By Marilena Kagkaraki,
Eurovision is the song contest that brings all European countries together, and more like Australia, for one night full of music, traditional sounds and spectacles by every country. It started as a vision in 1956, in Switzerland, and since then has shaped a lot the European culture. Songs, like “Waterloo” by Abba, “Diva” by Dana International and more recently “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira, have made a huge impact to the music industry across Europe and have become classic references between Europeans and not only, but between all Eurovision fans across the continent. Thus, Eurovision has become a show that millions of people watch every year and anticipate with eagerness.
Last year, the world changed and the COVID-19 pandemic set new rules. After 64 years it was the first time that the contest was not held and was rescheduled for “hopefully” next year. Well, next year has come, it is 2021 and Eurovision, even during these uncertain times, will be held in Rotterdam (NL), the home country of 2019’s winner.
Greece’s contestant is Stefania, a Greek singer, born and raised in Utrecht, Netherlands, who will be competing with the song “Last Dance”. The stage performance we have seen so far, through rehearsal clips, is something to be introduced for the first time in Eurovision. The director, Fokas Evangelinos, has introduced a green screen, that will create effects with the clothes of the dancers and the background. It is as if Stefania is living a dream, following the narrative of the song.
We also have seen some part of Cyprus’ contestant, Elena Tsagrinou, with the song “El diablo”, which received some criticism, because of the reference of the devil in its title. The stage performance is also a really powerful one, with Elena’s choreography being eye-grabbing and mirror effects complementing all of the act. Both songs have done extremely well so far during rehearsals and now are on the countdown to the semi-finals. Some of the favourites so far, that people have predicted will win, are “Voila”, France’s submission and “Zitti e buoni” by Måneskin, an Italian band.
However, as I mentioned before, the COVID-19 era is still here and we will witness unprecedented ways of moving everything ahead with new rules that have been set. Ahoy Arena, the stadium where the contest will be held, is not accessible to everyone. Only the country’s delegation, the journalists that cover the festival and the staff that work there can access the venue. Rules are very strict and social distancing measures are in place, while everyone entering must have self-isolated some days before and have had a negative COVID-19 PCR Test. Thus, the crew and everyone there have to follow strict guidelines in order to continue participating. The audience, the nights of the semi-finals and surely finals, will be limited with only 3,500 people and with social distancing measures in place and negative tests results.
But even this, is not for certain, if there is a lot of positive cases found. In truth, they already detected a case of the virus in the Polish team and the person is isolating. The country, if needed, will participate with live-on tapes performances, that have been introduced, in case a live one is not acceptable.
All this works also as an experiment on how to go back into live shows and gatherings of thousands of people in one place, which now seems strange and kind of a distant memory. But, as the Brit Awards 2021 and now Eurovision, they are the first shows with live audiences after a year of a pandemic and they will be conducted to see how things can work safely for live shows to return and for people to get back to entertainment and fun, lively moments. It all remains to be seen in the final night, on the 22nd of May.