Swiftie Craze Hits Florida: College Campuses Form Fan Societies

Taylor Swift’s influence has permeated music, pop-culture, real estate, economies and now, college campuses.

A close up image of Taylor Swift inspired friendship bracelets.

Known as Swifties, the singer has one of the most loyal fanbases in the world. In return, some have started societies nationwide to form communities that study and honor the icon— Florida is no exception.

Dalia Dooley, 20, is the founder and president of the Taylor Swift Society at the University of Florida, founded in the spring of 2023. She works in the archives department at the university and noticed there wasn’t a single club devoted to the megastar.

“I knew Brown University had a chapter, so I figured why not create one here?” she said.

Like an invisible string in society, Taylor Swift has tied her fans together despite cultural, racial or financial differences. Dooley hopes this club can bring in those fans to create an in-person community.

“The clubs on campus are all academic-oriented,” she said. “I wanted to eliminate that.”

On top of events, this society has also included listening parties at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, like when Swift released “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” in October. Approximately 300 people attended and belted the lyrics in unison.

“My friend texted me, saying she could hear the music from Wawa,” Dooley said.

“The Tortured Poets Department” is Swift’s next studio album, set to be released on April 19. The organization will be hosting a listening party at midnight on release day to celebrate.

People watching a movie in a dark room.

Courtesy Of The Taylor Swift Society At The University Of Florida Instagram

Taylor Swift Society club members watching “Miss Americana” at a screening party hosted by the club. “How can you hate someone that brings so many people that much joy,” Dalia Dooley, 20, said.

There are currently 687 members in the society. The organization has become a close community and utilizes GroupMe to stay in contact about the latest Swiftie news.

“If something new is announced, I don’t go to Google; I go to the GroupMe,” Dooley said.

When Swift brought the record-breaking Eras Tour to Tampa in April of last year, Dooley and approximately 40 other club members made the trip from Gainesville together, carpooling and splitting housing.

“The experience was a fun bonding moment, but it also made sense logistically,” Dooley said. “We split expenses, and it also eliminated the stress for students that didn’t have a car or were going to the concert alone.”

Eckerd College in St. Petersburg is another Florida institution that has joined the movement and created a Taylor Swift society. The club has been active since February 2022.

Julia Bennet is the co-founder and the current president. She got the idea to start the club after seeing various British universities implementing their own Taylor Swift societies.

“One of the slogans that bounces around at Eckerd is Keep Eckerd Weird,” Bennet said. “I figured that a Taylor Swift club would be perfect for Eckerd because it is ‘weird’ in the way that it isn’t something you’d really expect.”

<i>Dalia Dooley leads the first Taylor Swift Society club meeting. (Courtesy of The Taylor Swift Society at The University of Florida Instagram)</i><br/>

Courtesy Of The Taylor Swift Society At The University Of Florida Instagram

Dalia Dooley leads the first Taylor Swift Society club meeting.

Bennet and co-founder of the club, Clare Hart, wanted to create the club to help build a sense of community and belonging in a COVID-restricted era where meeting new people was hard to do, she said.

One of the club’s favorite activities to partake in is friendship bracelet making, Bennet said. Swift has revitalized the childhood pastime with just one lyric in a single song from “You’re on your own, kid.” Now, Swifties make bracelets that correlate with Swift’s different album eras or inside jokes within the fandom and then trade them among each other.

The club has gained attention from the college’s staff and has become a talking point when giving tours.

“The school seems to love our club,” Bennet said. “I’ve heard tour guides mentioning it as they pass by the student affairs offices.”

At the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, the organization’s website says its goal is to, “unite Swifties and have fun.” The organization’s most recent event was a Swift-themed karaoke night.

Taylor Swift has an indisputable presence in society. She was the most streamed artist in 2023, with over 29.1 billion plays, according to Spotify data. Swift’s latest album, “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” has already accumulated over 3 billion streams in less than six months since its initial release, Billboard reported.

“She is as close to perfection as someone can get,” Dalia Dooley said. “How can you hate someone that brings someone that much joy?”

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