Attending My First ESC!
As noted in the “Road to Denmark” series, I attended the ESC for the first time in person! For those who have not yet read my story, I first discovered the ESC when I was studying abroad in Denmark in 2007. The Helsinki edition was the perfect time to be introduced to “Europe’s Favorite TV Show.” The staging was impeccable, the hosts were brilliant, the acts were superb, and the victor, Molitva from Serbia, nothing short of absolutely amazing! I loved the semi-final, but the Grand Final is what got me hooked for life.
I swore that, if Denmark were ever to win, I would make the trip back to Dk in order to see the Contest firsthand. Well, 2013 happened, Only Teardrops took the Crystal Microphone to Copenhagen, and I found myself on a plane to Copenhagen.
Actually, I found myself on a boat to Copenhagen. I spent the preceding week in Oslo visiting my brother and his wife.
Anyway, what did I find when I went to Eurovision Village? My people! For the first time in my life, I not only found myself amongst people who knew what ESC was, but among fellow fans! Furthermore, I was able to show-off my knowledge (and promote the blog!) and school some neophytes on a brief history of the Contest to help them better understand all the underlying drama and storylines of this year’s Contest.
For once, I felt understood. I shared this common-bond with hundreds, thousands of others who had descended upon this converted shipyard, on this distant island, of the city of Copenhagen, in the north of Europe — all for the same reason. I have done many things in my life, attended sporting events in stadiums holding 50, 60, 70 – even 100 thousand people. I’ve performed in stadiums of that size as a part of a marching band. I’ve attended pop concerts, rock shows, and classical performances (including the New York Philharmonic). This was the first time, in a long time, that I felt connected to so many others – particularly strangers. It was something akin to when I first performed with my college marching band all those years ago. Only, without the butterflies in my stomach.
It was also a dream come true to see the performances so close and to see ESC history made! I saw two countries qualify for the first time ever (Montengero and San Marino – who I was representing with my scarf), I saw titans fall and underdogs succeed. I got to see some of my all-time favorite ESC acts live (Sweden, Austria, Armenia, and the Netherlands from this year will be added to my top entries list). I got to join hoards of singing fans in a giant, ESC chorus – before and during the show. It was like some kind of Eurovision wonderland. Those around me on Tuesday night, my first time in the arena, probably recall this big black guy jumping up and down – shouting excitedly. I nearly fainted from how fast I was breathing.
I met some awesome folks from South Africa, Britain (England & Scotland), Germany, Denmark (obviously!), Russia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and San Marino. ESC truly unites, not just Europe, but the world! This was a sentiment that I repeatedly ran into as folks discovered that I was an American. So, as a new friend told me, attending the ESC is addictive. I have found this to be true. I am currently working on my return to the Contest in 2015. I hope to meet some of you, dear readers, and see old friends again in Vienna next May!
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