Swifties prepare for the coming of Tay-Tay down under

Mackenzie Sinclair, 19, has been a Taylor Swift fan for as long as she can remember, but for the first time at the Eras tour she won’t be able to stand up and dance.

The former nursing student from Geelong has a rare neurological condition, and an episode in May 2023 saw her lose consciousness and end up in intensive care, unable to feel or move her legs.

“It’s going to be a massive change for me, my first concert in a wheelchair, not being able to dance around like everyone else,” she told AAP.

Ms Sinclair scored a rare accessible-zone ticket to Swift’s first concert at the MCG in Melbourne during the more than six months she spent in hospital, and the hope of making it to the event motivated her to persevere with her rehabilitation.

She kept a list of goals on a whiteboard in her hospital room with the concert listed up top, along with the phrase “karma is a cat”.

“There have been some really dark times in my life that I really haven’t seen a way out of,” said Ms Sinclair.

“Her music has honestly got me through it, as cliched as it sounds, she’s had such an impact on so many people.”

While Ms Sinclair said being in a wheelchair limited her outfit options for the concert, she intends to wear a pink glitter dress with puffed sleeves, ombre earrings (in a nod to the colour scheme of the Lover album) and paint a glitter heart around one eye.

Doctors still don’t know if she will regain the use of her legs, Sinclair said, so the distraction of threading more than 100 friendship bracelets to share with fellow Swifties has been especially welcome of late.

“It’s gonna be a challenge to hand them out, but it’s also going to be a way to prove that I can do things,” she said.

The excitement surrounding Swift’s Australian concerts has only intensified (if that were even possible) with the singer’s surprise announcement of a new album titled The Tortured Poets Department, during her acceptance speech for album of the year at the Grammys on Monday.

The pop superstar will play three sold out dates in Melbourne and another four in Sydney.

“She means everything,” said Brooke Sekhon, 24.

“Her music has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life, [it] helps me process my emotions and comforts me.”

For the February 16 concert, Ms Sekhon, who has alopecia, is considering bedazzling her head using eyelash glue.

“It’s my way of doing my hair, even though I don’t have any!” she joked.

The die-hard Swiftie has two tattoos dedicated to the pop star (a 13 and a Taylor’s Version, in folklore font) and drives a Suzuki Swift.

She has added “Taylor” in silver lettering above the car’s logo and below, “getaway car”.

Ms Sekhon’s biggest concern ahead of the night is the sheer number of people who will be heading to the MCG, and security for both Swift and for concertgoers.

Even so, at the Reputation stadium tour in 2018, she managed to meet Taylor Swift’s mum, who was surrounded by security guards but still up for a selfie.

“She was the sweetest person ever and it was one of the best moments of my life. I cried for a bit, I’m not gonna lie,” Ms Sekhon said.

She agreed the community of Swifties can be, well, intense at times, but said the singer’s devoted fans share a philosophy they learned growing up with her music.

“At the heart of it, it’s based on what Taylor has given us – be clever, be kind, be respectful, lift women up,” she said.


Liz Hobday
(Australian Associated Press)


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