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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.

READ MORE: Taylor school teachers remember her as a young star

Taylor Swift

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.

Unexpected fame

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.”

READ MORE: ’What did I just listen to?’ Longtime Taylor fan’s honest album review

An employee at The Black Dog pub is pictured making an  'Aperol Spritz (Taylor's Version)' cocktail.

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 – The 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?

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Taylor swift

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 realised 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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Pub perspective

While no one – least of all Swift – has actually confirmed the Vauxhall Black Dog is the inspiration for her song (there is another London-based Black Dog, for one, a beerhouse further out of the city in suburban Brentford – while some fans have pointed to a bar in Cork, Ireland with the same name) the south London Black Dog has leaned into its unexpected fame.

There’s now a sign in the window quoting the lyrics. On Instagram, the pub’s added “home to tortured poets” into its bio.

Inside The Black Dog, the cocktail list on the blackboard has the addendum “Taylor’s Version” – a reference to the way Swift delineates her recent rerecorded tracks from the originals.

Lily Bottomley, events and social media manager for SC Soho, the small hospitality group that owns The Black Dog, tells CNN Travel she first heard about the song through her own personal social media channels.

“I saw ‘Black Dog,’ and I was like, ‘Oh…’ And then it just spiralled. And within half a day – even before the album release, we had people showing up,” Bottomley says.

Over the weekend, the pub hired extra security – “just a precaution, nothing crazy happened.”

Then followed “a really busy Monday” and a slew of bookings for the end of June and mid-August, when Swift will play eight sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium. The Black Dog plans to open early and close later on those days.

READ MORE: Rapper cancels world tour after breaking foot at Coachella

Taylor Swift performs at Accor Stadium on February 23, 2024 in Sydney, Australia

When Bottomley chats to CNN Travel, she gestures at the already-packed pub: “We’re expecting a busy Tuesday too.”

There’s been press coverage across the world, and as Bottomley speaks to CNN Travel, other news outlets are setting up lives and filming TikToks outside the pub.

The Black Dog was already active on Instagram pre-Swift-fame but Bottomley and her team set up a TikTok account over the weekend.

“Our TikTok, within 72 hours, got over 200,000 likes and a million views after its creation,” says Bottomley. “It’s immense.”

Meanwhile, the pub’s Instagram following has “tripled, nearly quadrupled now,” says Bottomley. People are following and commenting from all over the world.

The Black Dog is “a local pub,” says Bottomley – it’s generally known for its “quiet, cozy kind of atmosphere most of the time.”

Music superstar Taylor Swift wraps up Australian tour

Its interior is inviting, chic – and more gastropub than loud bar.

But the influx of enthusiastic Swift fans has been a joy, says Bottomley.

“We’ve had singalongs,” she says, adding the team are “working on” the idea of a Swift-themed karaoke night.

So far, the fans who’ve come by have all brought a positive, infectious good vibe.

“Last night we had loads of Swifties come in who didn’t know each other, and they were pulling chairs together, pulling their tables together, such a great atmosphere,” says Bottmley. “It’s predominantly women and it’s really positive to have that community come together in a pub.”

While many fans – like Essig and Spackey – believe The Black Dog is about Joe Alwyn, others think Matty Healy could be the subject (the references to smoking and the ex’s penchant for an “esoteric joke” seem more Healy-coded).

Bottomley won’t confirm or deny anything, but she does hint that the pub has “a certain blond regular,” seemingly a reference to Alwyn’s fair hair color.

As for Swift herself, Bottomley says she’s “never seen her” in the The Black Dog (which, again, fits with the lyrics of the song, which suggest Swift’s narrator is unfamiliar with the bar).

“You never know though,” says Bottomley. “We’d love to have her.”

Scene-setting song writing

When CNN Travel visits, there’s no time to sample The Black Dog’s inviting looking food menu, but this writer opts for a Swift-approved glass of Sauvignon Blanc (in another new track, The Alchemy, Swift compares the rush of a new love affair to a glass of wine: “This happens once every few lifetimes/These chemicals hit me like white wine,” she sings).

Meanwhile my companion tries The Black Dog’s signature stout and gives it the seal of approval. The two drinks come to £14.65 (around $18) which is about what you’d expect for London in 2024.

The stout is served up in a pint glass printed with the pub’s name, and accompanying black dog logo.

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The Black Dog is planning to sell merchandise.

Bottomley says no one’s stolen any of these glasses yet – much to her relief – but the pub is in the process of making merchandise, so visitors may be able to take a glass home before too long.

“If The Black Dog sold merch, I would buy something from their store,” says Swift fan Avangeline Strasburg. “Having something from a place I got to visit, that is also mentioned in a song of my favorite artist, would be a really neat souvenir.”

Florida-based Strasburg and her friend and fellow Floridian Katie Hageman are currently in London on vacation, in celebration of Strasburg’s 29th birthday.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Taylor’s releasing an album, right for my birthday, right for our trip!'” says Strasburg.

When the two friends realized The Black Dog was a real pub, they knew they had to squeeze in a visit into their London itinerary.

“We wanted to see it for ourselves,” says Hageman.

The two friends describe the pub as “quaint” – adding it’s not really what they were expecting based on the song lyrics.

“Hearing those lyrics I think we assumed that it would be more of a dive bar with loud music,” says Hageman.

As they pore over The Black Dog’s food menu, deciding what to have for lunch, Hageman and Strasburg chat with CNN Travel about whether or not Swift’s “The Black Dog” song is really about this pub – and whether the song is about Matty Healy or Joe Alwyn, or both.

Taylor Swift accepts the award for best pop vocal album for "Midnights" during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles.

It’s fun to speculate, they agree, but “maybe it’s not even about a certain person.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, the two friends decide. What excites Strasburg and Hageman most of all is The Black Dog’s evocative, scene-setting lyrics, which are a staple of Swift’s song-writing.

This kind of writing is key to Swift’s success. The specificity of the imagery – such as the scarf in All Too Well which her ex still has in a “drawer even now” – allows listeners to put themselves in Swift’s shoes.

Sure, she’s a Grammy-winning billionaire leading a life worlds away from what most of us view as ordinary, but Swift has a knack for drawing emotion from everyday, relatable details.

And when Swift describes locations – whether the rented apartment on Cornelia Street or the “saltbox house on the coast” in The Last Great American Dynasty she does so with a particularity and fervor that allows listeners to draw an image in their minds’ eyes.

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Friends Katie Hageman and Avangeline Strasburg are on vacation in London. When they heard about The Black Dog, they had to incorporate the pub into their itinerary.

“She always includes little details, sometimes they’re vague, sometimes they’re specific – but they’re always parts of her life,” says Strasburg.

Hageman compares The Black Dog song to a “fable” – it’s probably not based entirely in reality. It may not be a real place. It may not be about a real person.

“This made the song even more relatable to us,” she says. “And I think to all who have created stories based on the glittering filtered details we perceive of each others’ lives from the outside.”

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Title: What it’s like inside The Black Dog, the London pub made famous by Taylor Swift
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Published Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2024 04:04:00 GMT

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Cassie and Husband Alex Fine’s Relationship Timeline

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline

Cassie and Alex Fine tied the knot less than one year after going public with their romance — and they’ve been going strong ever since.

“I felt really relaxed during the ceremony,” the singer, whose real name is Cassandra Ventura, told Vogue of the nuptials in October 2019. “As soon as I saw Alex, any nerves that I did have went away and I just couldn’t stop smiling.”

Cassie and Fine welcomed their first baby, daughter Frankie, two months after their wedding. Their second daughter, Sunny, was born in March 2021.

Keep scrolling for a look at Cassie and Fine’s love story over the years:

December 2018

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram
Cassie debuted her romance with Fine by sharing an Instagram photo of them kissing. The upload came two months after Cassie split from ex-boyfriend Sean “Diddy” Combs after dating on and off for 11 years. Cassie went on to sue Diddy in November 2023, claiming that the rapper began a pattern of control and abuse after they met in 2005.

“After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she said in a statement.

Diddy vehemently denied the allegations.

“Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations. For the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Ms. Ventura’s persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail,” his lawyer Ben Brafman said in a statement. “Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs’s reputation and seeking a payday.”

Us Weekly confirmed one day after the lawsuit was filed that Cassie and Diddy reached a settlement.

June 2019

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram

Cassie announced that she and Fine were expecting their first baby.

“Can’t wait to meet our baby girl 💗 Love You Always & Forever,” she captioned Instagram snaps of herself and Fine in a car.

August 2019

Fine asked the “Me & U singer” to marry him with a cowboy-themed proposal. The professional bull rider wore a cowboy hat and rode a horse over to Cassie before popping the question.

“When he got down on one knee, everything just stopped,” Cassie told Vogue in October 2019 of the romantic moment. “I felt like I lost my sense of hearing. I saw just his mouth moving and he said, ‘I Want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ I will never forget how special Alex made me feel that night.”

September 2019

Two months after getting engaged, Cassie and Fine had a backyard wedding in Malibu.

“We wanted a simple venue with a beautiful view that felt warm and romantic,” Cassie told Vogue of the big day. “We wanted the aesthetic to reflect how comfortable and content we feel with each other.”

December 2019

The pair became parents with the birth of their daughter Frankie.

“I can’t explain the amount of unconditional love and adoration that I have for my family,” Casie captioned a September 2020 carousel of Instagram photos of herself and Fine with their newborn. “I wake up everyday so thankful and happy to have my own. I will never take it for granted and will always feel honored to be able to experience this kind of love. Slowing down and simply enjoying each other has been a motto for us. We don’t need a lot, everything we need is right here.

December 2020

Cassie announced that she and Fine had another baby on the way.

“Coming soon …,” she captioned an Instagram video of then-12-month-old Frankie rubbing her baby bump as Fine held her hand.

March 2021

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Casandra Fine/Instagram

The couple expanded their family with the birth of daughter Sunny.

“Welcome to the world baby girl! We love you so much Sunny Cinco Fine!” Cassie captioned a series of Instagram photos of her newborn.

March 2023

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram

Fine counted his blessings while commemorating his 30th birthday via Instagram, including “a wife I love [who] loves me” and “two babies that make my heart grow bigger every time they smile.”

August 2023

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Casandra Fine/Instagram
Cassie penned a sweet tribute to Fine in honor of the twosome’s wedding anniversary.
“A day late, but had to make sure I showed ALL MY LOVE to this man! My husband! Happy 4th Anniversary to my Best Friend. There’s no one like you in this world,” the musician captioned a photo of the duo smiling.

She continued: “You have the biggest heart and the funniest sense of humor, your curiosity about life still surprises me and warms my heart everyday. I grow more and more and more and more in love with you as time goes on and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Most important of all, you’re only person that can actually make me laugh until I pee my pants – that says a lot. Thank you for loving me the way you do. I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH!! ♥♥♥♥.”

May 2024

After CNN shared resurfaced footage of Diddy allegedly assaulting Cassie back in 2016, Fine penned an open letter to his wife and family.

“I want my kids and every kid to live in a world that’s safe for women and girls, protects them and treats them as equals,” Fine wrote via Instagram. “To the women and children, you’re not alone, and you are heard. if you need help call the domestic violence hotline at (800) 799-7233.”

He continued, “Men who hit women aren’t men. Men who enable it and protect these people aren’t men. As men, violence against women shouldn’t be inevitable, check your brothers, your friends and your family. Our daughters, sisters, mothers and wives should feel protected and loved. Hold the women in your life with the upmost regard. Men who hurt women hate women.”


By: Sara Donnellan
Title: Cassie and Husband Alex Fine’s Relationship Timeline
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 17:41:30 +0000

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Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on

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Tiger Woods has always played to win. Since turning professional in 1996, he has won 82 tournaments, including 15 major championships. Perhaps, more astonishing than the victories and majors is the 142-event made cut streak that lasted over a seven-year period from 1998 to 2005, when he was the most dominant golfer that the game has ever seen.

Woods never said he was the greatest. He didn’t need to. “There is no sense in going to a tournament if you don’t believe that you can win it,” he once said.

Yet, coming into the PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, Woods was circumspect about his chances of hoisting his fifth Wanamaker Trophy. Asked about the state of his game, he admitted that he was rusty and that the barrage of injuries had taken a toll on his body. “I can still hit shots,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days.”

When the tournament began on Thursday, Woods, who was making his 23rd appearance in the PGA Championship, performed like the part-time player that he has become over the last several years. On his way to a 1-over par 72, the 48-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer hit a smattering of good shots but hardly kept pace in a first round that saw a record 64 players shoot under par scores.

“It’s just the competitive flow,” he said after the round. “It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds. These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

GettyImages 1203994953 edited 3 scaled
Tiger Woods holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 82nd PGA Championship on Aug. 20, 2000, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

David Cannon/Getty Images

By Friday afternoon, the tournament had been temporarily upstaged by the early morning arrest of Scottie Scheffler, the game’s No. 1 ranked player, for allegedly disobeying a police officer’s order at the entrance to the Valhalla Golf Club. Looking invincible like the Woods of old, Scheffler settled down after the shock of being handcuffed and hauled off to jail to shoot a 5-under par 66 to go into the weekend with a chance to win his second major of the year after taking the Masters last month. As Scheffler went off to answer questions about spending time in a Louisville holding cell, Woods was starting his round and would need a good one to avoid missing just his 15th cut in 93 major appearances.

Starting his second round two shots off the projected cut of 1 under par, Woods went seven over par in his first four holes to guarantee that he would miss the cut. It’s hard to imagine a worst scenario for a player already battling competitive rust and old age in a game dominated by much younger players. Here he was looking ahead to the next tournament, the next opportunity to show that he could still play at next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but stuck for five hours on a golf course where he had solidified his legend 24 years earlier in an epic duel with Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championship.

Back then when Woods was in the morning of his career, he turned the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club into a theater with a two-act play and May as his benevolent antagonist. In the final round in 2000, they matched each other shot for shot, creating a drama unprecedented in televised golf history. Then in the three-hole aggregate playoff, Woods survived to win by one stroke. That victory at Valhalla was the third leg of the Tiger Slam, which climaxed when Woods won the 2001 Masters.

But these are different times in the game of golf. In 2000, the PGA Tour was in the beginning of a period of monumental growth as an outsized talent with a mixed racial heritage was transforming what had long been identified as a country club sport played mostly by white people. To many, Woods was the game and the PGA Tour was his home. Now, no longer the masterful player capable of holding your attention for hours on Sunday with his feats of excellence, Woods has become a senior statesman in the game and a defender of what he has helped to build in the sport over the last 30 years.

As the biggest name on both the PGA Tour Policy Board and the PGA Tour Enterprises Board, Woods has become one of the most powerful figures in negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds LIV Golf. During what is turning out to be a slow and painful exit from competitive golf, Woods is helping to set the direction of the future of the game.

At Valhalla, he took on his new role.

“We’re trying to make the PGA TOUR the best it can be day-in and day-out,” he said Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons why we have arguments and we have disagreements, but we want to do what’s best for everyone in golf and the TOUR.”

About the PGA Tour’s negotiations with LIV Golf, he said, “we’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

Easily missing the cut at the PGA Championship after a six-over par 77 on Friday, Woods didn’t take any steps toward reclaiming a place at the top of the pecking order of the best players. At Valhalla, he still commanded the biggest galleries like he did when he won there 24 years ago. Back then, he was looked upon by many as the savior of the game, who gave an inspiring and life-changing sermon on Sunday afternoons with his golf clubs.

That seemingly ubiquitous presence on Sundays is waning, but his star still shines brightly over these players still playing on the weekend on a stage he set for them.


By: Farrell Evans
Title: Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 16:07:58 +0000

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Revisit Amy Winehouse’s Celebration For “Rehab” Winning Record Of The Year In 2008 | GRAMMY Rewind

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When the world first heard Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ in 2006, the album changed pop music forever with its nostalgic, trauma-stricken grief, becoming her most enduring legacy. In honor of the beloved beehive-wearing chanteuse and the release of a new Winehouse biopic, also titled Back to Black, celebrates her life and timeless music. Look back at the 50th GRAMMY Awards in 2008, when she won her first five GRAMMYs, including Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for “Rehab” as well as Best New Artist.

About the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs:
Recording Academy is the world’s leading society of musical professionals and is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and sustaining music’s past, present and future.

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By: Recording Academy / GRAMMYs
Title: Revisit Amy Winehouse’s Celebration For “Rehab” Winning Record Of The Year In 2008 | GRAMMY Rewind
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