Earlier this year, it was sadly confirmed that the London Eurovision Party 2021 had been cancelled, owing to financial difficulty brought on by the pandemic. Like so many others, I was saddened to hear this, but felt more than anything an immense sense of gratitude to all the organisers for giving us such an amazing party for the past 12 years, and thought I’d put my thanks into words.
I only went to LEP once, in 2019, and it was one of the best days of my life. Not only did I get to see some of the major Eurovision stars sing live (yes, they are even more amazing live), and let loose among a group of fellow ESC superfans, but it gave me a live Eurovision experience. For many fans, this only happens if their country hosts, given the expense and difficulty in securing tickets, transport, accommodation etc. Furthermore, given the UK’s less-than-impressive scores of recent years, I’m not massively optimistic we’ll be ‘Live From London’ (or Brighton, Hartlepool, Edinburgh etc) any time soon.
Nonetheless, on the 14th April, I curled my hair, put on my Eurovision t-shirt and got the train down to London, where I stumbled across a group of revellers, waving assorted flags, dancing around a van in Leicester Square. Immediately, I was welcomed, and enjoyed trying to sing La Venda despite not knowing more than ten words of Spanish, dancing to ESC classics, and making friends with fellow fans. We gushed about Ermal Meta, speculated as to who would qualify, all got excited when the legendary Darude walked past, and queued up in anticipation of an amazing night. Plus, Keiino came out to sing for us, and the memory of Fred joiking his heart out in the crowded London street to adoring fans and utterly bewildered Londoners will never leave me. This lonely little Eurovision fangirl finally found her crowd, and I’ll forever be grateful to LEP for it.
The night was simply sensational- we sang, danced and cheered all the way through, and I made so many friends who I’m still in touch with now. I even watched the 2019 final with a group of them at a house-party, and saw Mahmood live in London with others. LEP brought us all together for a fantastic night of music, but the friendships made will last far longer, and I’m so glad I took the plunge and bought that ticket.
But LEP does a little bit more than just bring strangers together- it gives British Eurofans one night where we can revel together without having to justify our love of the song contest to anyone. There’s no “we’ll never win because of Brexit” or “oh it’s all political now” or judgment of our passion. There’s just so much love and excitement, and while it’s clear we can’t all love ALL the songs, the conversations are bubbly and positive and we don’t have to explain how the bloody voting system works for once because everyone speaks Eurovision here!
Of course, this is all only possible thanks to the tireless work of the organisers, Kabir Naidoo and Russell Davies, and the longstanding success of LEP only proves how much we all appreciate it. It can never be said too much, so I’ll say it once again: THANK YOU. While I’m sad we won’t all be converging in the beautiful Cafe du Paris this year, I know LEP will bounce back, and someday, we’ll all be packed into a little London club, dancing our hearts out and sharing our love for Eurovision again.
Finally, the organisers have asked anyone who can to donate to this fundraiser to get LEP up and running for next year- please donate if you can.
Lots of love,
The Eurovision Grapevine