With the North American leg of Louis’s Faith in the Future World Tour concluded, No Stunts wants to look back at our favorite memories and how fans made this tour incredibly special for each other. This fandom has built an amazing community around each other and there is no better display of that community in action than this tour! While many shows have fan projects designed to show Louis our love, this tour introduced a project aimed at helping fans connect with one another: the Faith in the Future bracelet trade! In the words of the project’s organizer, MK, this project is “by fans for fans.” While the bracelets are relatively simple and inexpensive, they show off the care and creativity of the fandom. It’s a way to help foster relationships with other fans, spread excitement with handmade gifts, and come home from shows with tangible, unique memories.
You can read more about the project in this article by MK themselves, from No Stunt’s May 1 issue before the start of the FITF World Tour. You can also follow the project accounts, @FITF_BeadTrade on Twitter and Instagram to stay updated and connect with others trading at your shows.
My name is Ella, or @freedomrry online. I got to see this project, and the way it brought fans together, firsthand at Louis’s shows in Berkeley and Los Angeles, California (and if you count the early hours of Red Rocks). I spent the few days before I left on tour making bracelets for (what became) hours on end! Whenever I wasn’t packing or outfit planning, I was sitting with my beads and a show on my phone watching my pile of bracelets steadily grow. I went into the project wanting to make as many as I could, but knowing I only had a handful of days and, admittedly, not the greatest attention span. I had no idea how fun making them would end up being and before I knew it, I’d made somewhere around a hundred bracelets. Coming up with patterns, and picking the color schemes to go with my favorite songs was a great way to spend a little portion of my summer. The bracelets got increasingly creative, too, as I quickly started running out of letters! (Shoutout to the person on Twitter that I saw explain how they turned one letter into another with Sharpie.)
Something I quickly came to love as I started trading my bracelets at shows is the way that everyone had their own style. Each person used different shaped and sized beads, making each bracelet unique. Even the words on the bracelets were different depending on the person! While the bracelets I made mainly were song titles or lyrics, my friends V (@angelbbylouis) and Hannah (@boyfriendspark) made lots of bracelets with quotes and fandom jokes. The pictures they sent inspired me to make some like that too, and two of my favorite bracelets that I made were my matching “rose” and “dagger” set. The bracelets also became an easy way to find other people on our side of the fandom. I just looked for anyone who laughed at my yellow-beaded “Ch 6” bracelets!
And bracelets were not the only items traded at shows. The excitement the bracelet project created inspired some people to flex their creative muscles. One fan, in particular, created quite the buzz both online and at her two shows by making buttons with pictures related to Louis and One Direction. It was through a tweet about this idea that I first met Kimmy (@always_louwt), stan Twitter’s resident button maker who quickly became one of my good friends! She and her sister, Christina (@justlikelou_28), started making bracelets to trade at the Los Angeles show. At first, since the project was still new and not many had latched onto it yet, and because at the time they were only attending one show, they planned to make about 30-50. As the tour started and excitement around the project built, they “quickly picked up production,” as Kimmy put it when I spoke to her, and ended up making around 150 bracelets. Each one was packaged with its own custom printout containing words (lyrics or quotes) and art or symbols to go with its design. It was then that Kimmy had the idea to make something new.
Kimmy (@always_louwt): “I wanted to do something extra since I was so excited about trading and being able to meet all of my online friends and other fans who I didn’t know. I started with only about 30 buttons as I didn’t think people would really want them. Let me tell you, the shock was REAL when I tweeted them and got thousands of responses. Instantly, I knew I had to make way more buttons. My sister and I ended up making about 600 buttons over the next 2 weeks and we gave them all away at both the LA and LV shows. It was amazing being able to trade and meet everyone. However, it was even more special to be able to give them to people who didn’t have anything to trade as they shyly came up and asked if they could have one even though they didn’t have any bracelets. At the Las Vegas show, I realized that I had enough buttons to start throwing them out to the crowd in the line! This was super fun as I would hold up a button and say “Who wants this ‘happy days’ one!?” and people would raise their hand and I would toss it over to them or have people pass them down! The smile on everyone’s face when they saw my buttons, bracelets, and printouts made all the hours and money we spent worth it. I would 100% do this again (and I will be for the Niall show) as it made me so happy to make others happy and I made SO many good friends from this experience!”
(Photos: @freedomrry (bottom left) and @always_louwt)
Meeting other fans is one of my favorite parts of going to shows, but it can also be daunting, especially for people attending alone. Striking up conversations with strangers feels a lot easier when you’re on the timeline. Luckily, the bracelet trade turned out to be that perfect icebreaker. Asking someone to trade gives an excuse to strike up a conversation with other fans and has a magnet effect, drawing the attention of others. I experienced this at all of my shows, but never as large-scale as Los Angeles. What started as a simple meetup between Kimmy and me, to trade and talk to each other, quickly turned into a group of 20-30 people gathered in front of a concession stand, passing bracelets back and forth, and all chatting like we’d known each other forever.
I spoke to some other fans about how the bracelet trade changed the way they connected with people at shows and here is what they said:
Hannah (@boyfriendspark): “I got to meet so many fans at each show I went to because we had bracelets ready to trade. I love that I’m able to give away something I’ve made to someone else and get a new bracelet in return. It feels like you get to almost completely remake your bracelet collection; leave with a bunch of bracelets you’ve made and return with ones other fans traded to you. I thoroughly enjoy it! Not only do you get to find fun and cool bracelets you’d want anyways, but you also get to create a really nice memory along with the bracelet by connecting with a fan and maybe getting to know a little bit about them. It makes the entire atmosphere feel much more like a real community rather than just a bunch of fans attending a show.”
Beck (@alreadyhomexx): “I wore a few of my own and kept the rest on the strap of my bag where people could see in hopes of them approaching ME about it (Yeah no, be brave and offer them to people. Everyone is so lovely. Don’t be scared). When we got to our seats I was still hesitant to offer them out to people but once I built up the courage to just tap on someone’s shoulder in the group in front of us, it turned into a whole trade with the people around us noticing and offering their own. Every time someone new came to find their seats near us I just jumped to offer one, whether they had something to trade or not. It made everyone in our section super approachable. You didn’t feel as bad about stepping over strangers to get back to your seat since you’d already connected over the bracelets. It’s hard to put into words how the atmosphere in our section changed. We were still strangers but it was like we’d broken some barrier.”
There’s no denying that this project made it so much easier for fans to connect with each other. Whenever I stopped to trade with people at shows I would try and strike up a conversation. Inevitably, the next step would be “Do you have Twitter?” so that I could stay in contact with everyone. (This also led to a few instances of discovering moots in the wild without realizing it!) Louis’ fan community is some of the easiest people to talk to for me. Besides just our shared love of Louis, I have found so many commonalities with people here. It truly feels like one big family. Seeing the full scope of that connectedness with my own eyes made this tour special beyond words.
(Pictures by @itjustrosie (top left) and @freedomrry)
But the bracelet trade didn’t stop at helping fans meet new people. For me, at least, it also helped form some great memories with friends I already had. Over a year ago, I joined a Twitter group chat and met some of the most amazing people I know. This year, a handful of us met in person for the first time in Denver, Colorado. On one of our first days together, we went to a park and sat in the grass making bracelets. It felt so peaceful to have this shared activity and shared moment. The beads made regular appearances in our hotel room too, since Hannah could not be stopped! But that created the perfect opportunity for custom bracelets. I now have so many bracelets with inside jokes that were made at the moment we said them. Each time I wear them I get to revisit that memory and how we made each other laugh, knowing that identical bracelets are in my friends’ rooms all across the world. At the Los Angeles show, I was given another one with special meaning. During “We Made It” my friend Harper (@pinkandblue2818) pressed something into my hand. After the song, I saw it was a bracelet with the song’s title. Harper and I met at Red Rocks, where we clicked immediately before being separated during the storm. A week later, reunited in LA, we finally got to experience a show together. We truly had made it, overcoming what we’d been through and having the time of our lives.
Hannah: “One specific experience that I had related to these bracelets occurred at the Red Rocks show. After the storm, I ended up separated from my group and on the completely wrong side of the venue. I walked around for a little while, kind of in shock. I ended up walking up a flight of stairs looking for a path to get back to my friends and as I was walking up, a father and his daughter who was around 12-14 years old, were walking down. The father was hugging his daughter to his side and the daughter was just bawling. My heart instantly broke completely for her and I wanted to do something to try to make anything just slightly better for her. I stopped them on the stairs and held out my long string of bracelets that survived the storm. I asked them both if they wanted to pick out some bracelets to keep and something about the way the daughter’s cries died down and turned into sniffles as she looked through my bracelets, healed a big part of me that night. I just wanted to make something better for someone and this was the only way I could think of to help. She picked out a bracelet or two and when they turned to leave, her father squeezed my shoulder a little and mouthed ‘thank you so much’ to me, and in that moment, it didn’t matter how cold, in pain, alone, sad, and confused I was, all that mattered was that this young girl and her father were able to have at least one nice memory from that night. Having my bracelets with me at that moment gave me a tool to step in when I saw them on the stairs and without the bracelets, I’m not sure there would’ve been anything I could’ve done. Because of this experience, I will always have bracelets to trade at every show I ever go to in the future. Because, there is an off chance that not only would someone want one, but there could be a moment or reason that at the show, someone might need one.”
(Photos: @itjustrosie, @angelbbylouis, @freedomrry)
Friendship bracelet trading at concerts has spread like wildfire. Fandoms across music genres are diving into the excitement and camaraderie the project offers. For Louis fans, it isn’t stopping with North America. Inspired by the memories made along this leg of the tour, fans are already gearing up to take the project across Europe. Some are even planning for Niall’s The Show: Live on Tour next year as well! I know I, for one, can’t wait to make new designs and new memories.
Do you have pictures and stories from the FITF Bracelet Trade? We’d love to see them! Tag @nostuntsmag on Twitter and Instagram.