Ten-year-old me wouldn’t believe it. Meeting Eurovision contestants was a childhood dream. And yet there I was, on a train from Liverpool travelling down south to do just that.
For those of you who don’t know, London plays host to a Eurovision concert every year. 2023 is no different. Everyone from Finland to Serbia, Portugal to Sweden, and of course our very Mae Muller made an appearance at this year’s show. The event was sold out.
Via my nail lady, I’d met a fellow Eurovision who jets around Europe following the contest. Him and I became fast friends, and this was how I learned of the opportunity to attend the party on a press pass. Once accreditation came through, I rang my mum to scream in excitement, booked my train ticket, took a day off work, and began to prepare myself mentally for what promised to be an unforgettable night.
Before I knew it, it was 8am and I was headed for London. With an essential Starbucks and croissant in hand, I have never been happier to take a three-hour train journey on a Sunday morning.
On arrival, I joined fellow Eurovision Correspondents from ITV, BBC, the Liverpool Echo and more. Everywhere I looked, cameras were being being set up and microphones were being pulled out of bags. Journalists huddled over their notes and memorised their questions.
Before I knew it, acts were filing into the room. Käärijä, Finland’s eccentric contestant, was there as was Voyager, the glam-rock band representing Australia. Whispers of an appearance by the legend that is Loreen were circulating.
Anyone who watches the contest knows that Loreen is Eurovision royalty. She scooped the trophy for Sweden in 2012 with the classic Euphoria, and is hoping to win the crown again this year with her song Tattoo. Needless to say, I’m a massive fan.
Whispers soon became reality and I found myself face to face with Loreen. As a 23-year-old journalist who is less than a year into her career, this was a hold-your-breath moment.
As she walked up to the backdrop for photos, she stopped, saying “Hey, let me get into the groove first, where’s the music?”. Before I knew what was happening, I was singing Euphoria. So much for being professional. It all turned out fine though, she found it hilarious, and that’s all that matters.
Before she left for the soundcheck, I got the chance to speak to her. She took my hands, and I told her how inspiring I find her music, her message, and I wished her luck for this year (not that she needs it).
I will never forget this experience. Despite embarrassing myself in front of well-established journalists by bursting into song, I can’t emphasise how encouraging and special that moment was for me.
Main image by Beth Smith