39º Eurovision Song Contest
Rock "n" Roll Kids (Harrington & McGettigan) - Ireland
The 39th Eurovision Song Contest 1994 was on April 30, 1994 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. The presenters were Cynthia ní Mhurchú and Gerry Ryan. The pair hosted the evening in French, English and Irish. Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan from Ireland were the winners of this Eurovision with the song, Rock 'N' Roll Kids. This was a record sixth victory for Ireland, the record number of victories at the Eurovision Song Contest. The contest opened with a brief film of stars floating in water, fireworks and caricatures dancing around, drinking coffee and biking. The cameras then went live to the venue itself, where dancers dressed in white and wearing caricatured heads of well-known Irish figures, arrived on stage carrying European countries’ flags.
This year’s video postcards had a literary theme, showing contestants reading, fishing and doing other activities around Ireland. To cope with the increasing number of countries wishing to participate in the contest, for 1994 the European Broadcasting Union ruled that the five lowest-placed countries from the preceding year's contest would not participate. This meant that Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Slovenia and Turkey did not participate this year opening spaces for the overwhelming amount of new countries. This contest also saw Luxembourg withdraw from Eurovision indefinitely. Poland took part for the first time and caused a scandal when Edyta Górniak broke the rules by singing her song in English during the dress rehearsal (which is shown to the juries). Six countries demanded that Poland should be disqualified, but the rules required 13 countries to complain before Poland could be kicked out, so Poland could participate and they went on to come 2nd in the contest.
When the voting started, Hungary took the lead from the first six juries and was well ahead of all the other countries. However, Ireland started to gather points and ended up winning with a 60 point margin over Poland. This was a surprising result since nobody expected the Irish to win this year’s contest.
But something else happened that night at Dublin's Point Theater that would totally outshine both the winner and the contestants. The interval act was the first ever performance of the Irish dancing spectacular Riverdance. To cover the intermission, during the counting of the votes, the RTE presented an Irish music and dance show by Irish musician and composer Nill Whelan, featuring the participation of American Irish dance champions Jean Butler and Michael Flatley. It was a seven-minute performance that would change the history of the country's traditional music forever, introducing elements never seen before. It was not only the steps or their intensity that had been transformed, but the style and the image itself, giving a fresh and new air to the most traditional elements of Irish folk. The success was huge and perhaps unexpected. Those present in the theater responded standing up and the more than three hundred million spectators who saw it on television that night were speechless. The press and television networks in Europe and around the world did not write the next day about the winning song of Eurovision 1994 but about the wonderful interval act presented in Dublin. Encouraged by the reception and praise received, the producers developed the work, expanding the original proposal, with the idea of taking it to the stage. On February 9, 1995, less than a year after its performance on Euovisión, the first full-time program of Riverdance took place at the same Point Theater, where it remained for five weeks. Since then and to date Riverdance has performed in more than 450 theaters around the world, has been seen by more than 25 million people and continues on stage.