On Friday, the Swifties at U.Va., a relatively new but also exceptionally loud CIO, were spotted in billowing lavender and sky blue polka-dotted pants secured to their waists by green suspenders that had painted snakes running down them. They wore bulging neon shoes, thirteen sizes too big. Their faces were coated in tacky white face paint and, in some cases, whipped cream. Their eyes were encircled in periwinkle blue, they had large magenta circles drawn onto their cheeks. They wore curly wigs that looked like giant scoops of rainbow swirl sorbet dumped onto their heads. And to finish off the whole look, like a cherry on top of white frosted cupcake, were their round bright red noses, protruding like beacons of light.
To get to the bottom of their startling transformation, I tried to interview the group. But, the only sounds they could make were the squeaking of their rubber shoes, the snapping of their suspenders like an acoustic guitar string twang, the tooting of their clown noses and the whirring of their unicycle gears. When they opened their mouths, they seemed only to be able to make hissing noises like snakes. A few, after several tries, were able to muster out some gibberish syllables which I’d roughly translate as “Ra-ra-ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tah-tah!” in a Mickey Mouse voice.
After an extensive five minutes of research on Yik Yak, I found that this incident was not an anomaly. Another sighting of Swifties-of-U.Va.-turned-clowns was reported on November 26. Through old connections, I dug up ancient archives of Swiftie clowning. I found that this metamorphosis occurs only when Taylor Swift fans falsely predict and anticipate the announcement or surprise release of new music and hedge their bets on it.
On November 26, the Swifties at U.Va. hyped themselves up for the announcement of “reputation (Taylor’s Version)” during Swift’s show in São Paulo, after a series of media posts and outfits from her friends and dancers alluded to the release of the album. They thought then, that it would have been the perfect date — Nov. 26 was the last date of the Eras Tour in 2023 before Swift went on break for the holidays and kicked off the tour again in 2024. What better way to wrap up 2023 in the Swiftverse? But alas, there was no explanation, and there was no reputation. The CIO’s hair sprung up into rainbow curls, their paint appeared on their faces and they grew their clown noses. It did not just happen here, it was a global phenomenon. It wasn’t just the Swifties at U.Va. — the number of clown sightings in the streets spiked globally. People with coulrophobia hid their children.
Then the Swifties at U.Va. walked Clownelia Street again. They were sure it would be this day, because of the portrait of Swift in Time magazine. In the corner of it sat a little snake positioned next to a watch with the hour hand pointing at the 12 and the minute hand pointing at the eight. Judging by the little snakes throughout the collage and the photoshoot’s pictures perfectly matching the edgy and dark aesthetic of reputation, the Swifties at U.Va. CIO group chat surmised it could only mean one thing — “reputation (Taylor’s Version)” was going to be released at midnight Dec. 8. After the Swifties did the math and wrote up their 19-page dissertation, they patiently put off studying for their finals and awaited the album release at midnight. Instead, they once again grew clown noses and zipped around Grounds on their unicycles, beating the Veos at the street nuisance game.
While Swiftie clowns paraded all around the globe on this day, the Swifties at U.Va. CIO garnered special attention, through their viral posts and dedication. They had impressed the wider international Swiftie community and, through their support, earned a nomination to be added to the ballot of Clown of the Year.
The Swifties at U.Va. seized this opportunity and set up their campaign office in a circus tent on Clownelia Street. They conducted unicycle parades, made balloon animal snakes and chanted “Ra-ra-ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tah-tah!” in a chorus of Mickey Mouse voices. Voters began registering and sending their ballots early to pledge their votes to the Swifties at U.Va.
Other notable clowns such as the Joker, Pennywise, Ronald McDonald and Bozo were enraged and even threatened by the last-minute addendum to the ballot. Joker had won Clown of the Year almost every year, and his team indicated that they would not be having any of it if next year more people dressed up as Swifties clowns than him on Halloween. Pennywise’s team claimed the Swifties at U.Va. would cause the third “It” movie to be canceled. Bozo’s team tried to give a statement via telegram, forgetting that no one uses those anymore. Ronald McDonald silently withdrew from the race entirely.
Some University students were only slightly concerned about the Swifties at U.Va. campaign. “My girlfriend is in the Swifties at U.Va. CIO,” Joe Alvin revealed. “How long will she stay a clown? Forever?” Others had much more stringent responses to the Swifties at U.Va. leading in the polls. Kain West, a finance major, expressed his opinion before he was even asked for it. “Joker should win. I honestly don’t get the Taylor Swift hype or why we have a CIO for her fans here. She’s a faker who doesn’t deserve to be up in the running with the rest of the billionaires of the world. She just wants to make money, and I can’t respect anyone who does that.”
Subsequently, I asked him what he thought of Gautam Adani, Mark Zuckerburg, Bernie Ecclestone, his own grandfather and other billionaires who have been caught in controversy, committed fraud or fallen out of favor with the public. He gave no comment.
However, the majority of U.Va. is thrilled to have a University CIO representing the Cavaliers and the Charlottesville community in the Clown of the Year race. The campaign manager of the Swifties at U.Va. gave me her statement on behalf of the CIO, “We need everyone to fulfill their civic responsibility and vote for Swifties at U.Va. for Clown of the Year today!”