- Estelle Coombs
International Kissing Day - Eurovision's iconic kisses
Today is International Kissing Day and to celebrate we're going to take a look back over some of the most famous kisses at Eurovision in its 65 year history.
At the second Eurovision Song Contest final in 1957, Denmark's entry caused a scandal with the competition’s first ever on stage kiss. Dressed up as a sailor and his sweetheart, Birthe Wilke and Gustav Winckler sang 'Skibet Skal Sejle I Na' ('The Ship Is Leaving Tonight') before embracing before the cameras for a 13 second long kiss. The controversial moment sparked an outcry from some countries who deemed the kiss far too indecent for TV. Wilke defended the decision to kiss as a historic moment for TV, bring on the love!
First same-sex kiss
It might surprise you to know that the first on stage same sex kiss didn't take place until 2013, better late than never! Finland’s Krista made Eurovision history at the 2013 semi-final in Malmo, Sweden, when she shared a kiss with one of her backing dancers. Krista was very outspoken about the kiss before the competition; speaking to Gay Star News in Malmo she said that she intened to make a statement about marriage equality in Finland and across the world. Krista said she was “here to talk about love. Yes, love! Love is beautiful.” The kiss wasn't without controversy, with some of the more conservative European nations protesting against it. In Krista’s own words however “It's live on TV, so nobody can stop me.”
2013 was actually a trailblazing year for same sex kisses at Eurovsion; during the interval performance Petra Mede sang “You may kiss the groom”, the camera panned to the first same-sex male kiss and the audience went wild. Bravo Sweden, kisses for all!
First double same-sex kiss
2015 saw Vienna, Austria hosting Eurovision. During the second semi-final in Vienna, the performers from Lithuania made new Eurovision history with not one, but two same-sex couples enjoying a kiss on stage. Singers Vaidas and Monika performed the opening number with their backing singers and dancers. During the song the music paused and the two singers kissed, additionally the two male backing artists as well as the two female dancers embrace for a kiss. One of the male backing singers was Jurijus who would go on to perform at Eurovision in 2019 with 'Run With the Lions'.
Speaking to Gay Star News about the importance of the kiss Vaidas said, “we must find a way to live in tolerance and equality in the world, and how we can change the major opinion about gay men and women in my country. People are afraid of things they don’t understand. We have to show them that in this case the fear is inadequate. We must educate the subject.”
Most passionate kiss
Although Birthe and Gustav shared the longest kiss, we are going to award the most genuinely passionate kiss to Arciom Lukjanienka and Ksienija Žuk who performed as Naviband for Belarus in 2017. Their song 'Historyja Majho žyccia' (The Story of My Life) was the first ever performance in the Belarusian language. The song came a respectable 17th place, with the husband and wife duo passionately embracing at the end of the song, much to the delight of the audience.
Most awkward kiss
Ilinca and Alex Florea performed a spectacularly unique yodel-rap fusion for Romania in 2017. Alex, high on the buzz of their quirky performance, got totally carried away and swooped in for the most awkward kiss in Eurovision lore. Ilinca clearly was taken by surprise, as was the audience, and it resulted in a one sided kiss that was quickly shut down.
During the 2019 semi finals in Tel Aviv we were treated to a kiss cam. Audience members went wild with joy when the camera zoomed in on several same sex couples smooching during Dana International’s interval performance of Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are.” Twitter was abuzz with the inclusivity of the performance and the tender kiss cam moments proved to be the highlight of the semi final for many viewers.
No reflection on Eurovision kisses could be complete without a nod to Brotherhood of Man who won the 1976 competition for the UK at the final held in The Netherlands. Their catchy refrain of “kisses for me, save all your kisses for me” has stood the test of time and stands firm as a Eurovision classic. Brotherhood of man embraced the wide collars and wide flares of the 70s in their iconic performance of the song, which was about kissing goodbye to your young child as you head off to work, how sweet!
So kisses have long been part of Eurovision performance and lyrics and will continue to be in the coming years, particularly in a post-pandemic world! Happy International Kissing Day!