Calvin Denker, 25, of Minnesota went viral for singing and dancing at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert. He had been working as a security guard at the time and was positioned on the floor, near the stage. As a Swift fan himself, he asked concertgoers in the front row to take photos of him whenever Swift was standing behind him on stage.
After going viral, he shared his own experience about working the Swift concert in a TikTok. But a few months later, he was fired by his security company after admitting in the video that he asked fans to take photos while he was working.
Despite being let go by his job, fellow Swifties still believe that Denker didn’t do anything wrong. Now, Denker has opened up about the experience to The Independent - in his own words.
I worked the Taylor Swift concert on 23 June and 24 June in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before I was fired from my security position at Best Crowd Management, I had worked there for just under two years.
I first became familiar with the position in 2018, when I spoke to a security guard at Swift’s “Reputation Tour” in Minneapolis. At the time, I was working a job where I felt like I had more free time, and I wanted to add a little more to my day. I took the position in hopes that Swift would announce upcoming concert dates that I could attend. Of course, I made sure that I was working other events too, such as Minnesota Vikings football games because I am a Vikings fan. But even then, I recognised that if Taylor Swift was to announce a tour, it would be the pinnacle of what I was hoping for.
It was really the luck of the draw that I was able to work the floor at her “Eras Tour” in Minneapolis last June. As the security guard, my role for the concert was to make sure that fans were having a good time. Obviously, Swift has her own personal guards, and they were also doing the rounds on the barricade to make sure that the night went off without a hitch.
The morning of 25 June was when I saw the viral TikTok video, which showed me singing while working the concert. I wanted to make my own video to explain to everyone that I was a Swift fan. I knew that there were a couple of news articles about other security guards saying they got the job just for the “Eras Tour”, and I wanted people to know that I had the job for a little while longer. But, ultimately, I was a Swiftie and it had been the dream to see her perform.
In my video, I explained that after night one of the concert, I realised how close Swift was getting to my post on the barricade. I decided to hand out little pieces of paper that asked fans in the front row to take photos of me when Swift was right behind me. While I am a big fan, I still wanted to be good at my job.
A week after the concert, I received a call from an HR employee with my security company. She informed me that my employer took issue with me handing out the pieces of paper to fans because they had a strict “no photos with talent” policy. I was certainly aware that I couldn’t have my phone out while working and I recognised that being security, it was an absolute “no” to document anything backstage.
I offered to delete the TikToks and maintained that I would never do something like this again, because I didn’t know how unprofessional it was until they brought it to my attention. After our conversation, I never heard anything from HR again. However, I did still have access to the company web portal, where you get assigned events. They later assigned me to work the Ed Sheeran concert on 12 August. In my head, I was still hired by them and all was well.
When it came time to work the Ed Sheeran concert, a couple of managers came up to me and said: “Hey, I just want to make sure that you’re not going to be making any videos tonight.”
I had worked seven hours of my 10-hour shift when I was called over by the managers, who handed me the phone to speak to the same HR representative I had previously spoken to on the phone. Then, she fired me. I didn’t get to finish my shift, but they assured me that I would still get paid for the gig. Right after the phone call, I handed in my work polo and was escorted out of the stadium.
Soon after, I made the follow-up video about getting fired because, really, I wanted everyone to know that I certainly had no idea it was going to blow up as much as it did. A few people had messaged me asking how I got the security gig, while some said that they might try to get a job for themselves. But part of me made the video to let fans know: “Hey, I was fired. If you’re gonna copy me, don’t actually copy me that much.”
I don’t hold a grudge against my former security company because I recognise where they’re coming from. As a whole, it seems very unprofessional to be singing and dancing as a security guard. It looks like you’re obviously distracted and not doing your job.
However, I don’t believe it was fair to fire me. I gave them many alternative ways to handle the situation, from promising to never do it again to deleting my TikToks. I still think that handing out the pieces of paper was an okay thing to do.
Nevertheless, I don’t regret it. I am ecstatic that I have the photos and I have the memories from the Taylor Swift concert. From my viral TikToks, I have actually received quite a few messages from people saying that they work for other security companies in Minneapolis, and that they would like to extend the opportunity to interview for those companies.
While that is an extremely generous sentiment, I do think I will take a break from security for a while… if not indefinitely.