So Long, London Boy
Fans think The Black Dog pub in London is the one referenced in Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets D...

Is The Black Dog A Real Place? The Bar In Taylor Swift’s Song, Revealed

Breaking down the Tortured Poets Department bonus track.

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The meeting of The Tortured Poets Department has officially commenced. Taylor Swift’s 11th studio album features 16 new songs, plus an additional 15 tracks on the double Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology. Three of the bonus songs are featured on variant versions of the OG album. After announcing the first two in February, the Grammy winner teased a third special edition TTPD, titled The Black Dog, at her March 3 show in Singapore.

At the time, some Swifties had speculated that “The Black Dog” was about one of the five stages of grief (depression), but now that the song — along with the rest of the album — has been released, it seems like the TTPD track may actually be about a very particular spot in London.

The Tortured Poets Department had long been rumored to be about Swift’s relationship with ex Joe Alwyn, with whom she broke up with in 2023. Songs like “So Long, London” seem to reference the British actor who inspired Lover tracks like “London Boy,” and Swift has mentioned various UK locations in her music since they started dating in 2017. Now, it looks like you can add The Black Dog bar to that list — but the song might actually be about another British beau Swift was linked to, Matty Healy from The 1975.

I am someone who until recent events you shared your secrets with and your location ... you forgot to turn it off.

The bonus track on the Black Dog variant begins with Swift singing, “I am someone who until recent events you shared your secrets with and your location / you forgot to turn it off / And so I watch as you walk into some bar called The Black Dog.”

Fans have theorized that in this line from the song, Swift is saying a former fling left his phone’s “Share My Location” feature turned on, so the Midnights singer was able to track where he was going and noticed he was at a bar.

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The *Real* Black Dog Is Located In A London Hot Spot

The Black Dog Freehouse is an actual pub in Vauxhall, an area in London known for its nightlife, and Swifties believe this is the bar from the song.

Aside from the obvious mention in the lyrics, Swift’s variant announcements could have also been Easter eggs related to the bar’s address. The Black Dog is located at 112 Vauxhall Walk, and Swift announced the first two variants on Night 1 of their cities, Melbourne and Sydney, but The Black Dog was on Night 2 in Singapore — aka 112.

Believing that the Black Dog Freehouse is the one mentioned in the TTPD tune, some fans have started commenting on the bar’s Instagram, saying things like “get ready, Taylor is coming,” and “this place is about to be a hit because of a Taylor Swift song.”

The Tea Behind “The Black Dog”

In “The Black Dog,” Swift sings, “I just don’t understand how you don’t miss me in The Black Dog when someone plays The Starting Line and you jump up, but she’s too young to know this song that was intertwined in the magic fabric of our dreaming.”

While some Swifties believe this is a potential sign of infidelity on behalf of her ex-love, others believe “The Black Dog” is about Healy moving on from their alleged fortnight romance and Swift imagining him in the bar, talking to another girl.

Robert Kamau/GC Images/Getty Images

While there was debate on whether or not the song was about Alwyn or Healy, a mention of the band The Starting Line has Swifties leaning toward the latter. In May 2023 — when Swift and Healy were reportedly dating — The 1975 frontman covered The Starting Line’s 2003 song “The Best of Me” on tour. Similar to how Swift and Healy were first linked in 2014, the song references former lovers who get back together with lyrics like, “We got older / But we’re still young / We never grew out of this feeling that we won’t give up.”

On The Black Dog variant of The Tortured Poets Department, there is a lyric from the song printed on the back that says, “Old habits die screaming.” This was the name of Swift’s depression playlist she created for Apple Music leading up to the Tortured Poets release.

Taylor Swift

She shared that songs under this playlist were written when she was feeling “lonely or hopeless.” To help her get through phases like that, she writes songs to process her emotions.

Regardless of whether you’re unable to move on after listening to TTPD, you can always add The Black Dog bar in London to your list of Swiftie locations to visit on your next overseas vacay. When you’re there, they may have a fan promo going on or be selling Black Dog merch for you to take home a souvenir from this The Tortured Poets Department landmark.

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