Report by Marleen, a new Dutch Facebookie girl.
Before the performance
I woke up at 7am after not so much hours of sleep. This was the day. The day that I was going to meet Alexander Rybak for the first time, see him perform and hopefully make new Facebookie friends. The day that I had been waiting for so long. I was nervous, but much more excited!
But I wasn’t going alone. Through Facebook, I had asked if I could drive along to Antwerpen with someone else, because I didn’t want to be all by myself. Particularly, I wanted to meet fellow facebookies right away! My wish had been heard: the lovely Ellen had agreed that I could drive with her to Antwerpen, along with Marijke and Danka! I was so happy!
After taking a shower, bringing along my ukulele (you never know if it could come in handy) and preparing more for the day, my mother drove me to Ellen’s place. She wanted to meet Ellen, Marijke and Danka as well, to see what kind of people she would give her daughter to. I was already convinced that they were going to be trustworthy, because I had seen so many photo’s and stories on Facebook! I rang the doorbell, and Ellen, Marijke and Danka welcomed me so warmly. And Ellen has a very nice living room. Of course, my mother gave them her approval. 🙂
We then stepped into the car and drove effortlessly to Antwerpen. Well, effortlessly, when we arrived in Antwerpen, Marijke and Danka had to check in at their hotel, but as it turned out, we couldn’t get there by car. After a long time of searching, Marijke and Danka walked to their hotel and Ellen went to get some postcards (meant for other facebookies), so I was left alone in the car. I decided to grab my ukulele and play and sing “Funny Little World” in the car. When Ellen came back, she heard me and said that I played beautifully. I then sang for Marijke and Danka, who came back, too. I felt appreciated! 🙂
Picture by Olli Se
The First Sight of the Fiddler
The car was parked, the bags were packed, we were ready to go! We had a few hours before the closing festival was going to start, and we decided it would be best if we were going to take our places in front of the stage already. As we came closer to the stage, I noticed something… something that kinda looked like a violin, with a person attached to it… I hadn’t put my glasses on, so it took some time for my brain to realize: WAIT. HOLD ON. THAT’S SMURF!! I don’t remember what I did and said between this realization and being in front of the stage. I probably made squeaky sounds and jumped. Luckily, there weren’t many people yet, so we had a nice spot. AND THERE HE… HE JUST STOOD THERE. Just being hím, giving instructions to the band, being busy with the sound check.. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him! This was real! He was real! He hadn’t made much contact with the audience, but this was only the sound check.
As Alexander and Paula went off stage, I was already so happy. But it was very hot, and since there was no fiddler to observe anymore, I decided to sit down. More and more facebookies showed up, and Ellen was so kind to introduce me to many friendly people. There were also two girls sitting next to me, who were clearly here because of Alexander, judging by their Norway t-shirts and Eurovision scarf, but I was too shy to speak to them. Some DJ was playing music, and I just relaxed and sang along on the ground. I needed to save some energy for later.
The Closing Festival of the Gay Pride
Then… around 4pm… the show started! I’m going to try to save you all from too much details here. I personally thought the hosts of the show did a good job, but I really had to laugh at the Belgian use of words sometimes. It can be very funny for a Dutchie when they call Alexander “een schoon manneke” (sorry if you don’t understand this, but I just had to put it in here for my fellow Dutchies :P). Then, there were two guys who sang a couple of songs, a beatboxer, a Russian guy who also sang songs with two dancers and there was a transvestite show, which was totally cool. There was a Madonna transvestite with the most stunning legs I had ever seen (I really wanted to swap legs with him/her!), one with a nice rainbow/feather costume (I’m sure you have seen him/her on Alexander’s facebook page), a granny transvestite who mimed a disgusting but kinda funny song about “the menopause” in Dutch, and many more.
After all this it was finally Paula Seling’s turn! And after her performance I could conclude that she is an amazing singer. She sang Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and a song of her own, “Perfect Time”, and wow. Every note, every vibration.. the beauty of her voice hit me deeply. Goose bumps were all over my arms. I wished that I had such control over my voice. I think everybody loved her.
Paula, then, invited a certain someone to the stage… Paula: “Ladies and gentlemen… may I have your applause and your attention for Alexander Rybak!”Audience + me: “Wooohhhooooo!! YEAAAHH!!”And then he came on stage! He started by saying nice stuff, trying to pronounce “Antwerpen” and saying that he wanted one of the green hats the audience was wearing, because he felt so “naked”, only in black clothes. He later got the green hat from Marijke . They sang “I’ll Show You” first, which is a song that, I admit, I didn’t fall in love with when I first heard it. But after hearing it live, I loved it! After the song, Paula left the stage and Alexander played two of his songs: “Fairytale” (of course) and “Roll With The Wind”. While he was performing, I realized something. All the other artists who performed before him, were singing happily and playing very joyfully and all, but something was missing. When Alexander performed, I realized what the other artists lacked. It was contact with the audience. While the other performers were being happy with each other or themselves, Alexander was making the audience happy. I looked around me and I saw happy people who were dancing and smiling, even if they didn’t come mainly for Alexander. That was a beautiful thing to witness. Alexander truly has a gift.
After the performance
When Alexander’s performance was over, we (meaning Ellen, Marijke, Danka, me and more) decided that we had seen enough of the Closing Festival, and my ears were burning from the loud sound. So we went next to the stage, where Alex was surrounded by cameramen, fangirls and interviewers. Though I knew there would be a Meet&Greet in the evening, I decided that I would try to push myself through the crowd and let him sign a white t-shirt I brought along. I succeeded. I tried to offer him my special t-shirt-marker to sign it, but for some reason he only wanted to use his own pen (why..?)? He gave me back my t-shirt, looked at me and then he said: “You are very beautiful.”I think I mumbled a little “thankyou” before I got lost in the crowd again.
The Meet & Greet
After we had drunk and eaten something (no alcohol for me :P), it was 7pm, time for the Meet&Greet! It was a small café called Brasserie Bonaparte. Quite a lot of people showed up and after a little while, Alexander and Paula showed up as well. Since there were so many people, me and the group decided to wait a minute or two. I watched everyone taking pictures and getting autographs. I felt a little bit bad for Paula though, because most people came and started to make a queue for Alexander, while Paula was sitting on a bench, sometimes waiting for more people to come to her. That situation was put to an end when Ellen decided to go talk to Paula. I wanted to come, too, but I was too shy at first. Luckily, Ellen invited me to come sit next to Paula as well. We chatted a little, and I was so charmed by Paula. She is such a sweet person. She made me feel more comfortable. And she looks so great.
While I was going to compliment Paula on her necklace, Ellen said to her that I could play ukulele and sing for her.Now, before I continue this story, I have to say: Thankyouthankyouthankyou Ellen! Without you, the event that I’m going to describe now may not have happened as it did. Okay, let’s continue. I grabbed my ukulele and sat next to Paula again. I told Paula I was going to sing a song from Alexander for her. My fingers were shaking, but I began to play and sing “Funny Little World” again. Suddenly, Paula raised her voice and called: “Alexander! Alexander! Come here!” (thank you Paula 🙂 ). Alexander looked up, left his fangirls, sat next to me, and began to sing second! Unbelievable! And my heart… bonk bonk bonk bonk bonk! When we finished, Alexander gave me a high-five and then touched my cheek and shoulder. 🙂 We had a nice chat in which I was hardly able to say more than “Yes,” “No” and “Thank you” before he went back to continue signing autographs and making pictures.
Video by GermanRybakFans
Alexander and Paula went upstairs to eat their meals and most people began to leave the bar. Eventually, it was only me with about ten other people who were still there when Alexander and Paula came downstairs again. He chatted with everyone and received more and more presents. I almost forgot that I still hadn’t made a picture with him! When I remembered, I asked him if I could hug him for the picture. He said yes, and I remembered hugging him, but as I saw the picture later, it looked more like a hold from a self-defense sport 😛 I think he didn’t mind. We also made a group picture and chatted more with him. I decided that I admire him so much, not only as an artist, but also as a person. He had so much patience, he just took his time for everyone and had no star attitude at all. After I had received Paula’s and Alex’ autograph + a nice message about my playing that day, they had to leave.
After the Meet & greet
I was so glad with everything that had happened, and also tired from my excitement. The group and I went to sit and talk by the water, to calm down. Well, I don’t know if they calmed down, but I didn’t really . After having said goodbye to everyone, Ellen and I drove back home (with some difficulty :P). She told me all kinds of stories about Alexander, the facebookies and their events, and I listened carefully to the beautiful stories. Around 1am we arrived at my house and I said goodbye to Ellen, thanked her for everything and at home I started jumping and giggling before I went off to bed.
Though I may not have mentioned everything that had happened to me, I would like to close this report now. I want to finish this with a certain moment: At the Meet&Greet, Alex asked first if Ellen and I were sisters. When we answered “no” he asked how Ellen and I met each other then. We answered “via Facebook”. Alex then said: “It unites”.And that is true. I have met lovely people who I didn’t know before, or who have been profile pictures and names only. Now I have shared great parts of my life with them, laughed with them… I had never done anything like this before, but now I just want many more moments like this. In all these years, Alexander and all of you have created this… this thing. This world. And I think I’m not the only one who thinks that. I hope that you all realize how special this is.
This post is also available in Русский.