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Is ‘The Black Dog’ From Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ a Real Bar in London?

Is The Black Dog From Taylor Swift The Tortured Poets Department a Real Place
Taylor Swift James Devaney/GC Images

There are several theories about whether Taylor Swift‘s track “The Black Dog” is about ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn — but is it also a reference to a real place?

Swift’s newest album, The Tortured Poets Department, was released on Friday, April 19, and within two hours, she surprised fans with The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, which featured 15 more songs. “The Black Dog” was one of the new additions after previously being teased as a bonus track.

“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,” Swift, 34, sings, seemingly referencing her split from Joe Alwyn after six years of dating.

She continued: “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.”

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When Swift originally announced The Black Dog variant in March, fans assumed the title was a reference to her weathering the aftermath of a breakup. The Black Dog variant even included a lyric on the back, which read, “Old habits die screaming,” which connected back to Swift’s depression playlist that she created ahead of TTPD’s release.

Joe Alwyn 2 Is The Black Dog From Taylor Swift The Tortured Poets Department a Real Place
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn GOR/GC Images

However, there is a bar called The Black Dog Freehouse in Vauxhall, which is located in Alwyn’s native England. Fans have already started leaving comments on the pub’s Instagram posts and The Black Dog Freehouse social media has also been having fun by promoting Swift’s music on their official account. Their Instagram bio now reads, “Pub, restaurant & beer garden 🎶Home to tortured poets @taylorswift.”

“The Black Dog” is not the only track that made references to life in England. Swift also released a track titled “So Long, London,” which offered a glimpse into her breakup from Alwyn, 33. The former couple started dating in 2017 and occasionally collaborated on her music before calling it quits.

Joe Alwyn and Taylor Swift

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Us Weekly confirmed in April 2023 that Swift and Alwyn parted ways due to their romance being too high-profile.

Joe Alwyn 3 Is The Black Dog From Taylor Swift The Tortured Poets Department a Real Place
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn Jackson Lee/GC Images

“Joe is very shy and never liked all of the attention that came with dating one of the most popular singers in the world,” a source told Us before noting that Swift wasn’t at “fault” for the breakup. “[Joe] just didn’t like having to be on all of the time.”

Swift moved on with ex Matt Healy — who appeared to be the main inspiration for TTPD — but their connection quickly fizzled out. She has since been dating boyfriend Travis Kelce, who she went public with late last year.

In February, Swift announced the release of her 11th album at the 2024 Grammy Awards, saying, “[The way I can celebrate my Grammys win] is by telling you a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for the past two years, which is that my brand new album comes out April 19th. It’s called The Tortured Poets Department and I’m going to go post the cover right now backstage.”

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Devoted Swifties subsequently pointed out that Alwyn previously talked about having a group chat with a similar name, which featured Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott.

“It’s the Tortured Man Club, I think. It’s me, you — and Andrew Scott started the group,” Alwyn said during Variety’s Actors on Actors interview special in December 2022. “[Andrew is] just messaging himself good mornings. We were both in the Sally Rooney universe and crossed over with Lenny Abrahamson. We were so lucky to have that experience.”

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