On May 31, Florencia Romeo slept in a tent outside Argentina’s largest stadium with her girlfriend and her sister. They had heard rumors that Taylor Swift might be coming to Buenos Aires, and they wanted to be first in line.
The rumors were right: Ms. Swift was coming, but it would take a while. Her concert was more than five months away.
The tent stayed anyway, occupied by a rotating cast of 30 die-hard Swifties who worked together over 163 days to hold their spots in line for a chance to get as close as possible to their idol when she walked onstage Thursday in the first stop of her Eras Tour outside North America.
“We have been waiting for this for many years,” said Ms. Romeo, 23, who quit her job as a cashier partly to dedicate herself to waiting in line. “We didn’t expect her to come, and then she did. So it was obvious that we had to do what we had to do.”
Ms. Swift’s Eras Tour officially went global on Thursday when the pop megastar began a new phase of shows that would take her to 25 cities across South America, Asia, Australia and Europe over the next 10 months.
Since March, the North American stretch of the tour has become an economic marvel and a cultural force, cementing Ms. Swift’s status as one of the most influential, and beloved, people on the continent. Now, she is set to demonstrate that her fame and adoration go well beyond borders.
There are few countries better to display the intense passion of her fans than Argentina. While Ms. Swift has become a certified global icon, Argentina has become known for worshiping icons with religious fervor.
Consider that Juan and Eva Perón became Argentina’s president and first lady in 1946 but are still lionized in political chants, are displayed in portraits in many Argentine homes and are the inspiration for a namesake political movement that still runs the country. Diego Maradona, the soccer star, became seen as such a deity here that tens of thousands of Argentines belong to the, yes, Church of Maradona, a legally recognized religion in its 25th year. And after Lionel Messi and the national soccer team won the World Cup last year, the crush of four million adoring fans during the victory parade forced the players to abandon their buses and fly over in a helicopter instead.
“She’s like the female Messi,” said Ms. Romeo, offering Ms. Swift about the highest praise an Argentine could nowadays. Some fans in Buenos Aires this week wore jerseys of the national soccer team with “SWIFT” on the back, while others passed out a sort of prayer card with Ms. Swift’s head superimposed over Jesus Christ’s.
So it was no surprise that Ms. Swift’s arrival in Argentina became a national event. It received intense news coverage; Buenos Aires named her an official guest of honor; and she even became a figure in next week’s presidential election after some of her fans organized against the far-right candidate, Javier Milei. Meteorologists even described forecasts for sun or rain this weekend as “dry Swifties” or “wet Swifties.” (Friday called for “wet Swifties,” so organizers rescheduled that show for Sunday.)
“Everyone in the country knows her, and everyone knows about this show,” said Renata Schyfys, 15, wearing halfway up her forearms at the show on Thursday the friendship bracelets that have become a badge of Swiftie fandom.
In a country of 46 million people, Ms. Swift sold roughly 200,000 tickets across three sold-out shows, and yet the waiting list still had more than 2.8 million people — enough to fill Argentina’s biggest soccer arena, El Monumental, another 40 times.
That stadium was shaking on Thursday night with near-constant, ear-piercing screams coming from the more than 70,000 fans there who repeatedly chanted, “Olé, olé, olé, olé, Taylor, Taylor.”
Even Ms. Swift, who has seen her share of huge crowds, seemed taken aback. “I am looking out to possibly what might be one of the most epic crowds to ever exist,” she told the audience. “This is on another level.”
Later, she removed her earpieces and motioned that she was struggling to hear over the roar of the crowd. She paused for a full two minutes, soaking in her fans’ adoration.
“I don’t know how to thank you enough for the way you’re treating me tonight,” she said. “I love you so, so much, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to come see you.”
The show on Thursday was Ms. Swift’s first major concert in South America, the first of nine this month in Argentina and Brazil. After waiting for so long, many Swifties on Thursday said they had made a sort of pilgrimage, many from across the continent.
Nahuel Ochoa, a medical student wearing a homemade bedazzled jumpsuit and a glittery jacket, had taken a bus with 50 other fans from the city of San Luis, 12 hours away. Unable to get a room in Buenos Aires, where hotels were nearly sold out, he was planning to take the bus back after the show — and then return on Saturday to see Ms. Swift again.
“We have loved Taylor since we were 10 years old — we have been waiting 13 years,” Mr. Ochoa, 23, said, sitting alongside his childhood friend Andrea Garro. “Her songs reflect the majority of what we go through. It’s a form of expressing ourselves in a way that we can’t.”
Ms. Garro, 23, a law student, added that Ms. Swift’s music helped her get past a deep depression. “We feel seen,” she said.
But there was no show of devotion greater than the more than 100 fans who camped out in shifts outside the stadium for months. After Ms. Romeo and her friends staked out their spot and attracted local news attention, other tents followed.
The group of mostly young women set up shifts using a spreadsheet, with ideally at least two people present at the tent at all times. The 30 members of Ms. Romeo’s tent had to spend a minimum of 40 hours there a month, with each member spending about 10 to 12 nights at the tent on average. After spending the first few days sleeping with just blankets, they added a mattress.
“She has the best relationship with her fans and is the one that can achieve this sort of mania,” said Lucas Forte, 24, a member of another tent who had slept outside the stadium for five nights since September. “No one camped out for the Weeknd, for example.”
Ms. Swift herself was impressed with the effort. “I heard you guys were camping out to get good spots?” she asked the crowd on Thursday. “I actually didn’t believe it until I saw a video.”
The fans camping out were not holding a place to get tickets to the show. Those were all sold online. Rather, the tents were set up so they could be first in line when the doors to the show opened and the fans could sprint to the guardrails along the stage for a closer view.
Event organizers helped make sure the fans who had camped out were first in line — yet many still ended up behind rows of people because the doors opened an hour earlier for fans who had paid more for “V.I.P.” tickets.
But some campers eventually reached the barricade along the stage.
“I smashed my knee trying to get there,” said Atenas Astuni, 23, a member of the first-in-line tent, her voice hoarse the Friday morning after the show. “But if I had to smash my knee again to repeat exactly what happened yesterday, I would do it without hesitation.”