What it’s like inside The Black Dog, the London pub made famous by Taylor Swift………………

It’s a midweek lunchtime on an unassuming residential street in Vauxhall, south London. There aren’t many people about – the occasional dog walker, a few runners, a couple of delivery drivers. It’s pretty much what you’d expect on a drizzly work day.

But turning the corner, it’s a different story. A redbrick Victorian pub, draped in hanging flower baskets and mosaic tiling, is an unexpected hive of activity.

Despite the drizzle, people are sitting outside, nursing pints of beer and cups of coffee. Circling them are a handful of journalists – holding microphones, cameras, notepads. Passersby stop, point and pose for photos. Every few minutes, excited customers pour out of black cabs and head inside, where every table is taken.

Welcome to The Black Dog. A local London pub that’s been thrust into an unexpected spotlight and onto the tourist map, thanks to musician Taylor Swift.

Last Friday, Swift released her latest album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” along with a surprise additional 15 songs that make up “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.”

On Instagram, Swift described the music as chronicling a “fleeting and fatalistic moment in time – one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure.” The record appears to be inspired by the aftermath of Swift’s break-up with her long term partner, British actor Joe Alwyn, which saw her dive into a short lived but intense relationship with another Londoner – 1975 singer Matty Healy.

Amid the 31 tracks – which range from upbeat synth pop masking heartbreak, to slower, folk-inspired songs that lean into the sadness – is a reflective, moody track called “The Black Dog,” in which Swift sings about an ex who left his cell phone location settings on after the break-up:

“And so I watch as you walk

Into some bar called The Black Dog

And pierce new holes in my heart”

As soon as these lyrics hit the internet, Swifties started sleuthing. Was The Black Dog a real London spot, or just a fictional name chosen for its symbolic significance?

Maddie Essig, an American college student studying abroad in London, was among the fans who immediately started Googling.

“Joe and Taylor spent a lot of time in London,” says Essig. “I figured it would be around here somewhere.”

Essig is sitting inside The Black Dog at a table by the window, opposite her friend – fellow American abroad and Swift fan – Jenna Spackey. When the two start chatting with CNN Travel, they’ve just finished up their pub lunch (Spackey had a Caesar salad, Essig had British pub classic fish and chips).

The two friends had never been to Vauxhall before. But once they realized The Black Dog was real, they hopped on a tube train – partly as a Swiftie pilgrimage and partly to celebrate finishing up their college semester. The two only have a couple of weeks left in the UK before they return to the US – Essig to Baltimore, Maryland and Spackey to Houston, Texas. They’re calling this period their “So Long, London” era, an homage to another song on “The Tortured Poets Department” which references the UK capital.

This new record isn’t the first time Swift’s namechecked London locations in her music. In her 2019 track “London Boy” – believed to be about Alwyn – Swift describes enjoying “nights out in Brixton” and “Shoreditch in the afternoon,” as well as “walking Camden Market” and heading to Highgate, the West End and even finding joy in “gray sky, a rainy cab ride.”

“People will go to all the places that she lists in the song,” says Spackey of “London Boy.” “I feel like The Black Dog will definitely be added to the hit list.”


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