR code.

“It really doesn't matter if you've loved her since ‘Fearless’ or ‘Red,’ or even since you've listened to ‘Folklore,’” Dooley said. “I think she's at her height. I think there are so many new people who are interested.”

Club activities may include singing during karaoke nights, discussing favorite songs, rating Swift’s ex-boyfriends and watching events like the Grammy Awards, where Swift became the first female artist to earn three Album of the Year awards. Dooley hopes to host a fundraiser for cat shelters, she said, in honor of the artist’s love for her cats.

Dooley is working with GroupMe members to determine a date and location for the first meeting. 

“It's very laid back and relaxed,” Dooley said. “We are not going to have a lot of meetings, but we're going to have activities, which I think is a different approach.”

Nicole Quintero, a 19-year-old UF digital arts and sciences sophomore, is the club’s treasurer. Swift has paved a fearless path in the music industry, Quintero said, having experimented with multiple genres throughout her discography.

“Every single album has a different tone, and yet it's completely successful and everyone loves her for that,” Quintero said. “That's a really bold decision because a lot of artists are afraid to do that or change up their style.”

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The group serves as an outlet for students to make new friends without having to commit to an academic-based organization that has strict time commitments, Quintero said.

“It's just a club where anyone can gush over the queen, Taylor Swift,” Quintero said.

Swift’s music and social activism reflects a shift in how gender norms and expectations are viewed in society, which helps empower others, Quintero said.

“Being a woman and such a popular figure at this point, she's kind of become a dominating figure in the music industry,” Quintero said.

 

For those who are not self-described Swifites, the question remains: What makes Swift so special? Jackson Haynes, a 20-year-old UF biomedical sophomore, said he didn’t understand the hype until Swift released her fourth album, “Red,” in 2012.

“I just love how she crosses so many different genres and music everywhere,” Haynes said. “All of her songs are applicable to all of our lives. Almost anyone can relate with at least one Taylor Swift song. 

By the 2014 release of Swift’s fifth album, “1989,” Haynes was invested.

“She is the best songwriter of our generation,” Haynes said.

Following her unexpected release of “Folklore” in July, 2020, Swift surprised her fans once more with the sister album, “Evermore,” Dec. 11, 2020 — two days before her 31st birthday. Theories began circulating about a mysterious triplet album, rumored to be called “Woodvale,” which Swift has denied.

“There's a lot of Swifties that do a lot of research and have a lot of theories,” Haynes said. “I’m excited to hear what other people have to say and have the discourse.”

When Haynes heard that the club was forming, he was excited to interact with others who shared the same love for Swift and her music.

“It's really cool whenever you're able to interact with people who love the same artists,” Haynes said. “I don’t really know too many people who are as big of a fan as me.”

A big question among Swifties is the ranking of her eras.

“My favorite era was probably ‘Reputation,’” Haynes said. “I think that one probably resonates with me the most — just fighting back against the haters and showing that you're going to stay and you're not going to let people take you down for just being yourself.” 

Swifties are currently musing over the October release of her tenth album, “Midnights,” in and are anticipating the artist’s long-awaited re-release of her albums “Speak Now” and “1989.” 

Swift began re-recording her first six albums in 2021 following a 2019 financial dispute with her former record label, Big Machine Records. For every bit of controversy Swift faced, Dooley said she continued to stand up for herself in a competitive music industry.

“Rather than cowering back for the rest of her career and feeling sorry for herself, she wrote ‘Reputation,’” Dooley said. “That basically said, ‘Listen. Karma is going to come back.’ She was 100% right.”

“Miss Americana,” a documentary detailing Swift’s life and musical career, was released on Netflix Jan. 31, 2020, following the release of her seventh album, “Lover.” In the documentary, Swift addressed her mental health, body image insecurities and the sexual abuse women face when trying to find success in a male-dominated industry. 

“A woman like that still has those issues, which I think brings it down to a closer level at least for me,” Dooley said.

In the student club, fans can exchange and sell tickets, as well as carpool to concerts, Dooley said. Dooley, Quintero and Haynes will see Swift when she performs in Tampa this April. Those who cannot attend The Eras Tour will live vicariously through their friends, Charan said. 

Regardless of which of Swift’s 10 eras a student connects with, Taylor Swift Society welcomes Swifties of all kinds to join together.

Contact Sophia at sbailly@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_bailly.

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Sophia Bailly

Sophia Bailly is a second-year journalism major and covers politics for the enterprise desk. Some of her favorite things include The Beatles, croissants and Agatha Christie books. When she's not writing stories she's either reading or going for a run.


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