It’s New York, baby: Harry Styles takes over Madison Square Garden

Harry Styles, accompanied by his devoted and well-dressed fans, displays his massive effect in New York during a 15-show residency at Madison Square Garden.


Harry Styles’ residency at Madison Square Garden has created a cultural storm among his fans. (Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Emily Kerrigan, Staff Writer

After the end of One Direction — or its supposed “hiatus” — Harry Styles and his bandmates seemed to become remnants of a tween boy band fever dream. To reclaim the almost cult celebrity status that Styles once held may have initially seemed like an impossible feat. However, he has reached new heights of global superstardom, enabling him to continue on with his second tour titled “Love On Tour.” Part of what makes Styles so captivating is the allure of the Harry Styles image. His brand has evolved to encompass unique fashion choices, good music and — as his slogan goes — “treating people with kindness.”

Following the release of his third solo studio album, “Harry’s House,” Styles announced that he would do a series of residency shows in New York, Los Angeles, Austin and Chicago. Styles performed a grand total of 15 shows at Madison Square Garden. All shows were sold out, an incredible feat for a singular artist to accomplish, especially after having just completed a U.S. tour months before. Some fans even planned to attend more than one show and made travel plans solely around this concert series — although in the era of peak stan culture, this is not so uncommon. 

Styles’ residency has manifested itself in many different ways throughout the city. Regular late night Long Island Rail Road and subway commuters did not find these shows so amusing. Especially devoted fans camp outside of Madison Square Garden days before their concerts, sometimes forcing foot traffic to navigate around them. While their flashy outfits might be a slight shock upon first glance, it’s doubtful that people in sequined outfits sleeping on the sidewalk is enough to perturb a native New Yorker. 

Commuters could still find evidence of a Styles’ concert in the days and weeks following. If one paid close enough attention, they found boa feathers littering the streets outside of the stadium, the subway stairs and tracks, and almost the entirety of Penn Station. In fact, when I attended the concert on Sept. 21, I trekked a boa feather on the bottom of my shoe all the way to Queens. 

Styles’ concerts have become a study in social spectacles. Much like music festivals, such as Coachella,

fashion works in tandem with the show itself. For many fans, part of the fun is participating in what can be considered an impromptu fashion show, where feather boas are a staple to complete any outfit. This phenomenon has even gone as far as causing a boa shortage in New York, sending vendors across the city into a frenzy while trying to keep up with supply and demand. 

These displays of stylistic self-expression are a testament to the fact that Styles’ fanbase has embraced a sense of collectivism. This is best seen in the general admission pits of Styles’ concerts. Every attendee is dressed to impress — white Go-Go boots, `70s inspired patterned jumpsuits, replicas of Styles’ past outfits, and funky sunglasses, to name a few. While this could potentially be intimidating, especially for the unsuspecting and comparatively underdressed casual fan, it is also a demonstration of stan culture and how that translates to a real life community. 

At every concert, Styles makes a short speech during which he highlights that he wants everyone to be who they have always wanted to be. He encourages people to dance, sing or do whatever they feel like at the moment. During the hour and a half show, fans can become their best, most outgoing, outrageous and happiest selves. While Styles sings his aptly titled song “Treat People With Kindness,” hundreds of fans in the general admission area perform a dance called the boot scoot, a trendy type of line dance that began on TikTok. Some dance, while others participate in long conga lines across the pit. There is a euphoric feeling during Styles’ shows that can make you feel so interconnected with thousands of strangers. This is part of the beauty of what can be considered the “Harry Styles effect.”

For better or worse, Styles has captivated the attention of people around the world. But for now, he’s making New York Harry’s house.

Contact Emily Kerrigan at [email protected].