Harry Styles’ One Night Only Show Takes Fans to Long Island: NPR

Elmont, New York (UBS Arena) May 20, 2022: Fans from around the world gather to see pop star Harry Styles perform at UBS Arena on Friday afternoon.

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Elmont, New York (UBS Arena) May 20, 2022: Fans from around the world gather to see pop star Harry Styles perform at UBS Arena on Friday afternoon.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

Harry Styles is on top of the world right now and his biggest fans are following him along for the ride.

To celebrate the release of their latest album Harry’s houseStyles hosted an exclusive “One Night Only in New York” concert at the UBS Arena in Elmont, NY. It was the first time that Styles performed the entirety of his new album, on the same day it was released on streaming platforms.

Thousands of fans from around the world made their way to Long Island for the event, some traveling from as far away as Canada, Ecuador and Argentina, sometimes even without tickets, just for the chance to see the event. And while Styles is scheduled to tour Europe and Latin America later this summer, along with a series of residencies at major North American concert venues in the fall, many fans have chosen to make the pilgrimage to Long Island for this specific action.

Despite the rain, fans were in good spirits as they gathered from around the world to see Harry Styles.

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Despite the rain, fans were in good spirits as they gathered from around the world to see Harry Styles.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

For 16-year-old Nikki Shomali, an eight-hour drive from Toronto, even without tickets to the show, was worth the risk to see Styles, especially after the pandemic robbed Shomali and her friends of their chance to see his last tour. “We’ve been fans of Harry for a long time and have always wanted to be able to see him in a show,” says Shomali. “So this is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Fans with their parents traveled to see Harry Styles perform at the UBS Arena on Friday afternoon. In the photo: Yian Chen, Hui Chen Chou, Nikki Shomali, Diana Tabrizi, Nirvana Jafari, Gelareh Manouchehri, Kit Mintz, Ilmee Mintz.

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Fans with their parents traveled to see Harry Styles perform at the UBS Arena on Friday afternoon. In the photo: Yian Chen, Hui Chen Chou, Nikki Shomali, Diana Tabrizi, Nirvana Jafari, Gelareh Manouchehri, Kit Mintz, Ilmee Mintz.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

For 19-year-old Domenica Celleri, the opportunity to see Styles outweighed the risks of traveling from Ecuador without having a ticket to the show. “This album is another level for Harry… and being one of the first to be on ‘One Night Only’ is a priority for me,” Celleri said. “I’ve been a fan of his since he was in One Direction. And I want to keep growing with him.” Fortunately for Celleri, he got tickets the night before the show.

Maria Sherman, author of Larger Than Life: A Boy Band History From NKOTB To BTS and contributor to NPR Music, says attending live performances is an essential part of being a fan of Styles, or “Harries,” as they call themselves. “With Harry’s shows, people were constantly making the trip, most of the time flying to see him at The Forum in Los Angeles or Madison Square Garden in New York because they wanted to feel like they were taking part in a historic performance.” Sherman says.

Fans are hoping to see Harry Styles perform at the UBS Arena on Friday afternoon.

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Fans are hoping to see Harry Styles perform at the UBS Arena on Friday afternoon.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

While the resplendent outfits and glittery pop looks that Styles plays with may seem superficial, many of his fans are drawn to his political messages. “He’s gone out of his way to gesture toward socially and politically progressive ideologies that, you know, are historically banned from the boy band space, usually for fear of isolating the audience,” says Sherman. “In a way it allows fans to use their hobby to assert or at least relate to the things that matter most to them, in terms of identity and their community.”

Left: Matthew Slowey and Garett Reed waiting outside UBS Arena. Right: Abbi Dicenso wearing a custom outfit with the letters “H” and “S” on the back of his pants to celebrate his love for Styles.

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Left: Matthew Slowey and Garett Reed waiting outside UBS Arena. Right: Abbi Dicenso wearing a custom outfit with the letters “H” and “S” on the back of his pants to celebrate his love for Styles.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

Fans showing their love for Harry Styles with pants and tops personalized with the pop star’s name.

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Fans showing their love for Harry Styles with pants and tops personalized with the pop star’s name.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

At the concert, Styles kicked off the show with a short speech, encouraging fans to “be who you always wanted to be.” During his rousing rendition of “Sign of the Times,” he grabbed a Ukrainian flag and a Pride flag from fans, and wore them throughout the song. For fans, it’s little gestures like these that make them feel seen for who they are and what they believe in.

For Giselle Roca, 25, a Harrie from Miami, these kinds of gestures have helped her become more confident. “I accept myself and I’m not afraid to be me because he himself doesn’t apologize and he taught me to do the same and not be afraid,” says Roca. “I feel like, honestly, I would love to meet him one day and thank him for everything he did for me over the last 11 years of my life as a child, as a teenager, and now as an adult.”

Fans Abigail La Rosa, Stephanie Vega and Giselle Roca wait in line to see Harry Styles perform. The three friends traveled from Florida to see the concert.

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Fans Abigail La Rosa, Stephanie Vega and Giselle Roca wait in line to see Harry Styles perform. The three friends traveled from Florida to see the concert.

Lanna Apisukh for NPR

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