I can already feel the hands of Harry Styles’ rabid fandom closing around my neck as I admit that I was never really a big fan to begin with. So I realize how unfair it is that I, of all people, received a last-minute call on Sunday afternoon wondering if I’d like to go to the first of Harry’s 15 shows at Madison Square Garden. But, as I quickly learned amidst a crowd of 20,000 crying fangirls and their golf dads, it doesn’t take a decade of devotion to love Harry Styles—all it takes is a little striped jumpsuit and a close-up of the pop star’s perfect tush.
A new Rolling Stone profile labeled Harry Styles the “world’s most wanted man.” In under 90 minutes, I’d found that declaration to be unsettlingly true. I was running late, but even from outside the Garden I could hear a low rumble of muffled screams. The floor, where teenage girls had been standing for hours, was littered with stray magenta feathers, glitter, and sequins—an offering, of sorts. At one point during the evening, Harry politely let us know that he’d have his back to our side of the audience, adding that, in other words, we would be “face-to-ass.” The imagery of all of our faces sandwiched between his cheeks elicited screams so loud my ears hurt. A mother who’d left her kids at home for this one started fanning herself, and said to me, “Oh my god, he’s to die for.”
When the lights finally dimmed, Harry rose from the depths of the stage in a red and white-striped bodysuit. “A gorgeous little peppermint candy,” I whispered to my friend in awe. “No, a candy cane,” she countered. But the gender-agnostic outfit of the evening didn’t matter (though I was hoping for a few more feathers). Nor did the type of sugary treat he did, or did not, resemble. Here he was, in front of us, and suddenly he was my star-crossed lover, my Romeo. It was as if he’d been waiting for me across time and space.
Harry opened the show by telling us that he burnt his tongue that evening, smiling as if he knew we were all thinking “what that tongue do” to the tune of “Watermelon Sugar.” When the camera on the big screen showed us Harry’s backside, cutting out just above the top of his buttocks, the crowd screamed “lower!” When the camera finally shifted downwards, I nearly fainted.
Later on Twitter, I read several reports of fans peeing in the pit so they wouldn’t lose their spots at the front of the stage, and I understand. Even when I return home from this show, reborn in some unnamed way, to find that my dog has eaten expired beef out of the trash, all I can think about is boyish deity Harry. The ecstasy that is watching Harry kick up his knees in a manner that resembles a rock-ified Cossack’s dance, with his chipped blue nail polish and those intoxicating dimples, is akin to taking molly for the first time.
Following the release of Harry’s House, the former One Direction member’s third solo studio album, Styles went on an international tour fittingly titled “Love on Tour.” If there’s a single word to describe the evening—what the fans felt for Harry, what Harry felt for us —it’s without a question, “love.” I loved the way my heart swelled up against my clavicle when the pianist struck the first chord of “A Sign of the Times.” I loved the way my body physically collapsed like a toppled Jenga tower as he forgot the beginning of “Watermelon Sugar,” giggled, and said, “Whoops.” And I loved how he counted every single “golf dad” in the audience, saluting all 30 of them to ensure that each and every one of us felt seen. We all throbbed in unison for Harry.
And as we sang along to “Kiwi,” we climbed the stairway to heaven together, settling atop sunset-pierced clouds like enchanted cherubs. During “As It Was,” Harry toyed with the crowd, producing a perfectly timed eruption of joy not unlike an orgasm or a holy choir. Harry thanked us repeatedly for showing up for him, and we, in turn, exalted him with our prayers (Dear Harry, I pray you find the strength to see that I am everything Olivia is not). In Harry’s House, Jesus Christ is a former boy band member in a jumpsuit, the baptism is Harry’s sweat dripping onto the front row, and the gospel is a finessed version of “your pussy tastes like watermelon.” Hallelujah.