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    Why light was (almost) the star of the 1989 Tour


    Maureen Quinlan, a lighting writer and blogger based in Boston, Massachusetts, attended Taylor Swift’s current tour on July 25, 2015, and discovered the pop star wasn’t the only main attraction…

    “I can see each and every one of you,” the pop princess declared from her stage extended above the crowd. “I can see every single person who comes to my shows. Don’t believe me? Look around.”

    Looking around the massive stadium, I could see what Taylor meant. There were 60,000 individual dots of bright light. And I too could see every single person sharing this one-of-a-kind experience with me.
    Taylor Swift, who began her music career at age 15, has catapulted to superstar status in just 10 years. She is the face of multiple product campaigns, a social media juggernaut with over 61 million followers on Twitter and over 39 million followers on Instagram, has released five platinum studio albums, and is undoubtedly a force of nature in the entertainment world, music industry, and popular culture.

    It is no surprise that her most recent world tour, named for her album, 1989, released in October 2014, sold out stadiums in major cities on multiple nights. Her fans, known as Swifties, have come to expect the spectacular from the singer. Her previous tours have touted scenes far beyond singing into a microphone. The costumes, the set pieces, the background dancers, her intimate conversations with crowds of thousands, and her fierce dedication to creating show-stopping effects are the standard when paying higher-than-normal ticket prices for a precious seat at one of her shows.

    After such standards, the media, the world, and most importantly, her fans, speculated at what could make her 1989 tour even bigger and better. In-demand opening acts, special musical guests, and appearances from her famous best friends have heightened the experience, but the element of light has taken the 1989 tour beyond anything anyone was expecting.

    Most concerts use lights on stage and create transcendent shows around the performer. But at the 1989 World Tour, light was put in the hands of the audience. Translucent rubber bracelets embedded with LEDs were given to every ticket holder. They were programmed to flash and change color in sync with the show. Suddenly the show became personal. The audience felt connected to Taylor in a platform her tours had never provided before.

    As the song “Welcome to New York” blasted through the speakers and the excitement rippled through the crowd, the bracelets emanated a bright white light. The show began, Taylor emerged onto the stage, and the audience came to life.

    During songs with intense beats, like “Bad Blood” and “Blank Space,” the bracelets pulsed with red beams. And when Taylor slowed it down for her classic “Fifteen,” the light of the bracelets perfectly matched the blue light glowing around her runway stage. For some songs, the bracelets glittered in different colors all around making the stadium look like it was full of multi-colored fireflies.

    The star herself even incorporated light beyond audience-blinders or spotlights on stage. During the song “How You Get the Girl,” Taylor dons a pink skirt and top with LED nodes inside. Towards the musical arc of the song, the lights go off and all the audience sees is a dress of light dancing around the stage.

    The light of the 1989 tour transported the audience to another level of concert-going. With such high expectations of Miss Swift, just the simple addition of personal participation elevated the experience of a Taylor Swift concert yet again.