Taylor Swift's reputation tour kicked off in early May. In a departure from our usual format, Refinery29 went straight to the source: Her lead snake performer. As per usual, just go with it.
This week, Taylor Swift took over the enormous MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for three nights — the first female performer to do that, ever. Over the three night stay, Swift tackled a hell of a lot of rain. On both Saturday and Sunday, there were warnings of a flash flood. Concert attendees persevered in ponchos and high spirits as Swift proceeded (without a freakin’ hitch and with lots of smiles) with her roughly 90-minute set. After the astounding three-show weekend, Refinery29 sat down with the snake featured in the show (particularly during “Look What You Made Me Do”). Their name is Dale, and they've been journaling their touring experience for Refinery29.
Refinery29: What a weekend! Were you at all deterred by the rain?
Dale: "Not at all! You should know that Taylor loves a rain show, so do we. I'm a bit pricklier about rain because I'm made of cloth — don't you hate when you get rained on?"
Depends. I rarely have to perform a two-hour concert in the rain. I mean, I’ve sat through a few and they rocked! But I didn’t have to, like, fly across a stadium or do crazy dance moves or play a guitar or whatever.
"Exactly! It can get annoying if you're outside for that long. But Taylor's practically amphibian, and I say that as someone who knows a lot of amphibians."
You know a lot of... frogs?
"Yes. Do you remember the one in Pan's Labyrinth?"
I'd rather not.
"Yeah. Me either. He's an ass. Anyway, the rain tends to amp up the energy of the show. I don't mean to wax all emotional about the show, but when the rain comes down, the show feels all the more important. Like, the people who are there really stuck it out to see Taylor perform. It makes everything that much more joyous.
Oh! That's interesting. "Fearless" is a real hit and "Clean" is sort of a deep cut.
"Yeah! And both very rain-related. 'Fearless' is all about dancing in the rain in your best dress — well, that as a metaphor for being vulnerable in love — and 'Clean' is more about rain as a release. 'When I was drowning, that's when I was finally breathe' and all that. And I would dispute that 'Clean' is a deep cut. People really love that song."
You could argue that for any Taylor song. I love "Come Back, Be Here," and that's definitely a deep cut.
"Oh, I love that one! It's too low in my register to really sing along, but I really like it. As for 'Clean' being a deep cut, I think you might be onto something — she momentarily forgot lyrics when she sang it."
Happens to the best of us! 'Fearless' is a great pick, too.
"That's, like, her song. The 'Fearless' tour was her first headlining tour, all the way back in 2009! That's almost ten years ago! And that song has a lot of rain imagery, too. She sang that song on the b-stage with her guitar. Then, at the end of the second verse, she sang 'In New Jersey now' instead of 'In this moment now.' New Jersey went wild.
Plus, she wore a new dress this weekend! Her "Delicate" dress wasn't the usual rainbow stripey one. It's a blue and pink dress with a chevron on it now."
Were those her only surprise songs this weekend?
"Girl, give us more credit than that. Taylor's not going to repeat a surprise song to the New York City crowd! She sang 'Welcome to New York' Friday night — an obvious one — and then 'Enchanted' on Sunday. I'm a big fan of both, although 'Welcome to New York' is kind of painful for me. I moved here when I was a young snake and quickly moved away — goodbye to all that and stuff.
You pulled a Didion and left New York?
"Yeah, way back when I was fresh-from-the-factory. There's not a ton of work for giant puppet-snakes!"
No, there certainly is not. Is there a lot of competition?
"Only from those flappy men who stand outside of car dealerships. They're not even graceful."
Did you work for a car dealership?
Dale pulls the phone away and asks a question to their publicist.
I want the story on that eventually!
"I'm saving it for my book!"
How did your portion of the performance go? I mean "Look What You Made Me Do."
"Wonderfully! It's always so thrilling when I emerge from behind those two screens. And I really just billow out — I'm not some awkward puppet. It's graceful and thrilling! You know in The Nutcracker when the Christmas tree slowly grows and grows and grows? That's what my entrance is like.When it's raining, it's almost more thrilling, even though my hide is hard to clean. I'm still getting cleaned today! Thanks for taking this call with me while I get cleaned."
Alright. Last question: Was this a performance for New York or New Jersey?
"As a former New Yorker, I'm going to say New Jersey. You don't get tenacity like that in New York City!"
If you say so.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Also, it's not real.