Who are the Harry Styles fans who have been lining up for a year for concerts

Until October, 120 fans took turns in three tents waiting for the gates to open

Barbara Blum
Sao Paulo-SP

British singer Harry Styles’ concert in São Paulo is this Tuesday, but fans have been camping outside Allianz Parque, in the west of the city, since last year. The goal is to secure a spot close to the railing separating the audience from the stage where the idol will be.

Until October, 120 fans took turns in three tents waiting for the gates to open. On the weekend before the show, the number of camps increases.

A fan of the former One Direction member a decade ago, Rafaella Arruda Costa, 24, purchased tickets to the event’s premium track in 2019. The presentation was postponed due to the pandemic and tickets, whose premium modality amounted to R$668, were finally reallocated to this Tuesday.

The camp has been established since June 27. In the Arruda Costa tent, there are 60 people who rotate from 7am to 1pm, from 1pm to 7pm and from 7pm to 7am. There is even a ranking system among regulars – whoever takes more shifts gets a better position in the line.

The idea sprang from the chaos faced in line by another former One Direction showman, Louis Tomlinson, who was performing in Brazil in May. Even arriving on the queue one day earlier, Arruda Costa did not make it onto the grid. Contacting other frustrated fans resulted in being recruited to Styles’ concert camp. He planned to sleep out of Allianz from October onwards, but the news that another camp was being set up put his plans ahead of schedule.

The fan who introduced herself as Amy, 23, also from the Arruda Costa tent, “swore that she would never pull off such madness”. But it happens. “A lot of people don’t understand that you can continue to live a normal life,” says the young woman, who balances camp with college, internships and a shop dedicated to Styles.


The proximity of the concert, however, increased the tension in the line. Arruda Costa says she has received threats from fans unable to camp at the door and is now questioning whether this initial line-up was fair. On Saturday afternoon, the number of stalls increases.

Sacrifices sleeping in line are common among fans. That’s what another fan who identified herself as Gabrielle at the age of 12 did in 2014 to land a good spot at a One Direction concert. Today, at the age of 24, he is one of the people in charge of the Brazilian Harry Styles portal.
The site, which is hosted by six fans, collects information about the singer on social networks. They translate interviews, report on concerts, and interact with other fans. The portal’s Twitter account has 45,000 followers.

Everyone knows Harry Styles in their own way. Maria Eduarda, 20, learned about One Direction in her English class at school ten years ago. Gabrielle, Tamiris, 24, and Vanessa, 22, have been with the musician since the reality show The X Factor, in 2010, when the boy band that brought Styles to fame was formed. Bruna, 26, the portal’s oldest administrator, is the only one Styles has met in his solo career.

According to Maria Sherman, author of the book “Larger than Life”, about the history of boy bands, this type of group is characterized by its target audience – young women. “Boy bands could be BTS doing more trap and hip-hop or The Beatles singing ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ What unites them is that they are young men performing to a predominantly female audience.”


The author states that the appeal of a fandom, the name given to a collection of fans, is a sense of belonging. Being in a fan community allows sharing of events, releases and news.

Fans of Maria Eduarda define a passion for pop stars as a way of life. “Just like my friends spend their time buying a car or starting a family, I prefer going to concerts,” he says. “I started so young that I barely remember my previous life.”

Fans play an important role in the career growth of these stars. Canadian singer Justin Bieber started posting videos on YouTube and became famous through the efforts of his fans. In a similar vein, in the hands of the “directors” the song “No Control”, rejected by the group’s producers, became an informal single by One Direction. The young women ran an online campaign, placing the song among the most played and even produced amateur clips.

The behavior of online fans determines the functioning of the social network itself, according to researcher Kaitlyn Tiffany, author of “Everything I Need, I Get From You: How Fangirls Invented the Internet” about One Direction fans. Memes like “come to Brazil”, phrases repeated by Brazilian fans, hashtags and GIFs all started with a fan community.


“Groups dedicated to bands like the Grateful Dead and the ‘X-Files’ series had an earlier motivation to use the internet and networks. Fans are always the first to appear on new platforms introduced on the internet because they already have an instinct to look for tools and utilities for fandoms,” said Tiffany.

The same organizational capacities exist outside of music and fandoms show themselves as politicized groups. In the 2020 US election, the “soldiers”, BTS fans, orchestrated online sabotage at GOP events.

During the Black Lives Matter protests that same year, they flooded the police station with K-pop videos asking for information about protesters. In this year’s Brazilian presidential election, Harry Styles fans campaigned for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from PT, on the portal dedicated to the singer.


Stigma haunts communities like this. Fans, especially women, are ridiculed for voicing their passion. “I don’t hide it, I post it myself. I know what people think, but I don’t care,” Gabrielle said.


According to the portal’s two administrators, Bruna and Luiza, the origins imply more machismo than Harry Styles’ fanfare. “A guy who is obsessed with football, going to every game and watching home games is okay. For a woman to be a fan, to go to all the shows, it’s too much,” said Luiza.

“It’s easier to label these girls as grumpy. They are seen as irrational savages, never as people who want to be part of a community,” said researcher Maria Sherman.

Even though the camp involved perrengues like spending the night in the rain in a tent, using the bathroom at a nearby mall, and risking safety on Avenida Francisco Matarazzo, the young girls couldn’t wait for Styles’ show.

Even after a long effort, they say that the adrenaline rush of seeing an idol so close that they don’t even feel tired. After this Tuesday’s show, they returned to camp to secure the same schedule for their next shows, on the 13th and 14th.

Jackson Wintringham

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