Publicity materials for Taylor Swift’s album “Midnights” on display in a record shop window in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Hazel Plater/

“You know that feeling you get when you’re at a concert because everybody is there, and you’re all singing the same lines? You’re gonna have that minus the fact that Taylor Swift isn’t gonna be at the State Theatre,” says Westbrook-based therapist Kristen Gingrich about the Taylor Swift dance party happening Friday night.

The event is called Best Night Ever: Taylor’s Version, and a DJ will be spinning all sorts of Swift tracks, from the hits to the deep cuts and fan requests. The presenter, Best Night Ever, is a national dance party company that’s holding the same event at venues throughout the country, including two the same night in New York, as well as dance parties with other themes, like boy bands and Justin Bieber.

Swift’s “Eras” tour kicks off next month in Arizona, and it includes three nights in May at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Gingrich will be at one of the shows, as will fellow Swiftie Liesel Schroeder who lives in Portland and works at the Scarborough Bull Moose store.

As for me, I’m putting serious thought into hitting the dance party and then maybe trying to hitch a ride with a friend to Foxborough to see about scoring a last-minute parking lot ticket because I officially became a Taylor Swift fan in 2020, when she released “Folklore.” While I don’t think I’ve earned the title just yet of Swiftie, which Gingrich and Schroeder certainly have, I’ve come to love Swift’s music immensely, and the Best Night Ever party sure seems like  a fun way to hear a ton of it, surrounded by hardcore fans.

Liesel Schroeder (left) and Laurie Atkins on Oct. 31, 2015, in Tampa, Florida attending the Taylor Swift “1989”world tour concert. Photo courtesy of Liesel Schroeder

Schroeder, 24, has seen Swift twice. First in 2013 on the “Red” tour and again in 2015, when Swift toured behind the “1989” album. She started listening to Swift in 2007 when she was in third grade. It all started when one of her schoolmates had a Swift song stuck in her head and kept singing it. After school, Schroeder went home and Googled the lyrics and learned the song was “Our Song” from Swift’s 2006 debut album. Schroeder watched the video several times and has been hooked ever since, mostly because she loves Swift’s songwriting.

“I think it’s very universal and relatable,” she said. Even as Swift’s popularity has grown, Schroeder says her lyrics still hone in on the humanity of everyone’s experiences.


Schroeder also appreciates that Swift’s sound has shifted over the years from country to pop, folk-pop and beyond.

“I love artists that experiment and go out of their comfort zone,” said Schroeder. “You can only do the same thing so many times, and I love that she can recognize that and allow herself to evolve and try new things.”

Schroeder’s favorite album has long been “Reputation” (2017). “It came out at a time where I needed an album that was about letting go and moving on from bad situations,” she said. “Call It What You Want” is her favorite track off of it. Schroeder did, however, add that last year’s “Midnights” album is right up there, too, because of the songwriting. “I think those are songs that say a lot without having to go into a lot of details. You can gather what she’s trying to say just through a couple lines.”

As for the State Theatre event, Schroeder says she loves to sing and dance to Swift’s music at home and hopes to do the same on Friday with her fellow fans.

I asked Schroeder what she would say to Swift if given the opportunity. Schroeder got emotional and said that she’d want to thank Swift for providing an emotional release for so many years. “Her music is one of the only things that constantly has been there for me.”

Taylor Swift fan Kristen Gingrich. Photo courtesy of Kristen Gingrich

Gingrich, 31, was in seventh grade when Swift, 33, released her first album. “I was listening to that album on repeat, crying in my bed over a heartbreak, even though I’d never had my heart broken in seventh grade.


Gingrich listed “Red” (2012) and “Evermore” (2020) as her two favorite albums but had a tough time choosing because she said Swift’s albums are all so different.

The 10-minute version of the track “All Too Well” from Swift’s 2021 re-recording of her “Red” album is one of Gingrich’s favorite Swift tracks. She also mentioned “Fifteen” from “Fearless” (2008) and “Champagne Problems” from “Evermore.” Gingrich’s reasons were simple: “She’s a lyrical genius.”

Gingrich is so excited for the dance party, she bought three tickets so she can convince a few of her friends to go with her. The show in May will be her first time seeing Swift live.

Best Night Ever: Taylor’s Version
9 p.m. Friday. State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland, $25.

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