‘Total frenzy’: Swift fever grows in Latin America

(FILES) US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, August 7, 2023. Latin America awaits pop superstar Taylor Swift with fervor but also with frustration: many fans are young people who suffer from economic hardship, yet they assume the high cost of tickets and are not resigned to the apparent irregularities in sales. The singer will perform in Mexico City from August 24 to 27, in Buenos Aires from November 9 to 11, in Rio de Janeiro from November 17 to 19, and in Sao Paulo from November 24 to 26. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

By Lucero Mendez and Ana Espinosa

MEXICO CITY, Aug 22, 2023 (AFP) – Excitement is building among Taylor Swift fans in Latin America who have endured months-long queues, expensive tickets and, in one case, assault to realize their dream of seeing the pop superstar.

The 33-year-old singer-songwriter, who holds the women’s record for most number one albums, will bring her “Eras” tour to the region from Thursday starting in Mexico, followed by Argentina and Brazil.

In Rio de Janeiro, Renan Rodrigues camped out for several nights to buy tickets for Swift’s November 17-19 concerts at the Nilton Santos stadium.

The 24-year-old DJ, who performs at parties for Swifties, as the pop star’s devoted fans are known, got tickets to all three performances.

But he paid a high price — an assailant hit him on the head with a bottle for resisting an attempted robbery while he was waiting.

“They wanted to take my cellphone, and inside the case was my card from the only bank authorized for ticket sales. I just thought: they won’t take my card,” said Rodrigues, who suffered superficial injuries.

Tickets for Taylor Swift shows in Brazil cost between $35 and $468.

In Mexico, where young people earn an average salary of $366 a month according to official data, fans had to pay between $55 and $614.

Ingrid Cruz, founder of the official Mexican fan club, described the high cost as “abuse” and complained that VIP packages were prioritized over regular tickets.

Fans also reported problems with the platform of US retail giant Ticketmaster.

The vendor operates in Mexico as part of the powerful CIE entertainment and media group, which in turn controls around two-thirds of the local market for live shows.

Pre-sales for the four concerts in Mexico City were based on a previous registration of “verified fans” by email.

But even Joel Aguilar, creator of Taylor Swift MX, a fan site with some 20,000 followers from 20 countries, failed to qualify, he said.

Denisse Castro, 26, who has been unemployed for six months, hoped that building a credit history and obtaining a card from the bank sponsoring the concert would help her to secure good seats.

Unfortunately for her, the bank recently tightened its credit restrictions, so Castro could only afford the cheapest tickets.

In the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, a group set up camp outside the River stadium in June, five months before the concert, to ensure they have places near the stage.

“It’s going to be a total frenzy,” said Iara Palavencino, one of the fans, who take it in turns to reserve their spots.

Tickets sold out quickly in Argentina, despite the country’s serious economic crisis.

In Chile, President Gabriel Boric, a self-proclaimed Swiftie, made an unsuccessful appeal to Swift to include his country on her tour.

And in Mexico, proving that the pop star’s popularity transcends age, a 64-year-old Supreme Court judge outed himself as a Swiftie earlier this year.

“There’s nothing trivial about Taylor Swift,” Arturo Zaldivar wrote in a newspaper in June.