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I don’t exactly remember when I started getting into the Eurovision Song Contest, because (as I imagine was the case for most American children) it wasn’t something I ever grew up watching. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the BYGays had something to do with it via their where-to-watch round-ups of years past, and that’s how it initially got on my radar, but regardless of origin stories, I have been fully obsessed for a couple of years.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Eurovision, it’s exactly what it sounds like – an international (largely European) song contest. It’s sort of like the Olympics meets American Idol (or, you know, since America doesn’t participate, any other music-based talent show), and for one glorious day the world gets to watch the grand final, as the best of the forty participating nations go head to head to see who’s got the best original song.

And this year, the award went to Israel’s Netta Barzilai, better known simply as “Netta”, for her insane performance of “Toy”.

I remember watching in May, and thinking “Oh my god, WHO IS THIS MAGICAL HUMAN AND WHAT IN THE FUCK IS THIS WEIRDLY GREAT SONG?!” I had a few other favorite showstoppers (shout-out to Ireland’s mega-gay “Together“, and Slovenia’s “Hvala, ne“), but as soon as I’d seen “Toy”, I officially had my champion. And apparently the public agreed with me! SHE WON!

Fast-forward a few months, and homegirl was set to roll through NYC for a show at the Standard East Village on Monday night. When I received the invite to attend, I actually screamed from excitement. Her stage presence practically climbed out of my computer screen during the Eurovision, so I wondered if her IRL presence would live up to that.

Spoiler alert: IT DID, TIMES TEN!

She took the stage positively GLOWING – she was sporting an amazing sequin getup, rocking her signature double buns and some pastel braided extensions, and her nails were THE DEFINITION of fierce.

She played to a packed penthouse – the crowd was, as expected, v. full of gays ‘n Israelis, though all kinds of people turned out to turn up. It got REAL SWEATY in there, y’all. I kept to the balcony and watched through the glass as she churned out incredibly covers of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” (!!!), and, of course, the ultra-signature “Toy”. The looping, the vocals, the moves…all majorly on point, and the crowd was loving every minute.

In short, it was THE MOST FUN! She’s just a fucking FORCE, you guys. I don’t think she’s got any upcoming US shows, but keep Netta on your radar, ’cause she is UNMISSABLE.

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