A welcome reception that turned out to be a gigantic party with several winners performing, a first dress rehearsal with script mistakes, a fabulous Dutch party and lots of mosquito bites, that was basically my Sunday and Monday.
Sunday evening it was time for the official opening of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. What should have been a welcome reception instead turned out to be a gigantic party with performances from several winners like Lys Assia, Dana International, Carola, Marija Serifovic, Ruslana and of course the person responsible for that we are in Moscow at the moment, Dima Bilan. Quite amazing, I must add, although getting there in the first place wasn’t quite easy. We were expecting that a shuttle bus would be available, but the first one was set to leave from the hotel at 22:00 and arrive at 22:30. With the performances starting at 9 that would have meant that we would arrive once those were over and there was just a DJ left to play the rest of the evening. I didn’t quite fancy a trip with the metro and a lot of walking as I was wearing a new dress. Quite fortunate we are however staying at a hotel where 17 delegations also are and this evening we ended up getting a lift with the Icelandic’s. We were in the lobby waiting for some friends so we did feel a bit bad leaving them behind, but it later turned out that they got a ride with the Estonian delegation. Problem solved and no bad feelings 🙂
I am one of those who have never understood why the welcome reception/party, which includes an official countdown for the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest, takes place when all rehearsals and press conferences are over. It has always been like that, but I simply don’t understand why. Can you imagine the official opening of the Olympic Games to happen after all preliminary heats are over and we are waiting for semi-finals and finals? No, for me the Eurovision Song Contest opens when the rehearsals and press conferences start.
But anyway, Monday meant time for the first dress rehearsal of the first semi-final. It appeared like it was the first time the hosts ever saw their scripts as it really was quite a bad performance they pulled off. Unless the script is full of errors then they just simply made quite a lot of mistakes. They started out welcoming us to the biggest Eurovision Song Contest this year! Ehm, how many are there going to be? I was listening only with half an ear when they later presented eurovision.tv as the official site of eurovision.com! After that I wasn’t listening anymore at all, this was simply too bad.
Monday evening we went to the Dutch party called “To the top with the Toppers” and they really pulled of something quite extraordinary. First of all then they had rented a big theatre, only very few invitations were handed out and the security was quite high. It is not just here at the press centre we walk around shaking our heads and says “Russians”! Everyone knows was that means and yesterday we got to use it again when we walked inside to check out the theatre before Toppers themselves arrived. When we wanted to go outside again to take pictures we were told that we couldn’t go out! When we came and they noted down out names and medias they gave us an orange badge stating that we were at the Toppers party as press. We managed to get out after going into a discussion with the Russian security people telling them that “Press” means that we simply have to cover their arrival! Other press members knew the Russian system and had therefore stayed outside right from the beginning and didn’t risk being locked in!
Aside from this it was quite a good party with what appears to be a full concert with the Toppers plus performances from Norway’s Alexander Rybak and Ukraine’s Svetlana Loboda. Before all the Eurovision- related stuff started we had a few performances from Dutch tenor Kees Taal, who also worked as co-host this evening, and some performances from the Russian theatre edition of Mama Mia. Oh yes, and let me add that their had their own little press badges made. Quite unusual – but this wasn’t something that can be compared to the other partys various participants pull off. Toppers do things differently, but they do it well organised and professional.
My Dutch boyfriend has never really liked Toppers and he basically ran out of the house whenever I would play their music – this evening he was singing their songs when he took a shower after the party! He is here in Moscow as well working for another media and he was complaining about having to go – and afterwards he admitted having had a fantastic evening and enjoyed himself. If Toppers can change him over they might just very well win the hearts of all of Europe in the semi-final on Thursday.
The Dutch party unfortunately resulted in quite some mosquito bites. I basically have my hands and arms full of them – and some in the face as well. I got a lot of nice compliments at the opening party, but I quite sure I won’t hear any of that today no matter what I wear! But the mosquitoes definitely love me. The worst isn’t how it looks though, but the pain it leaves me in. By back and my legs already hurts from the bad sleeping conditions and the much walking so I can guarantee you that I am in quite a bad shape these days.