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Viagogo hosted their first Solo Socials event on Wednesday evening (May 22) and NME were down the front for all the action.

The event was inspired by research that shows 62 per cent of Britons have never been to a gig on their own and more than three quarters of those that have, felt nervous beforehand. According to viagogo, Solo Socials are specially designed to boost the confidence of fans and bring together like-minded people, with the first event held in honour of Taylor Swift’s massive Eras Tour touching down in the UK this summer.

So on Wednesday evening, 50 solo Swifites headed down to quirky cocktail club Mrs Riot in Covent Garden for the first Solo Social. As well as themed drinks (a glass of No Tequila, No Crime, anyone?) and pizza, fans were given tips and tricks from NHS doctor Ally Jaffee about approaching solo gig-going. Later in the night, an epic performance from Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK star Vicki Vivacious and several rounds of chaotic, pop-inspired bingo helped strangers become friends.

By the end of the first Solo Social, a joyous pop disco hosted by all-dancing, all lip-syncing Mrs Riot regular Margo Marshall had everyone up on their feet, belting out the words to some Swift classics as groups of people crammed themselves into a photobooth for a souvenir to remember the night. As Marshall told the room, “this is our space and we’ll celebrate however we want”.

This is how Solo Socials is helping gig-goers grow in confidence

The science

Dr Ally Jaffee, a Taylor Swift fan and junior NHS doctor, worked with viagogo to create Solo Socials. As well as talking to the room about the importance of taking a second to ground yourself through breathing techniques, she also shared seven top tips for any Swifties heading to Wembley Stadium on their own. These included getting lost in the music, booking smaller gigs as a warm-up and immersing yourself in online fan culture. “These tips could be the difference between sitting at home and getting FOMO or having the best night of your life,” she explained.

“Feeling nervous in a big, new environment is natural,” she continued, but a study by viagogo suggested it could be liberating as well. “Almost two in five fans noted a rise in self-confidence after their first solo gig – and that could be you.”

The power of drag

Iconic drag club Mrs Riot in Covent Garden was the perfect venue for an event focused on feeling comfortable through music and self-expression.

“So much drag is created by pop culture,” Vivacious told NME at the event, with the two worlds becoming increasingly interlinked. “So many pop stars are created by drag.”

The drag community has always championed creating safe spaces and the first Solo Socials event was no different, with larger-than-life performances from Vivacious and Marshall encouraging others to feel comfortable. “Drag’s an amazing thing, it makes you feel like an absolute superstar. That’s why I do it,” said Vivacious. “It releases something inside of me and I feel unstoppable when I’m in drag.”

Despite having the confidence to stand up in a room full of diehard Swifites and sing ‘Love Story’, Vivacious told NME she’s turned down countless gigs because she didn’t want to go along. “Thinking about it now, that’s so silly,” she explained. “I hope people get encouraged by this great event to go out and have fun.“

Photography by James North, provided courtesy of viagogo

Swifties are in it together

You probably don’t need to be told Taylor Swift is one of the most successful, influential and beloved artists around today. According to viagogo data, she’s also the number one most-viewed artist in the world and has been since the Eras Tour was first announced in November 2022. However, more than a quarter of all Eras Tour transactions on the platform have been for a single ticket, suggesting plenty of fans will be heading to those gigs by themselves.

One of those people is Gabriella, who attended Solo Socials in an attempt to meet other people also going to an Eras show by themselves. She’s been to gigs by herself before, including Swift’s Red tour in 2014 and Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts tour last week.

“It’s always a bit daunting at first, but there’s a great sense of community at shows. You always manage to find like-minded people,” she explained. “And it’s obviously really easy to find topics of conversation.”

The Eras tour has become a beacon for community and friendship, with plenty of fans going to the shows to trade handmade friendship bracelets to mates and strangers alike. Talking about Swift’s unifying power, Gabriella said: “It’s the fact we see ourselves in her music. I’ve been a fan since I was 12 and I’m 26 now, so I’ve practically grown up with her. There’s always a song about whatever it is I’m going through in my own life, and there’s something incredibly special about that.”

The post How Solos Socials is helping gig-goers find their tribe appeared first on NME.


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