10 Days of Taylor: How to meet Taylor Swift in Tampa
(Welcome to 10 Days of Taylor, our epic countdown to the epic finale of the most epic pop tour of all time: Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour, stopping Halloween Night at Raymond James Stadium. For all of our Taylor Swift coverage, click here.)
Believe it or not, Taylor Swift’s concert at Raymond James Stadium won’t be the hottest ticket in town come Halloween night.
The hottest ticket in town is the one that gets you backstage to meet her.
“This is probably more valuable than if we were giving away bars of gold on the air,” said Dan Mason, program director for Hot 101.5 in St. Petersburg, which is running a “meet Taylor” treasure hunt on Instagram.
Like most pop and rock stars, Swift hugs and snaps photos with fans and industry professionals at just about every concert. But in typical Swift fashion, she tends to go above and beyond what’s required.
As Swift explained in a recent GQ cover story, she typically hosts three meet-and-greets at each stop on her 1989 World Tour. There's a private pre-show soiree for about 40 selected radio and industry VIPs. That's followed by a photo op for about 150 contest winners from radio stations and other sponsors. Then, after the show, there's a more casual after party for 30 or 40 mostly hand-picked guests.
That last one, dubbed “Loft '89," is the most desirable ticket of all — and also the hardest to obtain. Tampa’s Loft ’89 party is expected to have a Halloween theme, said Kim Cusmano, marketing and promotions director for iHeartMedia in Tampa, which includes 93.3-FLZ and Mix 100.7. “Taylor’s apparently supposed to be in costume,” she said.
While 93.3-FLZ and iHeartMedia have already given away their allotment of Loft ’89 passes, at past stops on Swift’s tour, members of her team — and sometimes even her mother, Andrea — have scoured the crowd and handed out passes to diehard fans in costume. It’s a longshot — and on Halloween night, the costume competition will be fierce — but at this point, it might be your only way in.
That leaves the pre-show photo op. Many radio stations are giving away concert tickets over the next 10 days, but only three still have meet-and-greet passes — Hot 101.5’s Instagram treasure hunt, a 93.3-FLZ photo contest contest and a Mix 100.7 mini-essay contest (140 characters or less) that also includes front-row seats. (93.3-FLZ is also staging an acoustic performance and meet-and-greet by Swift’s opener, Shawn Mendes.) All three Taylor Swift contests end Sunday at midnight — Swift’s security squad requires names and birthdates well in advance — and all three have attracted gobs of attention.
“It’s just absolutely out of control,” Cusmano said. “And it’s not just our local market. It’s all over the country, people are trying to get in on these contests.” (For the record, Cusmano said entries from outside Tampa Bay will be weeded out.)
But if you do get in? It’s glorious.
“During that time you spend with her, she will make you feel like the most important person in the world,” said Mason, who has met Swift three times, including at a 1989 listening party in her New York apartment. “She’s always personable, she always smiles, she’ll ask you your name, she’ll ask you where you’re from. You don’t always get that from top-tier artists.”
As Swift put it in GQ: “A meaningful conversation doesn’t mean that conversation has to last an hour. A meet-and-greet might sound weird to someone who’s never done one, but after 10 years, you learn to appreciate happiness when it happens, and that happiness is rare and fleeting, and that you’re not entitled to it.”
No one is entitled to meet Taylor Swift. But if it happens, be happy and enjoy it.
-- Jay Cridlin