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Why Taylor Swift brought her boyfriend Travis Kelce onstage on The Eras Tour


Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have been dating for nearly a year.
Gareth Cattermole/TAS24/Getty, Tyler Le/BI

  • Travis Kelce made a surprise appearance onstage at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour show in London.
  • It’s the first time Swift has invited a boyfriend to share the spotlight during one of her concerts.
  • The cameo recalls the 1989 World Tour — before Swift pulled back from the public eye.

Taylor Swift is no stranger to bringing guests onstage. But during her last show in London on The Eras Tour on Sunday, she had a very special one: Her boyfriend, Travis Kelce.

Dressed in a ringmaster ensemble, the football star popped up during a costume change skit that acts as the prelude to Swift’s performance of “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.” Before she delivered the first lyric, Swift even broke character to blow Kelce a kiss.

Of course, Swift and Kelce haven’t been shy about kissing, cuddling, and supporting each other’s endeavors since they began dating last summer. But Kelce’s cameo gave PDA a whole new meaning. Never before had Swift invited a boyfriend to share the spotlight during one of her concerts, never mind one on a legacy-cementing, billion-dollar tour.

The move seems even more surprising and extravagant in contrast to Swift’s previous relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn. During their six years together, both stars fiercely protected their privacy and were rarely seen together in public.

Taylor Swift is joined onstage by Travis Kelce during The Eras Tour in London.
Gareth Cattermole/TAS24 via Getty Images

But for longtime Swifties, those who predate her relationship with Alwyn, Sunday’s events will feel more familiar than strange — almost like a callback to simpler times.

In the first half of her career, Swift wasn’t shy about her most romantic whims. She posted photos of heart-shaped lockets and tropical getaways; she took seaside strolls with her boyfriend’s mom; she wore ballgowns and belted starry-eyed ballads while suspended in the air on flying balconies. Swift loved a grand gesture, both real and imaginary.

This was especially evident during The 1989 World Tour, which ran for nearly seven months in 2015. No, Swift’s boyfriend at the time, Calvin Harris, did not make a surprise appearance. But pretty much everyone else did — from close friends like Karlie Kloss and Lena Dunham to athletes like Kobe Bryant and all manner of musicians and rock stars. Every night brought a new face, a new thrill, a new thread in the vast web of Swiftian lore.

At the time, the “1989” era marked the highest peak in Swift’s fame. Mostly thanks to her talent and partially thanks to her self-spun underdog narrative, she had enjoyed years of headlines like “Taylor Swift: America’s Sweetheart” and “Taylor Swift Is the Music Industry.”

With her new synth-pop sound, inescapable singles like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,” a so-called “squad” full of supermodels, and a cameo-packed tour, Swift was everywhere. And so, as often happens with female celebrities, her success went from charming to grating. A new kind of headline began to pop up, immortalized by Dayna Evans’ Gawker essay, “Taylor Swift Is Not Your Friend,” which criticized her tour antics as “opportunistic and sinister.”

Taylor Swift is joined onstage by Serena Williams, Karlie Kloss, and more during The 1989 World Tour in London.
Brian Rasic/LP5/Getty Images for TAS

Then came the infamous phone call. When Kim Kardashian shared a snippet of Swift’s conversation with Ye about his song “Famous” that seemed to contradict Swift’s version of events, the world was already ready to turn on her. In Swift’s own words, she was “canceled within an inch of my life and sanity.”

The backlash forced the self-described “mastermind” to recalculate her strategy and pull back from the public eye. She still released big pop bangers and went on tour, but her movements felt more careful, sparing, and protective.

Ever since Swift kicked off The Eras Tour last year (and split from Alwyn shortly after), she’s gradually returned to her pre-cancellation mentality. It’s arguably the most classic Swiftian ideology: More is more. This can apply to everything and anything. More songs, more hours onstage, more CD variants, and, naturally, more photo ops with her hunky boyfriend. She threatens to become overexposed again, but maybe this time, she knows she’ll survive.

Indeed, Swift told Time in December that she’s not interested in being “locked away” anymore — in exerting “an extreme amount of effort” to hide her passion and enthusiasm from the world, including her bond with Kelce.

“When you say a relationship is public, that means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care,” she said.

In this respect, Kelce may be the perfect match for Swift. After all, their relationship started after he mentioned wanting to meet her on his podcast; he’s a businessman (and a ham) in his own right. His managers have been open about their plan to make him “as famous as the Rock.”

For these two peas in a pod, personal triumphs are communal by trade, whether it’s a touchdown at the Super Bowl or a first kiss that inspires a smash hit.

“Ultimately, we can convolute it all we want, or try to overcomplicate it,” Swift told Time. “But there’s only one question: Are you not entertained?”

Ever the performer, Swift knows exactly what she’s doing. As much as maximalism is true to Swift’s brand, it’s also good for business.

Swift’s music indicates that she is expressive, theatrical, and sentimental at her core. Her net worth proves that she’s skilled at monetizing those qualities. After all, Swift made her name as a confessional songwriter, transforming her intimate moments into morsels for public consumption.

Perhaps bringing Kelce onstage felt as natural to Swift as writing a love song about him. But as Swift well knows, both will generate headlines.



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