British fans of the Eurovision Song Contest took advantage of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions to gather in a London pub on Saturday and watch the competition in a party atmosphere.
Dressed in the colors of their favorite adopted countries, dozens of fans who had pre-booked tables descended on the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to celebrate the music and finally meet in person.
“We’ve waited so long. You know, a two-year gap. And I think everyone feels like that’s exactly what we need right now,” enthusiast Monty Moncrieff told Reuters. from Eurovision.
Ninety guests were invited to attend the event at the pub, which since 2015 has been listed as a historic building due to its importance to the LGBTQ + community. Eurofest organizers said tickets sold out within four minutes.
The tavern’s managing director, James Lindsay, said the reopening of pubs in England for indoor food and drink on May 17 could not have come too soon.
“This has been a brutal pandemic in terms of the hospitality industry,” Lindsay said before the party. “We’re back to half our capacity here and it’s the first step, I think, in a number of small steps to get us back on an even keel.”
Fans enjoyed reuniting with old friends and old music favorites before the contest began.
“We’re back home, actually, to our spiritual home. So we love it here,” Eurovision enthusiast Jo Powell said.
“And it’s also the first time we’ve seen each other in 16 months, so it’s amazing!” said a friend, Stewart Wilders.
Due to travel restrictions, most Eurovision fans outside the Netherlands had to watch from home. Many reached out to friends and online communities to celebrate the event, known for its flamboyant costumes and theatrical performances.
The Netherlands hosts the 65th edition of the event, which attracts a TV audience of around 200 million, after Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 competition in Tel Aviv with the song “Arcade” .
Laurence’s performance this year was canceled after testing positive for the coronavirus.
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