I started my Sunday going out to the venue with our backstage crew to film some interviews with “The Big Five” + Sweden who were in the arena for their 2nd rehearsal today. In Australia the shows are broadcasted live of course, for the viewers to be able to vote like everyone else, but this live show is aired at 5am in the morning so they usually do an evening broadcast as well. And that gives them a full working day to edit the show and put in a lot of extra material to treat the viewers to watch it even though they can’t take part in the voting process. And a part of this extra material is backstage interviews with all the artists which our backstage crew will be filming during the rehearsals starting today.
With us is the brilliant actor, talkshow host and comedian Toby Truslove who did today’s interviews with the artists from Germany, Italy, UK, Sweden and Spain. He’s so funny, and since he’s used to improvisational theater he’s quick with his ideas and has excellent timing. I’ll remember his interview with the British boys Joe and Jake especially – it turned out positively hilarious!
After this adventure we had some spare time before meeting up again in the hotel lobby for the ride to the Red Carpet Ceremony. This is a thing where all participants walk the red carpet in front of the press and fans, getting interviewed, writing autographs and posing for pictures and selfies with the crowd. Only a small amount of the delegation are allowed on the red carpet and while they were doing their thing, the rest of the groups gathered in the Blue Hall in Stockholm City Hall for the Welcome Reception. As for us, the delegation hosts, one of us went with the smaller group to the Red Carpet Ceremony and the other with the rest to City Hall. In my case, that meant going with our beautiful star Dami, her stylist, our Head of Delegation, our Head of Press and our Communications Manager to the red carpet whilst Mia took some of the rest to City Hall. We also had a third independent group of our delegation driving to the red carpet to cover it for their broadcasts later this week.
The Welcome Reception in City Hall was really nice with everyone happy, mingling and dancing together. This is basically the only time all the delegations meet at the same time and everyone is still a potential winner, so the atmosphere was cheerful and filled with anticipation for this oncoming week.
The main event of this Welcome Reception is the Opening Ceremony, and it was certainly an opening to be proud of. First the Mayor of Stockholm held a speech about Stockholm and what it has to offer in terms of inventions, startups, social standards and equality. This was then followed by a lineup of artists you wouldn’t believe possible if you weren’t there to witness it – Måns Zelmerlöw singing Heroes, Loreen singing Euphoria, Carola Häggqvist singing Fångad av en Stormvind (Captured by a Love Storm), Richard Herrey of the Herrey’s singing Diggi-loo, Diggi-ley, Charlotte (Nilsson) Perelli singing Tusen och en Natt (Take Me to Your Heaven) and finally Carola back on stage singing ABBA’s The Winner Takes it All introducing Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA who then gave the most amazing speech that moved everyone in the audience.
After an introduction covering his experiences from being a winner of Eurovision and a world-renowned popstar he went over talking about how important this competition is (even though some people usually question this) for being a positive energy among all horrible stuff going on in the world today, working against hate, homophobia and antisemitism. I unfortunately don’t remember his exact words to relay to you but he ended up saying that everyone entering the stage next week should feel like they’re standing on the barricade fighting for freedom of expression, and the right to be whoever you want to be. The audience’s reactions to his speech was something that really moved me and I will carry it with me for a long time.
After the Opening Ceremony everyone was invited upstairs to the Golden Hall and the Gallery of the Prince for coffee, pralines and a lot of happy dancing. It was so great experiencing this crazy mix of people from all over, having this genuinely fun time together, dancing with each other and enjoying each other’s company – even though they’re all really contestants competing against one another in this race for the crystal microphone and eternal fame. The evening ended up at the after party in EuroClub where, among others, our stunning artist Dami performed in front of a supporting crowd cheering her on and singing along. All in all, a very busy but successful day!
Tomorrow’s when it’s getting serious for real, when the arena hosts the first two dress rehearsals of the first semifinal. The first one will be the first time everything’s done like it’s supposed to be with the hosts the interval acts and everything. For the second one they’ll bring in our first audience, and this is also the show which all the jury groups base their votes on so it’s hugely important even though it’s not the live broadcast, which is Tuesday evening. I’ll be with the backstage team during the first dress rehearsal and during the second one I’ll actually be in the audience since I have been given a ticket. (Yay!) Mia, my delegation host colleague will be with Dami and her crew at an Embassy Function the Australian Embassy is throwing at the EuroClub and will then take over for me at the venue taking care of our commentators Julia and Sam. Lot’s to do, and so little time to do it in – but so wonderfully amazing to be a part of!