Belfast gets a life

2011-11-11 09:03

Fathers all across the Northern Ireland capital, Belfast, had a tough time locking up their precious daughters last weekend.

You see, a certain controversial American superstar teenager named Justin Bieber was in town and the hormones raged in the pubescent girls known as the Beliebers.

You can spot them from a mile away – dodgy orange make- up, heavy eyeliner, freshly blow-dried hair, braces and chewing bubblegum.

The wardrobe is just as eye catching – micro mini-skirts or the shortest hotpants, a “colour-blocking” jacket and an optional trucker cap.

They are determined in their pursuit and shameless as they follow rumoured Bieber sightings across the city.

“Nothing ever happens in Belfast,” Chloe McCallan tells me as I join the camping fans outside the Europa Hotel, where Bieber and Lady Gaga are rumoured to be staying.

“This is the best weekend ever. If I can only see Justin.” She asks me if I work for MTV since I carry a branded bag.

“Please tell Justin I love him. It’s important that he hears this, OK,” she says as she dashes to the next Bieber sighting elsewhere, joining the marauding crowds whose presence even called for riot police to be on standby.

The city is abuzz with real energy fuelled by Bieber, as his fans choose to ignore the internet rumours that he has fathered a child with a Las Vegas fan. Bieber has denied the talk, saying that he’d never even met the woman.

Belfast, the smallest host city of the awards ever, has been known for its troubled past and religious intolerance, which made international headlines for years.

While walking the red carpet at the awards, David Hasselhoff teased the locals, saying: “I am happy to be here. Belfast was the only place that banned Baywatch while you attacked each other over religion. I mean what danger does a show about bathing suits pose?”

The venue, Odyssey Arena, in its 11-year history, is no stranger to superstars. This time around it sparkled with a gigantic glitterball suspended from the ceiling. Two large screens flanked the space-age main stage.

A smaller stage at the back was designed for celebrities handing out the trophies. On the night, the red poppies for Remembrance Day were given a rest as the locals put on their party rags and their loudest screams for local stars such as Snow Patrol.

Lady Gaga lived up to her reputation as the eccentric dresser in a silver shuttlecock style and a metal hat that covered her face.

While the awards were executed with the sharpest precision and not a single glitch, it must be said that it was strange that not a single European won an award.

Stars like Jessie J, who had a massive hit with Price Tag; and Adele, whose album 21 has been a worldwide success; would be sacrificed for Americans Lady Gaga, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Eminem, Bruno Mars and Canadian Bieber.

Queen received the global icon award while Japanese band Big Bang won the Best Worldwide Act award. On stage, the only European presence was Coldplay, who performed Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall and French DJ David Guetta, who performed with Brit Taio Cruz.

Alex Okosi, the senior vice-president and managing director of MTV Networks Africa, who also attended the awards, said the night was an incredible celebration with amazing performances.

“Belfast was one of the smaller cities we’ve hosted the awards in and it came up tops. The people are warm, friendly and welcoming.

“It was a tremendous opportunity for the city to showcase its capability and the atmosphere can be compared to the same feeling in South Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“The EMAs are a global show and it was amazing to witness them. Music is a global phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of voters made their choice of winners.

“With the MAMAs (MTV African Music Awards), we’re also aiming to take it up another notch, that’s always the challenge. We want to create a global show with high production quality celebrating African talent,” he said.

After the grief and tragedy of “The Troubles” Belfast endured, it is already counting its gains, and is believed that it received a £10-million (R128.3-million) injection and some 20 000 extra visitors.

» Mofokeng was a guest of MTV Networks Africa

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