I have received reports that others on this site have named their favourite Eurovision moments of all time and it is my sad duty to inform you, our loyal readers that they are in fact all wrong. Many have spoken of modern phenomena such as Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede in Stockolm 2016 or Katie Price a.k.a. Jordan in 2005 (my goodness), but there has only ever been one moment in Eurovision history which made the world sit up and pay attention, one moment which will forever be The Best moment in Eurovision history. I am, of course, talking about The Riverdance.
It was 1994 and Ireland was yet again hosting the contest which at this stage should have been called “The annual, lets show Europe how it’s done contest”. Having successfully hosted and won the year before, they really had to put on a show. Realising there was nothing they could do to stop the drab songs from other country’s ruining the show; they decided to make the interval act a spectacular. This was the first time in Eurovision history that anyone would think of making the interval act anything other than filler whilst the votes were being counted.
The scene was set when a male and female choir began to sing what sounded like a traditional Irish folk song. After a slow and sombre start, Jean Butler floated on to the stage, dancing what seemed to be a traditional Irish jig. Wearing her feminine pumps she graciously danced around the stage as though she were skimming on water. She made her exit symbolically taking with her all notions of traditional Irish dance. After a few dramatic drum beats, Michael Flatley exploded on to stage and changed history. He danced to the beat of the drum moving his feet, which, to the observer seemed to be at a superhuman speed. In this instance, we knew we were in for a spectacular show. After his solo masterpiece, he was joined by a renewed Butler, ready to join the past and the future. Flirtatiously, they danced with each other drawing the audience in to what felt like an intimate moment. Soon they would be joined by an ever increasing troop of dancers, masterfully moving in time and in sync to the beautiful music of Bill Whelan ending in a head spinning finale leading to a prolonged standing ovation from the audience in the arena and at home.
For the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, the interval act had outshone the show itself. This performance was the symbol of a new and forward thinking Ireland. It was a country full of confidence and hope for the future, a country renewed after centuries of poverty and formality. They had set the stage for the interval act to promote the values and culture of the host nation, and would lead to future winners attempting replicate its success. Riverdance would go on to become a worldwide phenomenon, something for which the Eurovision community can proudly claim as their own.